Hull City held to goalless draw with Norwich City in final pre-season friendly
IF HULL City’s final friendly marked the dress rehearsal to new season, Steve Bruce will know his evolving side still has lines to master before the Championship campaign begins in 10 days.
A goal-less draw with Premier League side Norwich City last night was commendable enough, but those long-standing attacking flaws are surely troubling the new boss.
In the last five of City’s seven friendlies through July and into August, just three goals were scored.
Hardly a cause for widespread panic in Bruce’s final plans, but perhaps enough to trigger the odd pang of anxiety.
£10 off your First Session of Counselling or CBT (Hull)View details
If you are feeling unhappy, confused, anxious or angry about your life, then a few sessions of counselling or CBT will help you gain clarity & direction. Confidential, Informal, Friendly.
Terms: New Clients Only - Please Mandi on (01482) 850550 or 07717210969 to book.
Contact: 01482 423349
Valid until: Wednesday, July 31 2013
Old habits are dying hard under an ambitious new regime.
At the KC, the stage for so many blanks last season, Norwich goalkeeper John Ruddy was not asked to make a single save of note as the countdown towards a new season ticked down.
Encouragingly there was an abundance of pleasant build-up play and defensive strength, but City offered up scant few goalscoring chances ahead of this weekend’s League Cup tie with Rotherham.
Norwich, to their credit, were a tough nut to crack.
Disciplined and hard-working, the top-flight Canaries were the sternest test faced by the Tigers by some distance.
Robert Snodgrass, signed from Leeds this summer, was the closest of any to breaking the deadlock but his first-half shot wide of the upright summed up a fixture bereft of a cutting edge from both sides.
Bruce has bemoaned a sustained injury list that has limited scope for experiment but those concerns gratefully appear to be receding at just the right time.
With Liam Rosenior and James Chester restored to the starting XI after pre-season injuries, and four of Bruce’s six summer recruits included, it was a side that will surely bear great resemblance to the one that will face Brighton a week on Saturday.
Unlike the weekend stalemate at Hartlepool, this was a return to a rigid 4-4-2 shape from the Tigers.
Sone Aluko, right, and Robert Koren, left, offered the threats from wide, while Nick Proschwitz partnered Aaron Mclean in attack.
While Matty Fryatt will be in the reckoning to usurp Mclean, it could be interpreted as a clear sign of things to come.
The dividends, in the main, were encouraging during an open first half.
Aluko’s pace was a regular irritation to full-back Marc Tierney and the obvious highlight but, in general, City found a tempo seldom produced in their previous half-dozen pre-season friendlies.
The lack of a goalscoring threat was still there to irk Bruce, but at least there was intent to trouble their Premier League visitors. The same could not have been said of Saturday’s dour trip to Hartlepool.
The closest City came to opening the scoring was an early chance for Proschwitz. Koren’s inviting free-kick begged to be given the finishing touch but the German striker could not turn in at the far post.
For all City’s possession and improved energy, the first half’s best chances undoubtedly fell to Norwich.
A Snodgrass cross was headed over by Grant Holt as early as the second minute before the provider came to the fore with two fine opportunities.
The first was brilliantly blocked by Chester and the second was curled wide when Snodgrass came within inches of capping a fine one-two with another Leeds old boy Johnny Howson.
City keeper Ben Amos was largely untroubled in the opening 45 minutes but had to earn his corn when called into action late in the half. A teasing cross-cum-shot from Russell Martin appeared destined to drop fortuitously under the bar until the impressive newcomer tipped over.
The second half failed to see Rosenior remerge as Bruce kept one eye on this weekend’s visit of Rotherham. Paul McShane’s return from a calf strain provided further cause for injury relief.
City continued to probe after the break yet without causing much alarm in a well-drilled Norwich defence, led by ex-Tiger Michael Turner until his withdrawal on the hour mark.
Ruddy was a relative bystander in the Norwich goal and such inactivity from City’s frontline led Bruce to shuffle his pack with the introduction of Matty Fryatt and Cameron Stewart.
As was often the case at the KC in 2011-12, the Tigers were a nearly side going forward.
All the due care was taken with passes inside unthreatening areas, only for balls to go awry at the last. Tom Cairney’s heavy pass to Proschwitz with Norwich stretched was just one example of the home side’s missed chances.
The German striker is in need of a break. Although his industry and aerial strengths are enough to trouble opposition defenders, he has spent his first month in England feeding off scraps.
Bruce will attempt to keep Proschwitz’s confidence intact but a goal in August would go a long way to lifting the burden of pressure that will inevitably fall his way.
Pre-season ends here and a new campaign begins with a League Cup clash with Rotherham.
The visit of the Millers at least offers one more chance to hit the right notes and ensure an indifferent pre-season is soon forgotten.