The performance may have been better but the outcome was just the same as the Tigers went down to a 2-0 defeat against Southampton at St Mary’s on Saturday.
Manager Steve Bruce had called for an improved display from his side after the disappointment at Swansea seven days earlier and while he got that for the first hour at least, the away side were eventually undone by two second half goals from James Ward-Prowse (penalty) and Graziano Pelle.
Bruce had made five changes to his starting eleven for this one, opting to bench goalkeeper Allan McGregor with Steve Harper coming in. James Chester, Tom Huddlestone, Stephen Quinn and Sone Aluko also received call-ups with Robbie Brady, Gaston Ramirez, David Meyler and Abel Hernandez making way.
Operating a back four with full-back positions occupied by Chester and Paul McShane, away-day suicide was almost committed inside the opening 60 seconds when Jake Livermore’s weak back-pass sent former Tiger Shane Long through on goal but a combination of Harper and a poor touch from the striker saw the chance pass by.
The Tigers soon settled after that early scare with Quinn setting up Aluko to drag wide from 18 yards before a burst of pace from Aluko took him into the Saints’ box before a decent right-footed shot was well saved by Kelvin Davis.
The home crowd were getting edgy as nice control from Dame N’Doye when taking down a high ball brought a shooting chance for the Senegal international but he couldn’t direct it on target.
Morgan Schneiderlin sent a half-chance wide for the home side before Harper made an excellent block with his legs to deny Pelle from six yards after the striker had been picked out by Long’s pull-back from the byeline.
Aluko sent a shot just wide from 25 yards before the same player brought a foul out of Victor Wanyama which saw the Southampton player booked.
There was one more piece of work for Harper to do before the break as he saved a low effort from Toby Alderweireld.
The Tigers had the better of the opening minutes of the second half as Aluko set up Jake Livermore 18 yards out but his powerful low shot was brilliantly kept out by Davis.
It proved to be a crucial save as the home side went ahead on 56 minutes. A hopeful long ball was seized upon by Long who raced into the box and tempted Alex Bruce to make a challenge which upended the striker. There could be no complaints as the referee pointed for a penalty and half-time substitute Ward-Prowse stepped up to confidently dispatch the spot kick.
The Tigers almost produced the perfect response when Chester met a Quinn corner with a glancing header, but Ryan Bertrand was well placed to clear off the line.
McShane then saw a cross from the left just elude N’Doye six yards out before McShane himself went close with a header from Huddlestone’s corner.
Mohamed Diame and Yannick Sagbo were introduced as the visitors looked for a goal but it was Southampton who had things wrapped up nine minutes from time as Pelle finished from 12 yards.
It could have been three a minute from time as Steven Davis missed a golden chance when blazing the ball high over the bar, but the Saints had done enough as the Tigers were beaten for the third game running.
Hull City: Steve Harper, Alex Bruce, James Chester (Mohamed Diame 64), Tom Huddlestone (Yannick Sagbo 74), Jake Livermore, Paul McShane, Michael Dawson, Sone Aluko (Abel Hernandez 84), Ahmed Elmohamady, Dame N’Doye, Stephen Quinn.
Subs Not Used: Allan McGregor, Liam Rosenior, Robbie Brady, Andrew Robertson.
Southampton: Kelvin Davis, Maya Yoshida, Morgan Schneiderlin, Jose Fonte, Shane Long (Eljero Elia 74), Steven Davis, Sadio Mane (Dusan Tadic 61), Victor Wanyama (James Ward-Prowse 46), Toby Alderweireld, Graziano Pelle, Ryan Bertrand.
Subs Not Used: Paulo Gazzaniga, Nathaniel Clyne, Harrison Reed, Matthew Targett.
Referee: Mr K. Friend.