There’s something about the City Ground which brings the resilient best out of the Tigers and while the cast may have changed over the years, the performance was just the same as Steve Bruce’s side earned a 1-0 victory at Nottingham Forest on Saturday.
Arriving having won on their previous three visits to this venue, the Tigers made it four in a row thanks to Abel Hernandez’s tap-in four minutes before half time.
Resilient the away side may have been, but there was more than that in this display which merited the three points. In fact, the three points could quite easily have come with a bigger winning margin had Hernandez netted a first half penalty and Mohamed Diame’s strike hadn’t cannoned back off the woodwork.
Nevertheless, when they needed to be, Bruce’s men were at their stubborn best at the back, especially when coming under pressure late on despite Forest being reduced to ten men three minutes from time. They saw the job through.
Bruce made two changes to his starting eleven following last weekend’s draw with Blackburn Rovers as Jake Livermore and Shaun Maloney came in for Andrew Robertson and Chuba Akpom. It meant a reshuffle with Moses Odubajo operating at left back, Ahmed Elmohamady at right back with a central midfield three of Mohamed Diame, Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore, leaving Maloney and Sam Clucas to support Hernandez in attack.
Curtis Davies made an important block to Henri Lansbury’s low cross as Forest looked to press early, but the first chance of the afternoon came the way of the visitors when Diame headed Elmohamady’s cross straight at Dorus de Vries in the home goal.
The Forest stopper made another routine save moments later, this time from a Hernandez header, before Allan McGregor made his first stops of the afternoon, the first a simple take from Chris O’Grady’s low shot, the second more difficult as he pushed Nelson Oliveira’s 20-yarder wide.
Diame was oh so close to giving the Tigers a 19th-minute lead when he collected Livermore’s pass before unleashing a rocket of a shot which came back off the angle of post and bar with de Vries beaten all ends up.
However, despite being the better side, some sloppy Tigers play was almost punished midway through the half as a loose pass was seized upon by O’Grady, McGregor managing to claw the striker’s deflected shot to safety.
Play was soon back at the other end as Livermore’s clever ball sent Maloney racing into the Forest box and when he went down under the challenge of Matt Mills, the referee pointed to the penalty spot. Mills was lucky to only be booked. Hernandez stepped up to take the spot kick, but a poor low effort was saved by de Vries.
Livermore flashed an effort wide from distance before the breakthrough came on 41 minutes. Powerful work from Diame down the left won a corner for his side and some quick thinking from Maloney saw it delivered to the near post almost straight away. A run from Clucas was enough to distract the home defence and when the ball landed at the feet of Hernandez at the back post just a yard out, he tapped home into the net. Forest found reason to complain, de Vries seeing yellow for taking his protestations too far.
Clucas was denied by de Vries as the Tigers finished the half strongly, but it was McGregor who was the first keeper at work after the break as he kept out Oliveira’s shot.
Michael Dawson, playing against the club where his career started, was denied twice in quick succession by de Vries, the second of which saw the Forest keeper scrambling along his line to keep out the centre-back’s side-footed volley from a Maloney corner.
Henri Lansbury sent a couple of efforts wide for the hosts before McGregor did well to push away Jamie Ward’s long-range attempt.
Tempers began to fray in the final five minutes with Clucas and Eric Lichaj booked for confronting each other inside the Tigers’ box before Mills saw red following a challenge on substitute Akpom on halfway.
Davies deflected a Tyler Walker effort over his own bar as the game entered six minutes of added time but there was to be no repeat of last weekend’s late heartache as the Tigers stood firm to take all three points.
Hull City: Allan McGregor, Moses Odubajo, Curtis Davies, Tom Huddlestone (David Meyler 79), Abel Hernandez (Chuba Akpom 74), Sam Clucas, Jake Livermore, Shaun Maloney, Mohamed Diame (Sone Aluko 69), Michael Dawson, Ahmed Elmohamady.
Subs Not Used: Eldin Jakupovic, Alex Bruce, Harry Maguire, Andrew Robertson.
Nottingham Forest: Dorus de Vries, Eric Lichaj, Matt Mills, Jack Hobbs, Daniel Pinillos, Michael Mancienne (Kyle Ebecilio 56 (Jamie Ward 77)), Henri Lansbury, David Vaughan, Ryan Mendes (Tyler Walker 81), Chris O'Grady, Nelson Oliveira.
Subs Not Used: Dimitar Evtimov, Danny Fox, Jonathan Williams, Chris Burke.
Referee: Mr N. Miller.
Attendance: 20,985 (1,952 Visiting Supporters).