Report: Hull City 1-0 Bolton
Wanderers suffered a narrow 1-0 defeat at the hands of Hull City at the KC Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
In a first half of few chances, the hosts broke the deadlock in the 19th minute through Chuba Akpom, the striker slamming home after David Wheater had cleared Ahmed Elmohamady’s initial effort off the line.
Wanderers rallied for an equalising goal with Neil Danns being denied by the post early on in the second half, but their efforts were to prove fruitless at the final whistle.
Rob Holding came into the starting XI for Wanderers for the first time since featuring against Burton Albion in August, while Mark Davies also made an immediate return to the Whites’ line-up after serving his suspension against Cardiff City last weekend.
It was certainly a feisty encounter inside the opening stages at the KC Stadium with tackles flying in from both sides on the rain-sodden pitch.
The home side enjoyed the first sight of goal in the sixth minute as Michael Dawson swung a dangerous ball across the face of goal, only for it to be headed harmlessly wide at the back post.
Neither team were able to get any form of a real foothold in the game however, with clear cut chances few and far between and each defence standing firm.
Holding was called into action in the 13th minute when forced to pit his wits against the pacey Ahmed Elmohamady on the right flank, but the academy graduate did well to stave off the Hull man and clear his line.
Six minutes later however, the hosts finally breached Wanderers’ rear guard with Akpom firing home after Wheater had cleared an initial Elmohamady effort off the goal line.
The first real chance of the game, it was one which lifted the home faithful although Bolton were quickly back on the attack themselves with Liam Feeney turning his man in the box before firing wide of the mark.
The game quickly reverted back to its earlier form however, with much of the play being contested in the middle third of the pitch as the game moved towards the half hour mark.
With half time fast approaching, Sam Clucas attempted to elude Ben Amos in the Bolton goal with a lofted ball into the six yard box, but the goalkeeper was on his guard to pluck it out of the air to safety.
Clucas was in the thick of the action again minutes later after a pin-point Elmohamady cross found him just a matter of yards out from goal, but he somehow managed to fire his effort over the crossbar to the disbelief of all inside the KC Stadium.
And that was to be the final act of the first period with referee Michael Bull blowing for the break shortly after.
There was just the one change at half time for Wanderers, with Jay Spearing replacing Darren Pratley who had suffered an injury earlier on in the clash.
And Bolton almost had an immediate equaliser when, following clever build up play by Mark Davies, the midfielder found the feet of Neil Danns whose effort slammed against the post with Allan McGregor a beaten man.
The visitors’ pressure continued with Shola Ameobi’s header back across the face of goal from a Spearing free-kick only just been caught by the Hull keeper inside the opening three minutes of the half.
There seemed to be fire in the bellies of the Bolton players with the home side forward to be on their guard as Wanderers went in search of an equalising goal.
The Whites carried on throwing men forward and were awarded a free-kick with 56 minutes gone, only for Dean Moxey’s shot from Spearing’s delivery to trickle harmlessly wide.
The second period was certainly proving livelier than the first with the game falling into an end to end encounter as the rain fell steadily on the turf.
The introduction of Emile Heskey with 22 minutes remaining gave Wanderers fresh legs in their fight to pull level, with the frontman replacing Ameobi.
This change was followed shortly afterwards by Stephen Dobbie coming on in place of Josh Vela.
There wasn’t much between the two sides in terms of chances, with Heskey’s curling effort from the edge of the box flying narrowly past the far post in the 75th minute.
Up the other end meanwhile, Elmohamady attempted to find Akpom in the box, only for him to fire wide under pressure.
With the game entering its final stages, both sides continued to push with Hull looking for a goal that would put the result beyond Wanderers while Dobbie tried his luck from distance with McGregor fumbling his shot and collecting at the second attempt.
The home side were being forced to keep men back as Bolton continued to fight for a leveller and with three minutes of additional time indicated, it was all hands to the pump.
Jake Livermore came close to doubling Hull’s advantage meanwhile deep into stoppage time following a counter attack from the home side, but the deficit remained at one at the final whistle as Wanderers slipped to defeat.