Hull City 1 Chelsea 1

If our Premier League stay is to end in three months’ time, then I’m especially thankful for this night.

For while those of us who trek to away games have seen a triumph at Arsenal and draws at Chelsea and Liverpool, this was the first time our home crowd had seen us take a point off a Big Four side.

It was something joyous for 23,000, not just 3,000, City fans to share in, unmatched since our Premier League bow against Fulham 18 months ago.

OK, we didn’t pouch a much-needed three points to haul ourselves out of the bottom three, but at times we threatened to rip the guts out of the Premier League leaders.

It was all led by the dogged, strong and pacy Jozy Altidore and intelligently conducted by not-Wolves-bound Stephen Hunt with assured, ball-hungry youngster Tom Cairney in the midfield playmaker role.

Of course, there were several other spells when Chelsea splayed the ball round at a cracking lick and we looked vulnerable to a sucker punch goal.

But we never stopped closing the Cockneys down or putting bodies in the way, from George Boateng blocking and mopping up in midfield, through the unflustered back four, to on-form Boaz Myhill palming out several cracking goal-bound efforts.

Cheating Chelsea captain john Terry received a predictable jeer every time he touched the ball and sparked some rousing choruses from the East Stand to boot.

All fantastic, bawdy fun but needless to say it did not affect the loverat’s concentration as he continued to play it simple and assured. Even so, Altidore had a dynamite 20-minute spell where he had the full measure of his upcoming World Cup opponent and Terry received a booking for hauling him down.

Our goal came as Hunt delivered an inch-perfect dead ball from a corner following several disappointing efforts earlier in the game. His teasing delivery was met by Stephen Mouyokolo, who’d ducked away from his marker around ten yards out, and a firm header on target gave Petr Cech little chance.

Chelsea’s reply came in confusing style, with referee Mark Clattenberg awarding them a free-kick for an unknown infringement on the edge of the box when the action had already switched to a tangle of bodies well inside our penalty area.

Relief that we’d not conceded a spot-kick was short-lived, however, as Didier Drogba’s free-kick was effortlessly slotted it into the bottom corner through a crumbling wall.
City’s players appealed that a) it was supposed to be indirect but went straight in and b) the ref had not whistled for Drog to take it.

Whether there was truth in either of those protests I’m not sure, but had the nearest two players in the wall not jumped out of the ball’s way the shot would have bounced harmlessly out.

Outside of the goals, there were gilt-edged chances at either end. Antony Gardner squirmed free from a floated Cairney free-kick but from his location inside the six-yard box could not direct his header on target.

Then late on, Chelsea sub Daniel Sturridge latched onto a flick and stroked a shot towards the bottom corner before it was somehow batted out by Myhill.

That shot sneaking in would have been par for the course in our clashes with the Big Four, usually typified by a cruel twist of luck at the end of a spirited performance.

Fortunately, this night proved to be exceptional in every sense of the word.


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