'Stay grounded': Classy Hull City joint top after win at Derby but Bruce wants level heads
STEVE Bruce urged his Hull City side to keep their feet on the ground, despite storming up to second in the Championship with a 2-1 win at Derby County.
Goals from Robert Koren and Abdoulaye Faye either side of Michael Jacobs' leveler in first-half stoppage time led City to a fourth consecutive victory last night and their 10th win in 14 games.
The perfect December, with wins against Nottingham Forest, Watford, Huddersfield and now Derby, has propelled the Tigers above Middlesbrough and Crystal Palace, and leveller on points with league-leaders Cardiff City.
City's automatic promotion rivals will have the opportunity to wrestle back the initiative when in action today, but a climb to their highest position since relegation from the Premier League has provided the Tigers' with a timely boost at the halfway mark of the season.
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Bruce was thrilled with his side's efforts but called for level heads as they turn their attentions to home games against Leicester and Leeds in the next week.
"It's nice and it gives us a bit of a lift. I feel as though we're still going under the radar and that's the way I've wanted it all along," Bruce said. "But we've given ourselves a chance. That's all it is because we're only halfway there, but it's a great chance.
"I don't feel as though it's a fluke that we're joint top of the league. The question is whether or not we can sustain it over the winter and mount a challenge all the way through.
"We have to keep our feet on the ground and work hard over a difficult Christmas period ahead."
Bruce was again thrilled with his side's efforts on the road last night and added: "Away from home, sometimes you have to be a bit resilient and defend. We certainly did that.
"Derby are a good side and you could see why they've got one of the best records here. We found it difficult in the first half but in the second half we got a grip of it and I felt we were terrific. All in all it was another great display."
City's hard-fought victory had similarities with the triumphs at Birmingham, Forest and Watford.
Although not at their fluent best, the resilience of a well-drilled defence helped City to become only the second side to snatch three points from Pride Park.
The Tigers' win also owed plenty to debutant Eldin Jakupovic in goal. A spectacular save to deny Paul Coutts in the second half was the highlight of his night and Bruce paid tribute to his impact.
"I thought he was terrific. I said from the start that when you bring in a foreign player you've got to give them time. We're seeing that with Nick Proschwitz as well," Bruce said.
"It's not been easy for Eldin. He's been in a dark place at times, but he did very well and I'm delighted for him."