Home form keeps Hull comfortable

Posted by Philip Buckingham

Robbie BradyGettyImagesRobbie Brady nets from the spot for Hull as they beat West Ham.

If home is at the heart of most survival campaigns in the Premier League, Hull City are following a well-thumbed blueprint through the season's opening weeks.

Seven points from a possible nine at the KC Stadium makes Steve Bruce's side the envy of many of their top-flight rivals and on Saturday West Ham United were the latest visitor to learn little can be taken for granted in East Yorkshire.

The Tigers called in a debt from Lady Luck to squeeze out their latest triumph, with two contentious penalty calls defining a 1-0 win in their favour, but it was still another day to endorse their top-flight credentials.

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An industrious West Ham side were rendered largely impotent by the defensive strength of Steve Bruce's men. Allan McGregor, the grateful recipient of a second clean-sheet this term, barely had a save of note to make in the City goal.

It left Robbie Brady's 12th-minute penalty to settle a tight contest and send the Tigers merrily skipping into double figures.

Bruce, a man renowned for divvying his season up into segments, says his buoyant side have already clocked up twice the number of points he had expected from the opening half dozen fixtures. A win and two draws was all he had targeted by now on the eve of the new season.

Last weekend's 3-2 win at Newcastle United was the bonus win Bruce never saw coming and at the KC Stadium there has been further progress ahead of schedule.

Only Chelsea and Manchester City, both with 100 per cent records to their name, have so far taken more points than the Tigers on home turf this term. Good company to be keeping, no matter how early in the season.

City's start, and more specifically their start at home, was always destined to carry great significance after winning promotion out of the Championship.

Where their opening five away games included trips to four of last season's top six, the fixture computer offered ample compensation with a handful of inviting dates at the KC Stadium.

After Norwich, Cardiff and West Ham, a trio forced to hand over seven sweet points already, comes the visits of Aston Villa, Sunderland and Crystal Palace before the end of November. Find another win or two from those fixtures and Bruce's side will be sure to begin December in good shape.

What happens at the KC counts and Saturday's dogged performance will be another fillip ahead of facing an Aston Villa side returning to form with back-to-back wins of their own.

There will be respect for Paul Lambert's side, especially after they conquered Manchester City on Saturday, but no fear. Any stage fright that might have inhibited the Tigers during the first fortnight is a thing of the past.

Fortune is now favouring the brave of East Yorkshire and none more so than against West Ham.

In a game of two penalty claims, City were the big winners thanks to a friend in black. Kevin Friend, in fact.

First the official fell for the theatrics of Robbie Brady. There was certain contact from Joey O'Brien on his back but when Brady threw himself to the ground it was a penalty as soft as feta cheese.

Sam Allardyce was not amused, accusing Brady of simulation, much to the disappointment of Bruce, and the West Ham manager's mood darkened further during the closing stages of the game.

Although the Hammers had toiled desperately in search of an equaliser, they ought to have been given a lifeline when Ricardo Vaz Te's cross struck the elbow of City midfielder Jake Livermore in the penalty area. Quite how Friend or his assistants failed to see it remains unknown.

It allowed West Ham to leave the KC Stadium with a huge sense of injustice, but City's win was no fluke. Through Curtis Davies, Ahmed Elmohamady and Livermore they struck the woodwork three times and boasted the best player on the pitch in Tom Huddlestone. In the midst of all the hustle and bustle, that bouncing bundle of hair sat atop of the coolest head.

Next up comes Villa and the chance to make this a wonderful segment of the season ahead of the Premier League's second international break.

A fourth home game without defeat would keep momentum bubbling over that fortnight and give the top-flight further reason to approach East Yorkshire with trepidation.


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