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Interviews

Smallwood Revels In ‘Best’ Hull City Game

25 January 2021

Richie Smallwood labelled his performance in the 4-0 mauling of Portsmouth as his “best” in a Hull City shirt.

The 30-year-old was named in the EFL League One Team of the Week after skippering the Tigers to their biggest win of the season.

And the experienced midfielder, who has made 23 appearances since signing from Blackburn Rovers last summer, was thrilled with his individual contribution.

“I thought it was probably my best game of the season so far personally,” said Smallwood.

“I was picking up the second balls, passing the ball forward and turning the opposition around.

“I was just trying to keep the defence and the midfield compact so that we could break from those positions to get into goalscoring ones, which we did very well.

“I feel like I’m helping the team, and particularly the young boys around me, go out and flourish.

“Hopefully the gaffer is happy with what I’m doing and keeps selecting me because I will keep giving everything.”

Smallwood excelled at the base of midfield behind Greg Docherty and George Honeyman, who popped up with the Tigers’ second goal and also contributed a league-high ninth assist.

“George was George and he’s never anything else,” Smallwood added.

“His set-piece deliveries are outstanding and his energy is unbelievable, and if he keeps popping up with goals like that he’s going to be a contender for player of the season.

"I’m sure he’ll be happy with his performances and so he should be."

Josh Magennis also netted in a scintillating display, with Jack Whatmough scoring two own goals, but it was the Tigers’ defensive solidity that pleased Smallwood most.

“We were obviously pleased with the number of goals we scored, but I think the most pleasing thing was another clean sheet,” he admitted.

“That has been a real positive for us, for the majority of the season so far. Some of our play in the second half was outstanding and, in many ways, it was a pleasure to stand back and watch.

“We’ve been pretty solid for the last four or five weeks and we’ve created our chances off the back of that and through our shape as well.

“It all seemed to come together and we were clinical. We’ve been critical of ourselves over the last few months for not being as clinical as we should have been.

“It has been good to have games like the Accrington and Portsmouth ones where we’ve managed to put a few chances away.”

Centre-backs Jacob Greaves and Alfie Jones provided the foundation for the rest of the team to express themselves – the pair just 20 and 23 years old respectively.

And Smallwood believes the defenders play with a maturity that belies their age.

“I thought Jacob and Alfie were outstanding once again,” Smallwood remarked. “They’re two young lads, but they look like two 35-year-olds at times.

“You’ve got ‘Greavesy’ with his physicality and then you’ve got Alfie with his composure and athleticism, and they’re both playing really well at the minute.

“That is our foundation, we try to base everything on a clean sheet and, the majority of the time, if they can do that and win their battles then things will fall right for us as a team.

“They were outstanding against Portsmouth and that flowed through the rest of the team.”


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