Bullard silences the boo boys

IT’S not often you’d expect a fair-minded man like Roy Hodgson to come to the defence of boo-boys.

But that’s just what the Fulham boss did after the travelling fans gave former player Jimmy Bullard a hot reception.

Bullard opted to leave Craven Cottage for a longer-term contract with the Tigers, who paid £5 million for his services.

The 31-year-old midfielder’s time on Humberside has been marred by two serious knee injuries, but he recovered in time for the relegation run-in as Hull look to preserve their top-flight status.

Bullard silenced the jeers of the visiting fans with an early penalty before Craig Fagan sealed a 2-0 win three minutes into the second half.

Hodgson said: “You’ve got to remember the Fulham fans loved Jimmy Bullard and they weren’t very happy when he refused to sign a new contract with Fulham and went to Hull for an awful lot more money, so I don’t think I can really criticise them.

“Jimmy knew what he was doing. I don’t think he came up here to better his football, he came up here because there was a lot more money on offer, and that’s what our fans choose to remind him of. I don’t expect Fulham fans to be anything other than disappointed in him.

“But Jimmy had the last laugh because he scored the penalty that got his team the victory so I don’t think he’ll be losing any sleep.”

For Hull boss Iain Dowie it was three points in his first home match and ended a run of five successive defeats.

The victory moved the Tigers level on 27 points with 17th-placed West Ham, having played a game fewer, and Dowie hopes the whole club’s belief has been bolstered by the win.

“One swallow doesn’t make a summer but it certainly gives us a fighting chance with West Ham getting beaten,” he said. “We’ve just got to take care of our business. The most important thing was the result but the manner of the performance gives me added confidence.”

Dowie also paid tribute to the Hull fans, saying: “Every time I’ve been here, it’s a special atmosphere. The people of East Yorkshire are passionate about their football, they’re passionate about their sport, they want people to show desire and hunger. And when we pressed them in the first half, the noise in the stadium was magnificent. They got a display they deserve.”

Hodgson is no stranger to relegation battles having kept Fulham up on the final day of the season in 2008. They have since gone from strength to strength, finishing seventh last term, and on Thursday they will take on Wolfsburg in the Europa League quarter-finals.

It is also familiar territory for Hull after their narrow escape last season, and Hodgson would not be surprised to see the Tigers in the Premier League again next season.

“They have a very aggressive style of play, they have some very strong players in the team, the two centre-backs, the forwards are very strong at holding the ball up, so I think the way they play will cause many teams problems,” he added.

“If they continue to show the same fighting spirit, determination, the will to win and the will to hold on to leads, then they’ll get points and there’s no reason why they can’t stay up just in the same way as we did.”

MATCH RATING: *** – Good stuff from Hull and a welcome win for new boss Iain Dowie, but Fulham’s away form is woeful.

REFEREE: Chris Foy (Merseyside) 6 – Ran the game reasonably well but six yellow cards seemed over the top.

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