Behind Enemy Lines: Hull City

MILLWALL are looking to get back to winning ways against Nigel Adkins’ Hull after a disappointing 3-1 defeat at home to Preston.

That result followed an impressive 1-0 win at Pride Park over Derby County, but the Lions found themselves three behind after 27 minutes on Saturday.

Ben Thompson’s introduction proved one of few positives as the midfielder scored his first goal in the second tier.

Millwall played out a 2-2 draw with Hull in the reverse fixture in December, before a 2-1 win in the FA Cup third round last month.

Lucas Ball spoke to Kathryn Batte this week.

Twitter: @KathrynBatte

Why do you support Hull?

I grew up in the area and my Dad is a lifelong fan so I didn’t get much choice. He’s been going to games since he was about six and I think I went to my first one at the age of five.

What’s been your favourite season?

That’s a difficult one, I’ve been quite lucky to have a few promotion seasons growing up.

I’d probably have to say the 2007-08 season when we got promoted to the Premier League for the first time. When I first started going to games we were in the old Division Three, now known as League Two, and I never imagined I’d ever get to see us play in the top tier.

That year was a great time to be a Hull City fan and to see Dean Windass score the winning goal for his hometown club at Wembley was a moment I’ll never forget.

And the worst?

That’s also tricky. The seasons I’ve seen which have been the worst points-wise have been in the Premier League.

I can’t pick out one season where it’s been all bad the whole way through. Our last season in the top flight which ended with relegation under Marco Silva was disappointing because it felt like we got ourselves into a position to stay up then threw it away.

That and the changed atmosphere at the club because of the off-the-field ownership issues put a bit of a dampener on things.

What do you think of Nigel Adkins?

He’s won a lot of people over, myself included, after what was a dreadful start to the season. I think the majority of fans are happy with how we’ve improved but there is still a sense that we’ve underperformed recently.

He’s not had much money to spend and overall he’s done a steady enough job to be respected.

What are the expectations for the rest of the season?

I think we’ve reached the point of the season where we’re safe from relegation but have lost sight of those above us chasing the play-offs.

After a fantastic run of results, injuries have hindered recent performances and we’ve had a few bad results.

I expect us to finish about 12th or 13th which, given our start, will probably be seen as a positive season.

Who would you like Hull to sign in the summer?

It very much depends who we lose.

I’d expect to see Jarrod Bowen leave and perhaps Kamil Grosicki as well which would leave us very light on attacking players, especially on the wing.

There’s also a few players out of contact including our captain Markus Henriksen and goalkeeper David Marshall.

In an ideal world I’d like to see us strengthen every position. Our first-choice centre-backs have struggled with injuries this year and with Chris Martin only on loan, we lack options up front.

Unless an ownership takeover happens I think a lot of our business will be in the loan market once again.

What was behind the run of six consecutive league wins after the 2-2 draw at The Den in December?

I think a lot of it was confidence. The players started to go into games believing they could win.

The victory against Leeds was a great example of the team no longer fearing opponents like they had at the start of the season. Players like Reece Burke and Kevin Stewart really excelled in that run and the form of Jarrod Bowen and Kamil Grosicki was a big factor in us winning games.

Who do Millwall need to be wary of on Tuesday night?

Jarrod Bowen and Kamil Grosicki are the obvious ones.

Bowen is chasing the golden boot and needs to keep playing well if he wants to attract interest from the big teams in the summer.

On his night Grosicki is one of the best players in the Championship but it depends if he’s on form. He’s got the most assists for us and if he too wants a move in the summer he’s got to keep performing.

Which Lions players are Hull most worried about?

It’s a bit strange to say a centre-back but I’d have to go with Jake Cooper just because he’s such a threat in the air.

We’ve conceded a few goals from set-pieces this season and if David Marshall is out injured we’ll have George Long starting his first league game in goal.

What do you think of Neil Harris?

I like Neil Harris as a manager. I think he’s done a good job with Millwall.

You came really close to the play-offs last season and though you’ve been nearer the other end of the table this year you look safe to avoid the drop. The FA Cup run keeps the season interesting for you as well and I think you’ve got a real chance of making the semi-final at Wembley.

Which Millwall player would you like Hull to sign?  

I’d have to say Jake Cooper. Like I said earlier, I liked the look of him when he played against us and we’ve been short in the central defensive area this season. He’s a strong and commanding centre-half and a threat in the air as well which is something we’ve missed this year.

What’s Hull’s likely line-up and formation?

I think we’ll probably see Reece Burke, Jordy de Wijs and Eric Lichaj come back into the team after side after Saturday’s defeat. Assuming Marshall is injured I’d guess at:


George Long; Eric Lichaj, Reece Burke, Jordy de Wijs, Stephen Kingsley, Jarrod Bowen, Markus Henriksen, Jackson Irvine, Kamil Grosicki; Evandro ; Fraizer Campbell.

Will you be there?

I will – making the trip back from university in Sheffield. Hopefully it won’t be too cold.

Finally, a score prediction.

If we have our regular centre-backs playing hopefully we will see an improvement from Saturday’s 5-1 defeat at Brentford. I’d like to say a Hull win but I can see it being a draw.


Graphic: @ShedCreative