Tuesday night saw two of the Sky Bet Championship’s in-form sides square off against each other at Griffin Park, as Brentford hosted Hull City.
The Bees went into Tuesday’s encounter on the crest of a wave having won their previous four league games; results that have drastically changed their season around and replaced their status as relegation fodder, with them now being genuine contenders for the play-offs since Lee Carsley has taken charge.
Visitors Hull City started the game in second place and were unbeaten in their last eight league games, winning five, and it was the Tigers who extended their run of form at Griffin Park, as Scotland international, Andy Robertson, gave the Tigers the lead in the 67th minute, before Sam Clucas doubled the East Yorkshire side’s advantage four minutes from time.
A huge win for Hull City, but what did we learn?
1. Hull City look the real deal
After an indifferent start to the season and a lot of tampering from manager, Steve Bruce, the Tigers seem to have found the right formula.
Hull City have started the last four league games in a basic 4-4-2 system, and it’s worked. Four wins out of four, including big victories over sides such as Birmingham City and Brentford.
Bruce’s side don’t seem to have suffered a relegation hangover, and find themselves top of the pile in the Sky Bet Championship, joint on points with Burnley and Brighton and Hove Albion, but with a superior goal difference, with the Tigers only conceding eight goals all season, and keeping four cleansheets out of their last five.
The Tigers face a huge test on Saturday as 4th placed Middlesbrough travel to the KC Stadium, and a victory for Bruce’s side would single the Tigers out as promotion favourites.
2. Brentford much improved
Since Lee Carsley has taken over at Griffin Park, the former Everton midfielder has injected more discipline into the Bees and made them a lot harder to break down.
Brentford outplayed Hull City in the first half on Tuesday and were unfortunate not to head into the break with the lead, but for a string of smart saves by Allan McGregor.
As the Tigers grew into the game in the second half, Brentford showed the resilience that is needed every week to propel a side up the Sky Bet Championship table, and despite the defeat, Carsley’s side will pose a stern challenge for most teams in the league, and travel to Blackburn Rovers on Saturday, where Carsley will be hoping his side can get back to winning ways.
3. Sam Clucas was an inspired signing
Steve Bruce took a risk in the summer when her forked out £1.4 million to add Sam Clucas to his recently relegated squad.
The 25 year old had never played in the Sky Bet Championship and had only spent a season in League One with Chesterfield before making the move to East Yorkshire.
Since his arrival at the KC Stadium however, Clucas has been in outstanding form, netting his second goal of the season on Tuesday night after assisting Hull City’s opener, and being a constant threat, whether Steve Bruce deploys him on the left or in behind the strikers.
Having graduated from Leicester City’s youth academy in 2007, Clucas had spent most of his career in non-league football, but the challenge of Championship football has not phased the versatile winger who is taking the opportunity with both hands, and looks a bargain.