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Sunshine at the KC

Posted on 24 February 2009  - 12:00

Jonathan Woodgate picked the week of the Carling Cup final to score his first goal of the season and in doing so secured a vital Premier League win against Hull City at the KC Stadium.

Sunshine at the KC

Jonathan Woodgate picked the week of the Carling Cup final to score his first goal of the season and in doing so secured a vital Premier League win against Hull City at the KC Stadium.

The central defender, who so memorably scored the winner in the final a year ago, powered in a far more resounding header to seal victory five minutes from time after Aaron Lennon's first half opener was cancelled out before the break by Michael Turner.

Harry Redknapp made two changes from the team which began our last Premier League outing against Arsenal at the Lane. There was a return at the back for Ledley King following his hamstring injury that forced him off against Portsmouth, while Darren Bent was drafted into attack to play in tandem with Robbie Keane. Michael Dawson and Roman Pavlyuchenko started the evening on the bench.

The trip to Hull marked the beginning of a big week and a bit for the squad, who next face the challenge of overturning a two-goal UEFA Cup deficit against Shaktar Donetsk on Thursday, before we make a return visit to Wembley on Sunday for the Carling Cup final with Manchester United in opposition. Then it is back to vital Premier League business against Middlesbrough next Wednesday. It is a period of time that will do much to shape our season.

Hull were the more robust in the early exchanges, Andy Dawson seeing yellow for two fouls in quick succession, while there was a worrying free header from the first corner of the game that set a few alarm bells ringing.

Woodgate almost managed to steer a header past Carlo Cudicini in the 13th minute, with the Italian scurrying back just in time.

The threat was clearly going to come from set pieces and the home side were getting a few too many for comfort in the opening exhanges.

The game was turned on its head in the 17th minute when a short corner routine involving Robbie Keane and Luka Modric led to Lennon being presented with the ball in a bit of space on the edge of the area. He opted for power and, with Bent cleverly ducking out of the way, it was an uphill task for Matt Duke, who couldn't quite reach and the net duly rattled.

Hull responded with Kamil Zayatte getting the better of Vedran Corluka down the left hand side and it took an alert and brave Cudicini to smother and avert the danger.

It was indeed a set piece that proved our undoing when Hull levelled on 27 minutes. Cudicini did not deal effectively with a Dawson corner, the loose ball struck an unaware Wilson Palacios and ran goalwards to where Michael Turner was in position to scramble home.

Daniel Cousin then tried his luck with a piledriver from 25 yards before Modric and Keane began to impose themselves a little, along with Lennon, at the other end. Trouble was, when Hull countered, they appeared to have a lot of space to run into and, from a Dean Marney centre, Sam Ricketts was not far away with his glancing header.

The team began the second half with a decent tempo and a Bent turn and smash was foiled by Duke. However, Hull again posed problems from a corner and it took a combination of Jenas and Modric to throw themselves in front of Kevin Kilbane, who was about to make capital from a failure to sufficiently clear.

A Keane cutback in the direction of Palacios led to Anthony Gardner having the wind knocked out of him, the former Spur almost certainly denying a goal by getting in the way of the piledriver.

Pressure was applied as the hour mark passed, it was just the execution of the final ball that lacked precision and resulted in numerous moves breaking down.

A Modric free-kick on 66 minutes was delivered with precision and picked out the head of his countryman Corluka, whose header hit the crossbar.

Possession-wise the team were well on top and Harry made his first change with the introduction of Pavlyuchenko for Bent, but it was Jenas who took up the centre forward position next and just failed to make a connection with an inviting cross from Lennon.

A Dawson corner was seized on first by the substitute Bernard Mendy in the 77th minute, his header beating Cudicini but striking the post - Jenas did particularly well to steal in front of Gardner when the rebound was looking on for the big centre half.

It was a case of heads, Woody wins, in the 85th minute when a superbly flighted cross from Benoit Assou-Ekotto was met by the rising figure of Woodgate, who planted his header into the top left hand corner of the net, giving Duke absolutely no chance.

Woodgate was moments later withdrawn, streaming blood from a head wound and replaced by Michael Dawson.

Hull went for broke, but four minutes of stoppage time were successfully seen though and three points were happily banked.