Five things we learned from Hull City's win over AFC Wimbledon
Mallik Wilks of Hull City celebrates scoring his teams third goal during the Sky Bet League One match between AFC Wimbledon and Hull City at Plough Lane on February 27, 2021 in Wimbledon, England.
 (Photo by Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images)

Hull City produced another fine away display in the capital on Saturday when they defeated AFC Wimbledon 3-0 in their first visit to the new Plough Lane. Josh Magennis, Reece Burke and Mallik Wilks all netted to give the Tigers all three points and make up ground on second placed Lincoln City, despite having played two games more than the Imps.

Peterborough United's late show against a spirited Wigan Athletic sees the Posh have a four point lead at the top, again with two games in hand over Grant McCann's side.

With that in mind, there was plenty to takeaway from a game that had it's far share of action on the pitch.

  • The Tigers' excellent away record bittersweet for fans who still can't attend

City's away form is very good, second only to Lincoln. Despite conceding 19 goals away from home, they have scored 37 on the road this season. The second highest away scorers are Sunderland with 26, showing just how prolific McCann's men have been on their travels so far. Four goals away to Portsmouth and five away to Wigan Athletic have seen the Tigers notch up some big wins, and Saturday was no different.

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They may have had a fourth if the impressive Keane Lewis-Potter's deft chip had not been ruled offside, and fans will look at this with a tinge of sadness as so many of the Tigers faithful would have made the trip down to Wimbledon for a new "ground tick" opportunity in the sunshine. Travelling to new or previously unvisited grounds is just as much of an experience as the football, and watching their team win handsomely through iFollow must have felt bittersweet with the new stadium - gleaming in the sunshine - cannot be enjoyed by those most important to the game.

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  • McCann must focus on replicating these types of performances at the KCOM

For all City have been superb away from home in many games this season, their home form has been their achilles' heel. Their 53% win record actually matches their away win percentage, but they just cannot seem to score as many at home as they can on the road. Only Northampton Town and Blackpool have scored fewer goals than the Tigers at home, and it has often been the case that sides "park the bus" and let Hull City dominate possession.

Under McCann, the Tigers are clearly better suited to a counter-attacking side - and can't cope with being pressed and countered on themselves. McCann must find a win to ensure that their home form is not the reason they miss out on the automatics come the end of the season.

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  • With Smallwood out injured, Alfie Jones is key to the midfield

Although club captain Richie Smallwood came in for some criticism for his performances since the turn of the year, it is obvious that the way he holds his position at the base of the midfield allows the Tigers to get the ball forward a lot quicker. He is definitely a miss, and although McCann has said he may be back before the end of the season it would be an asinine decision to rush him back when there is a ready made replacement in Alfie Jones.

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Versatile and confident on the ball, Jones has become a crucial player for the Tigers in recent weeks and must be played if they are to have a chance of getting maximum points in the next two home games. His positioning allows George Honeyman and Greg Docherty to affect the game higher up the pitch, and although playing twice a week is not ideal at a stage of the season where injuries can be picked up easily, the Tigers have a much better chance of going on a winning run with the ex-Southampton youngster in the midfield.

  • Crowley is better used off the bench; Honeyman the better option

Many Hull City fans were excited with Dan Crowley coming in on loan for the rest of the season from Birmingham City, but although he is clearly a very good footballer, he does not seem to fit well into the Tigers' style of play. Honeyman has been excellent throughout the season and as such is one of the first names on the team sheet; Docherty has been impressive also since the turn of the year. 

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Crowley is best suited to a number 10 position, but seems to drop much deeper than Honeyman and not get the ball forward quick enough to affect the play. McCann favours the 4-3-3 system, and it is clear (at least to my eyes) that Crowley is an excellent option to be brought off the bench. Starting him in midfield disrupts the Tigers' style of play, and at least until McCann finds a way to fit him in more effectively, he should be used as an impact player.

  • The penalty "incident" must not be repeated

The third Hull City goal on Saturday caused some controversy, with both Magennis and Wilks wanting to take the penalty that Wilks won. Lewie Coyle - captain in the absence of Smallwood - intervened, before being pushed by Wilks and then Magennis letting Wilks have the penalty. It was all a bit silly, and divided opinion between Hull City supporters on social media. 

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Wherever one stands on this, it is something that no doubt happens (particularly on the training ground) fairly often. It would have been a bigger issue if Wilks hadn't scored, but he came out after the game and apologized to his team and Captain in a Tweet on Saturday night. However, McCann won't want distractions like this that get people diverted away from talking about good results - Hull have had very few penalties this season, so getting two in one match was even more unusual.

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McCann's side now face Rochdale on Tuesday and Bristol Rovers on Saturday, looking to take maximum points from both games as well as ensuring they start scoring more goals at the KCOM to show their ambitions of automatic promotion from League One at the first time of asking.

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