A controversial opener from Ryan Longman and a header from Mallik Wilks saw Hull City record only their fourth win of the season at the MKM Stadium, with Birmingham City letting their ill discipline get the better of them both on and off the pitch. Gary Gardener saw red and Blues fans twice caused the game to be stopped after throwing bottles onto the pitch.
Story of the match
The home side switched their usual formation up to 3-5-2, primarily due to both right backs Lewie Coyle and Josh Emmanuel being unavailable through injury. The latter was hosptialized at the back end of this week, but has thankfully been discharged and is recovering well according to a club statement. Birmingham also went three at the back, with Scott Hogan and Troy Deeney up top.
Both sides saw plenty of the ball early on, and the first range chance came to the home side with Josh Magennis after a ball in from Ryan Longman. This saw a corner won for the Tigers, but eventually a dubious offside flag brought an end to the attack. Mallik Wilks - playing as part of a two up front with Magennis - won a free kick on eight minutes, and George Honeyman's delivery forced a couple of corners which Di'Shon Bernard just couldn't get on the end of.
Ryan Longman was impressing on the left hand side, and his whipped cross on 12 minutes met the head of Keane Lewis-Potter, but he couldn't keep the effort down and it went high over Matija Sarkic's goal. Greg Docherty's driving run from his own half saw a cross that Sarkic claimed easily soon after.
Then came the moment of controversy. The ever impressive Longman drove with the ball down the left side, and cut the ball back for George Honeyman to tap in for the opening goal. Birmingham were furious as they felt Longman had overrun the ball for a goal kick, but the goal stood. It was the Tigers' first opening goal they had scored since Middlesbrough at home back at the start of October.
Jacob Greaves' cross into the box almost saw Magennis get on the end of it but for superb defending from Harlee Dean. Mallik Wilks did superbly to get in ball in behind on 24 minutes, but his indecision cost him and after the ball had pinged around the area a couple of times Birmingham cleared their lines.
Marc Roberts had a half chance from a corner for Birmingham but Magennis cleared, and Bernard marauded through to the edge of the area from his own box with Sarkic making a diving save down to his left. Harlee Dean was lucky to get away with an off the ball incident with Wilks the referee didn't see just before the half hour mark with the home side still looking to counter attack.
Scott Hogan deservedly went into the book for a pull back on Richie Smallwood on 33 minutes, and then Troy Deeney picked Honeyman's pocket who played in Hogan for the away side's first big chance. Nathan Baxter stepped up well to save from the striker, stopping a certain goal that got the home fans on their feet.
A late challenge on Docherty by Gary Gardener drew an angry reaction from the home crowd, as well as Magennis who went head to head with him. Gardener then moved his head towards Magennis in a headbutt and the referee sent off the midfielder with no hesitation. It seemed the correct decision from the stands as Gardener lashing out left the referee with no real option.
Longman's effort in the first of four minutes added time just curled wide as Hull tried to capitalize on the extra man advantage. Bernard went into the book for a high foot on Deeney, but the home side would have been delighted with the first period. Birmingham however, were not - and their fans made their feelings heard towards the officials as they walked off.
Birmingham made one change at half time, with Dean being replaced by Jordan James. Lee Boyer made formation changes and the away side had a go, trying to put pressure on the Hull back line right from the off.
On 56 minutes, Hull doubled their lead. Superb passing from the back saw Honeyman get the ball on the right hand side, playing in Lewis-Potter. He twisted and turned Jeremie Bela before putting in a peach of a cross to the back post for Mallik Wilks to head home.
Birmingham felt they should have had a handball on 58 minutes, but the referee disagreed - and good work from Docherty, Lewis-Potter and Honeyman saw City almost score a third. Deeney made way for Lukas Jutkiewicz on the hour mark, and Magennis went close soon after following good work from Longman.
Bela had a freekick saved by Baxter before a ball from Honeyman almost saw Magennis flick the ball in, but the effort went just wide. Birmingham fans then spoilt precedings, causing two different stoppages by throwing bottles onto the pitch - despite their own players visibly discouraging them. Tyler Smith and Randell Williams then replaced Josh Magennis and Ryan Longman. Smith almost assisted for Wilks straight away but Sarkic saved well.
Lewis-Potter played in Randell Williams with 12 minutes to go but his shot was blocked before Honeyman left the pitch to standing ovation, replaced by Andy Cannon. Williams almost got on the score sheet when his effort drifted just wide of the far post.
Takeaways from the match
Terrific Tigers ease to victory
There may have been some controversy regarding Hull's opener, but the home side were excellent throughout. They were first to every ball and controlled the game from start to finish - and they could have added to their total. The back three McCann deployed allowed the wingbacks to get lots of joy down the flanks, and the Tigers fans will have gone home extremely happy.
Birmingham's ill discipline on and off the pitch costs them
After getting the bad end of a decision for the opening goal, it was clear to see that the Blues players let their frustrations get the best of them. Gary Gardener's challenge on Docherty was cynical and deserved a booking, but he let himself get wound up by Magennis and fully deserved his red card. This spilled out to the away end, with Blues fans twice causing stoppages to the game by throwing beer bottles onto the pitch. There will surely be a punishment for the away side following this.
Birmingham City players had an afternoon to forget, but many of Hull City's players showed the form they were capable of last season. Keane Lewis-Potter and Ryan Longman were the pick going forward, but there were huge positives all over the park for Grant McCann's men who recorded their first back to back win this season.