Last season, the two fixtures between Hull and Brighton produced two entertaining 0-0 draws and some outstanding performances from the two goalkeepers. Brighton gained a much needed clean sheet back in February last season after being thrashed 6-1 by Liverpool in the FA Cup just a few days before.
The Seagulls came into the first league match of the season on the back of another heavy cup defeat. This time, a 3-0 defeat in the Capital One Cup away to Swindon. At the KC Stadium though, fans were confident of a result with Craig Mackail-Smith back to full fitness and in the starting line up.
Mackail-Smith was immediately involved in the game and the Seagulls could have taken the lead with just a few seconds on the clock. The record signing burst into the penalty area and latched onto Craig Noone’s inviting cross but couldn’t get the better of Ben Amos who charged down at the strikers feet and parried the ball away.
Soon after it was Mackail-Smith doing the winger’s job. Charging clear on the right wing he picked out Craig Noone in space but Joe Dudgeon was quick to see off the danger with a great tackle preventing the Seagulls winger from shooting. Soon after, Tomasz Kuszczak was tested for the first time and showed why he used to be a first choice keeper at Manchester United. Good build up play from Hull saw Sone Aluko drive the ball towards goal only for Kuszczak to dive down low and palm the ball away one-handed for a corner.
Mackail-Smith would have been happy with the service that was being provided to him. Last season he struggled with the style of football the Seagulls played and came away with only 10 goals under his belt. This time around though it seems Gus Poyet has adapted Albion’s style a little to suit Mackail-Smith. Unfortunately, he was not able to convert any of his chances. Midway through the first half, Craig Noone burst away on a trademark run down the left wing and Mackail-Smith was able to meet his perfectly timed cross with his head but couldn’t hit the target.
Both sides showed their passing abilities and a five minute spell of passing from Brighton eventually created a chance. Wayne Bridge, Liam Bridcutt and Gary Dicker all showed superb touches before summer signing Andrew Crofts had a shot from long range that only went narrowly wide.
Sone Aluko showed he wasn’t afraid to have a shot from long range and almost broke the deadlock in 10 minutes before the break. Cutting in from the left he beat Kuszczak but the ball smashed against the post. Albion fans relieved, home fans lifted. A few minutes later Robert Koren was able to find space and fire a low drive but again Kuszczak showed his quality and was equal to it.
Brighton rarely play a long ball game, but when Bruno launched the ball out of defense, it nearly worked. Mackail-Smith controlled the ball instantly and laid it off to Gary Dicker who shot low and accurately, but without power and Amos saved easily.
The second half started as the first ended with both sides going for broke. Kuszczak was tested early on by Paul McKenna who shot from distance forcing the Polish keeper to tip the ball over the bar in a rather spectacular fashion. Brighton were quick to respond with a run from Wayne Bridge. The former England international and John Terry enthusiast beat two Hull defenders and picked out Craig Noone who sent in yet another great cross to pick out Mackail-Smith but this time he could only hit the post. He was getting closer.
Craig Noone was a shadow of the player that put in such a poor performance against Swindon in the COC. The winger produced Ronaldo-like run from the left wing to a central position on the edge of the 18 yard box. His turn onto his favoured left foot out foxed Liam Rosenior but his curling shot went agonisingly wide of the post.
Brighton were dominating the game and it seemed only a matter of time before one of their many chances opened the scoring. However, Hull were able to break down a move and counter attack to create a chance themselves. Unfortunately for Robert Koren he found Wayne Bridge in his way, the Manchester City loanee superbly denied the Hull striker in a one-on-one situation.
Craig Noone was extremely lucky not to be sent off midway through the second half. Having already picked up a booking for a late tackle in the first period, he caught Liam Rosenior late and sent the home crowed into a frenzy. Stuart Atwell gave the winger a stern talking too and a few minutes later, Gus Poyet decided to take him off, replacing him with Kazenga Lualua.
Brighton were easily the best team on the pitch, but football can be a cruel game at times. Unfortunately for the Seagulls, this was going to be one of those times. Hull counter attacked in the 85th minute as Albion were caught napping. Dudgeon got clear on the right and burst towards the box, Kuszczak raced towards him and nearly took him down, Atwell waved the advantage as Dudgeon cut the ball back for Simpson who kept calm and slotted the ball home for an un-deserved winner.
Hull City - 22 Amos, 02 Rosenior, 05 Chester, 19 Dudgeon, 04 McKenna, 07 Stewart, 10 Koren, 23 Faye (Bruce – 76′), 24 Aluko, 09 Mclean (Simpson – 81′), 33 Proschwitz (Evans – 73).
Subs - 13 Oxley, 15 McShane, 28 Bruce, 08 Evans, 14 Cairney, 16 Olofinjana, 11 Simpson.
Brighton - 29 Kuszczak, 02 Bruno, 03 Greer, 06 El-Abd, 28 Bridge, 08 Crofts, 11 Noone (LuaLua – 68′), 18 Dicker (Agdestein – 89′), 26 Bridcutt, 09 Barnes, 12 Mackail-Smith.
Subs - 16 Ankergren, 05 Dunk, 14 Calderon, 22 Painter, 17 Harley, 25 LuaLua, 23 Agdestein.