'One win can end Hull City's sticky patch,' says Alex Bruce after Barnsley defeat
ALEX Bruce has called for "level heads" as Hull City face a pivotal month in their chase for automatic promotion out of the Championship.
A disappointing January hit another flat note on Saturday when the Tigers' involvement in the FA Cup was ended for another year with a 1-0 defeat to Barnsley at the KC Stadium.
Since City produced their performance of the season to dispatch Leeds 2-0 in the final fixture of 2012, six league and cup games have brought just one victory, in the FA Cup third round replay against Leyton Orient.
A short training break in Portugal this week will provide the Tigers with a chance to refocus ahead of Saturday's trip to Millwall, and Bruce is confident a return to form can be just around the corner.
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"You're not going to go through a season in the Championship where everything is rosy," said the City defender.
"You're going to pick up injuries and go through sticky patches.
"One win and we can soon get back on a run, that's the way football is and that's the way we've got to look at it.
"We can't beat ourselves up, just like we can't dwell on winning games and thinking we've cracked it.
"It's about keeping a level head and if we can do that between now and the end of the season then I'm sure we'll be okay."
City fell to an all too familiar FA Cup fate on Saturday as Chris Dagnall's 70th-minute winner booked Barnsley a place in the last 16 at the expense of their misfiring hosts, who now face 18 league games to shape their season.
Six of those will come inside a busy February where third-placed City will attempt to recapture form lost over recent weeks.
A dearth of creativity was the Tigers' undoing against Barnsley and Bruce is well aware their attacking fortunes must improve.
"There has been some very good performances this season but that cutting edge in front of goal is not quite there," he said. "We need to start taking those chances and if we do then I'm sure we'll kick on again.
"I'm sure we created more chances than Barnsley and defensively we were pretty sound too.
"If you don't take your chances, though, you can be vulnerable. How many times do we see it in football? That's disappointing but the league is now our sole aim."
For the second year running, City's FA Cup hopes were ended by a 1-0 home defeat in the fourth round. Where Crawley Town succeeded in 2012, it was Barnsley's turn this weekend.
Bruce added: "It was a classic smash and grab if ever there was one.
"We played very well in the first half but we couldn't take our chances and they've done us on the counter-attack at the end.
"They got in the game a bit after half-time and the goal was maybe a little bit fortunate in terms of ricochets falling to their lad. That's disappointing but we have to concentrate on the league now."