Saturday 21 April 2018

Dowie seeks travel sickness cure to keep Tigers safe

Jamie Holland

HULL manager Iain Dowie knows that the Tigers are going to have to break their away-day jinx if they are to stand a chance of escaping relegation from the Premier League.

Defeat at Stoke was their 13th in 17 matches on the road this season but their drought actually stretches back to March 4 last year, when they managed to beat Fulham at Craven Cottage.

Fortunately, four of their remaining six matches are at the KC Stadium. However, with Aston Villa and Liverpool -- on the final day -- yet to visit, Dowie is keen to pick up points in crucial fixtures at Birmingham and Wigan.

Hull's problems were crystal clear at the Britannia Stadium. In only the sixth minute, defender Paul McShane misread Dave Kitson's flick-on with disastrous consequences, as Ricardo Fuller nipped in behind him and raced into the penalty area to beat Boaz Myhill.

"We cannot afford to concede goals in that manner -- they clear the ball from the back, win a flick-on and are through on goal," said Dowie.

Their problems were compounded when, having used all three subs, captain George Boateng was carried off on a stretcher after being knocked unconscious by Tuncay Sanli's attempted overhead kick.

For 15 minutes -- plus a further eight added on for the injury -- the visitors had to play with 10 men and Liam Lawrence exploited the extra space to fire home the decisive second goal in the last minute of regulation time.

Stoke manager Tony Pulis admitted he could breathe easier now his side had reached 42 points but challenged the players to go on and surpass last year's total.

"The most important thing for us is to stay in the Premier League for a few years because we lost a generation of supporters when we were out of it for 23 seasons," Pulis said.

A superb second-half fightback from Fulham ensured woeful Wigan remain in the relegation battle after the Latics lost at Craven Cottage yesterday.

Goals from substitute Stefano Okaka and Brede Hangeland completed the home side's recovery after Jason Scotland's goal had put Wigan in front in the 34th minute. The defeat leaves Wigan in 16th, four points clear of the bottom three while Fulham stay on course for a top-10 finish.

Afterwards, Fulham manager Roy Hodgson asked for some "sympathy and understanding" from the fans who booed them off the pitch at half time.

"The crowd has been fantastic but you do hope sometimes that people show some degree of understanding for the level of difficulty people are being faced with," Hodgson said.

"I am just taking the moment to remind fans we do still try to give everything, but there is going to come a time in these last six games when I'm sure we will disappoint them.

"No team can go on and on and on. I am just making the point that we have done so much this year that I know that, sooner or later, we are going to hit a barrier."

Irish Independent

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