Callum Elder flowers as Hull City come up smelling of roses over Easter weekend


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Callum Elder was the star of the show on Easter Monday as Hull City edged away from the chasing pack in a resounding 3-0 win over strugglers Northampton Town at the KCOM stadium.

In an attempt to build from an encouraging 1-0 win over Shrewsbury on Good Friday, Northampton boss Jon Brady opted for a 3-5-2 formation to frustrate the league leaders. The change in tactics was futile and almost a gross underestimate of the attacking potency that Hull possess from defensive positions.

Given that type of licence and the form that both full-backs have been in over the season, Elder and Lewie Coyle ran riot on the afternoon and were at the heart of Hull’s wave after wave attack’s. They effectively become wingers for the majority of proceedings.

If truth be told, Northampton were fortunate to concede just the three goals in a game City completely dominated from the opening moments. Elder enjoyed a bumper bank holiday weekend, winning his side a decisive penalty at Crewe on Friday only to follow that up with a man of the match performance yesterday afternoon.

The 26-year old Australian took the plaudits with an assist and a superb goal in City’s important win which enabled them to pull further mathematically clear of both Sunderland and Peterborough below them in the race for the League One title.

Whether from set plays or open play, Elder’s left foot has slightly gone under the radar this season but to Northampton’s dismay yesterday afternoon, giving him the freedom of the KCOM brought about devastating effects.

Elder had already swept two delightful balls into the Cobblers box in the opening exchanges that should have had Brady and Co on the sidelines concerned, with both deliveries a whisker away from finding an orange and black shirt.

With the Cobblers happy to sit in and wait for a counter-attacking opportunity, City showed they were in no mood to let get the better of them.

Elder’s tenacity to run the channel presented an option throughout and the quality on the ball topped a memorable afternoon as he grabbed his first goal for the club.

With the game still awaiting the crucial first goal, Keane Lewis-Potter, facing up against a wall of Cobblers defenders, rolled the ball back to Elder on the edge of the area who side-footed the ball into the top corner with missile-like precision.

It was Elder’s first goal since 2015 (coincidentally under Grant McCann’s reign at Peterborough) and on this display, you’d have to question why that’s been such a rarity. It was executed with perfect technique.

Keane Lewis-Potter himself grabbed the crucial second goal before the break with a deflected finish into the bottom corner following good work from Josh Magennis. It was the 20-year old’s 11th goal of the season in another confident performance.

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City’s full-backs were putting on somewhat of a masterclass and whilst both were professional in the limited defending they had to do on the afternoon, their contributions to the City attacking were outstanding and deserved greater reward.

Lewie Coyle’s link-up play with lookalike George Honeyman caused all sorts of confusion along the Cobblers left and he was unlucky not to have inflicted more damage. Some delightful footwork saw him dance past Joseph Mills before his excellent far post cross was headed wide by Josh Magennis when it looked odds on for him to score.

More excellent football saw Coyle drive into the Cobblers box once more and just as he looked to steal a march on his opposite number, he was tripped for a certain looking penalty but referee Bramall waved away the protests much to the dismay of McCann on the touchline.

Elder was unlucky not to have picked up assists in the second half with City failing to connect with two pinpoint corner deliveries. Lewis-Potter also failed to capitalise on an excellent cutback from Elder, having found himself in behind the Northampton backline.

Not content with the 2-0 scoreline in the dying moments, Elder once again ventured forwards from halfway and as he skipped infield from a challenge or two, he split the Cobblers defence with a guided right-footed pass into the run of Gavin Whyte. The Northern Ireland forward had time to round keeper Jonathan Mitchell before rolling the ball into an empty net to seal the victory.

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It was a lovely goal and fitting of Hull’s performance on an afternoon which left Grant McCann purring on the touchline.

“The performance was good and the result was even better. To score three goals and keep a clean sheet was impressive from the boys and I’m pleased with the day as a whole.

“They (Coyle and Elder) started every attack for us, they had acres of space to run into and they have real pace – the Northampton forwards were trying to chase them back but couldn’t catch them.

“All around the field I felt the boys were spot on with what they did. They’ve delivered another calm, controlled and professional performance and it’s three points and on to the next one.”

It was a back to the drawing board performance from Jon Brady’s side as they failed to register a single shot on goal. Although they caught Hull on a bad day, a change in tactics had not gone to plan, he told local press:

“They’re (Hull) a Championship side in waiting with the way they move the ball and everything about them.

“It looks like they’re probably going to take the title. There’s a long way to go but we faced a top-class side today.

“We had to try and stay in the game and manage the game and see if we could get into half-time at 0-0, but unfortunately it wasn’t to be.”

Although City have come unstuck at home during the campaign, fans were treated to one of their best displays of the season and the only disappointment was that they’d not been more clinical in front of goal.  Midfielders Greg Docherty and Regan Slater were hugely influential in recycling the ball throughout proceedings with the pair akin to chocolate crazed kids on Easter Sunday.

They were relentless in their pursuit of the ball and there was no chance that they’d be letting go once in possession. Considering the pair have only recently come together in the starting line up, it was an emphatic display. The Cobblers defence barely had time to catch a breath on a long afternoon and Docherty almost capped another fine display with a rasping 20-yard effort that clipped the top of Jonathan Mitchell’s goal.

To a man, City were excellent all over the park and whilst you can only beat what’s in front of you, the confidence that McCann has instilled in his players to follow the process of concentrating on their own performances, paid dividends once more. For an individual that is still trying to win over the City fanbase, there are no signs of nerves, just calmness and faith which is transmitting onto the pitch.

Whilst there is a given expectation that Hull should rightly be at the top end of the table, executing a plan under a black cloud is no mean feat to navigate. This is a team together and with six games to go, there are no signs of the Tigers relenting.

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