Hull City 1 Nottingham Forest 2: match report
HULL City wasted a golden opportunity to pull clear in the Championship's automatic promotion race when surrendering a lead to lose 2-1 at home to Nottingham Forest this afternoon.
The Tigers had been on course for a fifth straight home win when George Boyd struck late in the first half to provide a slender advantage, but Forest produced a stirring response as second half goals from Darius Henderson and Lewis McGugan helped them snatch all three points.
It was the first time in Steve Bruce's reign that City had scored the opening goal and lost, and the Tigers' first home in the league since losing to Sheffield Wednesday in mid-January.
Only a 1-0 defeat for third-placed Watford at Barnsley offered any sort of consolation for Bruce, but Crystal Palace can jump up to second with a win at Brighton tomorrow.
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The Championship's stand-out fixture, with second-placed City playing host to an in-form Forest side, lived up to its star billing from the outset.
Robbie Brady's free-kick into the side netting had supporters celebrating prematurely as early as the second minute, while both Boyd and Robert Koren kept goalkeeper Karl Darlow busy with early efforts.
A rejuvenated Forest, chasing their sixth consecutive win under Billy Davies, also had their chances. Adlene Guedioura hit a low drive that David Stockdale did well to save but the busy Simon Cox fired horribly over from the rebound.
City continued to press in search of an opener and saw Jack Hobbs' header from Ahmed Elmohamady's cross tipped over by Darlow, and within a minute Gedo was denied by the same figure when connecting well with Brady's deep centre.
Another good chance fell to Gedo when Boyd's flick carved open the Forest defence, but the Egyptian striker could not add to his impressive tally at the KC when dragging wide.
City's bright half appeared set to go unrewarded until Boyd popped up with a moment of magic in first-half stoppage time.
A deep corner was kept alive by David Meyler and when Darius Henderson failed to clear, Boyd was on hand to hook an inventive effort over the static Darlow and into the back of the net. The on-loan forward needed no encouragement to mock the 3,000 travelling supporters, who had earlier chanted "he's only got on eye" in reference to his failed medical at the City Ground in January, when celebrating his goal with imaginary glasses.
Boyd lapped up the sense of occasion and almost grabbed a second five minutes after half-time.
Exchanging passes with Gedo down the right channel, a pull-back was met sweetly but against the back of covering defender Elliott Ward.
Just as Forest's threats had begun to look minimal, they were level in the 55th minute. A break down their left flank brought a cross from Radoslaw Majewski, turned on to the bar by Cox. City's relief was short-lived, though, as Henderson pounced to slide in the rebound.
Forest's equaliser invited a wobble from the Tigers and Cox was again close when failing to latch on to Danny Collins' header back across the goal.
City recovered, however, and twice gave their visitors a scare. Stephen Quinn's low shot was kept out by the legs of Darlow, before Brady, whose drilled shot had brought about the chance, came within a whisker when curling a free-kick wide of the post.
The game begged out for a winner and it duly came from the left foot of McGugan five minutes from time.
A scrappy exchange in the City box saw Billy Sharp turn Dexter Blackstock's knock-down across goal and McGugan, who had only been on for 13 minutes as a substitute, showed a cool head to fire through the legs of Stockdale.
City still had two wonderful opportunities of their own to rescue something from the game. Brady's free-kick against the bar was agonisingly close to a leveller, before Chris Cohen cleared Jay Simpson's follow up off the line. The same misfortune struck Alex Bruce minutes later when his towering header was cleared by Henri Lansbury.
Forest were eventually able to cling on for a sixth consecutive win and deal the Tigers' automatic promotion hopes a cruel blow heading into the international break.
• Gallery: Hull City v Nottingham Forest in pictures