Battle of the doomed?

THREE points for Burnley and plenty of bullish rhetoric from both sides, but results elsewhere suggest that both these sides will still be plying their trade in the Championship next season.

Burnley’s victory gives them hope but their approach to the top flight is summed up by the players who scored their goals.

Martin Paterson remains the club’s second biggest purchase at £2.25 million from Scunthorpe, veteran Graham Alexander cost £50,000 from Preston and Wade Elliott, who also scored the play-off winner to take the Clarets into the top flight, was a free from Bournemouth.

They started well but their lack of resources saw them run out of legs and ideas at a crucial time, but even if they are relegated, they will go into the Championship as a decent going concern, ready to go again.

Not so for Hull, who look a disaster waiting to happen... and some would say it is all a matter of geography.

Over in East Yorkshire, Hull’s finances have escaped the sort of analysis and scrutiny that a London club might get but their financial problems, with regular rumours about the possibility of administration, have also been caused by the city’s isolation, having to pay through the nose to drag people along the M62.

The previous regime of Paul Duffen and Phil Brown have saddled the club with the wage bill of a top-half team – reportedly the seventh highest before the turn of the year – on the way to assembling what is a rather pitiful squad.

It is an approach that attracts the likes of Geovanni – €50,000 a week and a long-range effort that looks good on highlights shows once every two or three months.

The whole country loves Jimmy ‘Alwite Jim’ Bullard but if they drop to the Championship, the £5 million signing will have little resale value and, at best, might get a squad role in the lower reaches of the Premier League along with Stephen Hunt but beyond that, who is there? While the likes of Kevin Kilbane are around, they will not give up but Hull’s players have done little to justify the bullish talk of their temporary manager Iain Dowie.

This was the kind of defeat that defines a season, and the timing could not have been any worse, but Dowie is sure he will get a response at Birmingham next week, although after Burnley’s victory, they are the only team without an away win this season.

“We have to show or refresh the belief with an away display at St Andrew’s,” Dowie said. “It won’t happen looking down at your shoes or trying to hide in the corner.

“You have to put your body on the line, be brave and take it on the chin. If people write us off, they do.

“We know the performance we have to put in now to get us a win, we know it is a massive task given the number of wins all season, but it can be done.

“What I want is a display with cojones. I would rather go to Birmingham and be a lion for a day rather than a sheep for the rest of the season.”

When Kilbane scored his first goal for more than two years after two minutes, Burnley, with one win in 22 matches, must have been tempted to head home.

But, for once, they refused to buckle and noticing that Hull were anxious too, started to play a bit and even pulled level through Paterson’s turn and finish.

Alexander, 38, has missed just four penalties in his career and took his tally to 74 successes, with 17 out of 17 for Burnley, with two confident finishes, before Elliott curled in a free kick in injury time.

“There are always nerves. I might look cool on the outside but it’s a good job you can’t see my insides,” Alexander said. “Once a week I practice until I am happy but it could be 10 or it could be 50.

“We have to take what we did into Saturday at Sunderland. If we don’t follow this up in our remaining four games, then this means nothing.”

MATCH RATING: **** – A cracker with Burnley showing character, and quality. Not looking good for either team though.

REFEREE: Martin Atkinson (W Yorkshire) 7 - Spot on with his two penalty shouts.

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