Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Hull 2 - 2 Leeds

Manager Simon Grayson recalled Davide Somma to his starting line-up, in place of the injured Sanchez Watt, as United returned to league action after a 10-day break.
Unsurprisingly, Hull were boosted by a full house for the clash and it was against that backdrop that the hosts almost snatched the lead inside the opening 30 seconds. Robert Koren escaped down the Hull right and Aaron McLean contrived to waste a great chance from close range.
But United also threatened within the first five minutes when Robert Snodgrass whipped in a corner, and Bradley Johnson headed over. George McCartney also did well down the left to create space for Max Gradel, but the winger couldn't keep his shot down.
It was McCartney himself who had a shot moments later, following good work by Somma, and Brad Guzan had to get down well to turn his effort around the post. The resultant corner saw Snodgrass pick out Johnson again, with the header just going wide.
Leeds actually settled quickly and looked to stretch Hull by moving the ball around and into wide areas.
And Luciano Becchio thought he had scored for Leeds inside the opening 15 minutes when Guzan, whose feet were well inside the goal, grabbed a header which the striker felt had crossed the line. Snodgrass also shouted for the goal, claiming the keeper had caught the ball over the line.
Leeds were looking threatening during the first 20 minutes or so and Anthony Gerrard made a good header to cut out a Gradel cross while Somma was waiting - but the hosts responded with a warning shot of their own, Kasper Schmeichel getting a decisive touch on a Koren strike from distance.
Schmeichel also saved well when Gerrard turned a powerful Koren free-kick towards goal, only to be denied by the palm of the Dane.
The opening exchanges were also punctuated by a number of free-kicks, awarded by Graham Salisbury, and it was from another of those that Corry Evans won a corner when he crept in with a header at the far post. Play was held up before the corner while Snodgrass received treatment following a bang on the head. From the corner, Aaron McLean headed wide.
With Hull enjoying a useful spell of pressure, Andy O'Brien became the first Leeds player to get booked for a foul on McLean.
But the visitors still took the lead in the 33rd minute after McLean found himself in acres of space in the middle of the park and was able to thread a ball through to Matty Fryatt who tucked the ball wide of Schmeichel and into the net.
And it got worse for Leeds before the break when Jamie Chester found space to head home a corner from close range.
But Snodgrass gave United hope almost immediately. Somma won a free-kick on the edge of the box and the Scot stepped up and curled home a beauty which Guzan could only admire.
There was still time for Cameron Stewart to threaten down the Hull left, but Gradel averted the danger by heading away his cross. Amd, right on the stroke of half-time, Hull fashioned out another half-chance, Schmeichel scrambling clear a deflected effort from Fryatt.
The second half kicked off in a strangely subdued atmosphere as United looked to get back on terms.
And it was United who tested Guzan on 55 minutes when the keeper could only parry an effort from Snodgrass.
Within 60 seconds United were level. McCartney launched a throw into the box, Somma smashed the ball against the underside of the bar, as Snodgrass arrived on the line to make sure. Somma was quick to claim the goal and Snodgrass wheeled away straight to the South African as United made it 2-2.
United have made a habit of coming from behind this season - Grayson's men came from two behind to win at Burnley before Christmas - and confidence will have been high once again with over half-an-hour remaining.
Moments later, United forced a corner when a Gradel free-kick was headed away by a home defender.
With 21 minutes left on the clock, Grayson made his first change, Lloyd Sam coming on for goalscorer Somma. Sam's first intervention, though, was to be in the right place at the right time to make a block a goalbound header while stood on the line at a corner.
The game had lost the spark of the first half, but it was very finely balanced going into the final 15 minutes with both sides probing and looking to create the all-important winner.
Gradel was looking lively for United and was twice crowded out as he looked to cut in from the flanks. Jonny Howson also ran from deep inside his own half before finally being closed down
At the other end, Sam again cleared off his line following another headed corner while Johnson also made a decisive header, following a Hull cross.
Four minutes from time, Grayson made his second change, Billy Paynter stepping off the bench to replace Becchio and it was Leeds who were pressing for a winner with a decent spell of pressure.
Hull then came forward on the break and there was a lengthy stoppage for Liam Rosenior to receive treatment after Leeds returned the ball back upfield. Rosenior was attended to by five medics along with the Hull physio as the game was held up for almost seven minutes before the defender was stretchered from the pitch.
Play was stopped for so long that there was then a lengthy debate about where the game should re-start with players from both sides offering differing opinions.
As the game entered its tenth minute past the 90, McCartney was booked after quibbling over a throw-in he felt he should have won as Leeds looked to mount one final raid. Sam also fired wide in the 111th minute of the game before the whistle was finally blown as United collected a second successive away draw.


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