Mallik Wilks was the inspiration for Hull City as they finally broke their duck at home to win 2-0 over an unconvincing Rochdale side. Wilks opened the scoring after 25 minutes with an excellent finish from outside the area. The Tigers doubled their lead with 20 minutes to go as Tom Eaves nodded the ball goalwards from Lewie Coyle's cross, only for the ball to come off defender Gabriel Osho. Rochdale's night was compounded by a red card for a studs-up challenge from Conor Shaughnessy.
Story of the match
Rochdale got the game underway, with the away side keeping the ball for the opening stages at the back and City applying the press. Good work from Gavin Whyte and Greg Docherty almost saw George Honeyman in behind, but the ball was slightly overhit. Rochdale were keen to keep the ball at the back and play it long, but had no success in the opening ten minutes.
Hull tried working Rochdale side to side, but couldn't find an opening against the rigid 4-5-1 shape from the away side. It wasn't until the 20 minute mark when Hull City looked to get forward with purpose - Keane Lewis-Potter curled an effort from the edge of the area that was saved by Gavin Bazunu in the Rochdale goal.
On 23 minutes, the stubborn Rochdale defense was breached. A superb 40 yard ball from Jacob Greaves found Mallik Wilks on the right wing, who cut inside and dummied before firing into the bottom corner. Whyte was taken out in the area soon after, but the referee remained unmoved, despite the Hull bench apoplectic with disbelief.
The home side were getting joy with the diagonal ball over to Wilks, and they almost had another opportunity. Lewie Coyle's cut back evaded all in the area and Rochdale cleared. Greaves' header was well saved from a Callum Elder free kick but the defender was adjudged to be in an offside position on the half hour mark.
Great link up from Wilks and Coyle forced a corner on 34 minutes, but Rochdale cleared yet again. The home side had started to get their rhythm going forward but were still struggling with Rochdale's deep defending. The away side's first attempt on goal came two minutes from half time from Stephen Humphreys, but was deflected wide for a corner that wasn't capitalized upon. The half time whistle went soon after.
Neither side made changes at half time, and Hull continued to try put the pressure on Rochdale - but the away defense stood firm. Try as they might, the home side could not fashion another attempt on goal. They ramped up the intensity after the hour mark, forcing Bazunu to put wide for a corner. Coyle sent an effort wide soon after, as did Wilks after good work in the centre of the midfield.
Eaves came on forWhyte on 66 minutes with McCann wanting a bigger presence up front, and it paid immediate dividends. Coyle's cross was turned goalward by the big centre forward but the ball eventually went in off defender Osho. Ex-Tiger Paul McShane went into the book after a hefty tackle on Wilks.
Lewis-Potter put a superb cross into the box on 73 minutes that just evaded Wilks as Hull looked to kill the game off, and Rochdale were soon down to ten men as Shaughnessy was shown a straight red for a studs-up tackle. Hull piled on the pressure again but the score remained 2-0 with only minutes to play.
The Tigers could have added to their 2-0 lead in the closing stages but Grant McCann's side did enough to leap up to second in the table, with Lincoln City slipping up at home to Fleetwood Town.
Takeaways from the match
Hull finally get a result at home
After numerous games this season where they have failed to score at home, the Tigers managed to get the job done at the KCOM. They leap up to second and they must show the same patience and determination they showed as they host Bristol Rovers at home on Saturday, with new manager Joey Barton wanting to make an impression with his new side. City were with Josh Magennis through injury and McCann will be hopeful that the front man will be fit for their home clash in four days time.
Rochdale in real relegation peril
Right from the first whistle, Rochdale were happy to keep the ball near their own area and timewaste to frustrate Hull City. Their physical approach will have given McCann some nervous moments, with him taking off Alfie Jones, Docherty and Lewis-Potter to prevent any injuries from over-jealous challenges. Shaughnessy's red card was deserved and it was sad to see the manager high-five the player as he walked off the pitch down to the dressing room.
Mallik Wilks was again the stand-out player for the Tigers. It looked like it was going to be another frustrating night for the home side, with Rochdale coming to frustrate the hosts. Greaves picked out Wilks who drifted inside before firing into the bottom corner. He was a constant threat all evening and he is certainly finding form at the right time, with seven goals in his last five games.