Hull 1 West Ham 0
Robbie Brady’s fourth goal of the season handed Hull a deserved victory over West Ham as Steve Bruce’s side made it back-to-back wins in the Barclays Premier League.
Brady, who is fast becoming the breakout star of the Tigers’ campaign, won and converted a penalty in the 12th minute at the KC Stadium and that proved enough for Jake Livermore almost made the game safe in the second half when his shot beat Jussi Jaaskelainen but clattered the foot of the post as the hosts settled for 1-0.
West Ham had a penalty appeal for handball against Liam Rosenior waved away and also saw Ahmed Elmohamady block James Tomkins’ header on the line, but were equally undone by a chronic lack of cutting edge up front.
The combined efforts of Modibo Maiga and Mladen Petric in attack saw the injured Andy Carroll’s stock rise exponentially such was their toothlessness.
For Steve Bruce’s schedule, with Tom Huddlestone impressing again in the centre of the park and strong showings from Brady and Elmohamady.
Abdoulaye Faye, making his first appearance of the season for the injured James Chester, was also in reassuring form against the side who let him go upon their own promotion to the Premier League.
West Ham were almost gifted an early opening when Rosenior’s weak back pass needed swift attention from goalkeeper Allan McGregor, but otherwise started comfortably.
Rosenior and Elmohamady, pushed into midfield for the first time this season, were looking good down the right and after a couple of forays West Ham cracked.
Elmohamady floated a cross from wide right in the direction of Brady, who was felled unnecessarily by Joey O’Brien.
After a moment’s consideration referee Kevin Friend pointed to the spot and Brady gathered himself before sending Jaaskelainen the wrong way.
The Hammers were playing a more direct game than #to inspire confidence.
His first sight of goal came after a strong run through the middle but he shot far too early to worry McGregor.
West Ham were close to levelling from a 23rd-minute corner though, Tomkins getting on the end of a Matt Jarvis corner only to see his header chested off the line by Elmohamady.
It was close enough for goal-line technology to be a real benefit and it showed only a fraction of the ball had crossed.
West Ham’s breaks were becoming more frequent, Faye robbing Maiga at the last minute and Mohamed Diame producing an air-shot from 12 yards following Jarvis’ pinpoint cut-back.
But Sone Aluko’s 34th-minute free-kick needed an athletic save, then a pair of Brady corners had West Ham begging for the whistle.
Curtis Davies met the first, with Maiga deflecting the effort up and on to the top of the crossbar.
Brady found Elmohamady with the follow-up and his header was well saved by Jaaskelainen at the near post.
The break did not obviously improve things for the visitors, with a linesman’s flag the only thing denying Aluko just two minutes after the restart.
West Ham responded by attacking the home box with a handful of long balls, but Faye and Davies were coping well with the aerial examination.
Maiga’s afternoon was cut short just before the hour mark when Sam Allardyce sent on Petric but position.
He had a good chance to work the keeper in the 62nd minute when Brady’s free-kick was touched towards him at the far post, but his off-balance shot was wayward.
The game was beginning to open up and when Graham held up the ball before teeing up the advancing Livermore a second goal seemed on.
The Spurs loanee took a touch before releasing a measured shot only to see it crash back off the base of the post.
Stewart Downing and Ricardo Vaz Te were given 20 minutes to change the game for West Ham, with Yannick Sagbo offered marginally less as Graham’s replacement.
The Hammers were convinced they had a penalty in the 75th minute, with fervent appeals for a Rosenior handball, but they went in vain.
West Ham went forward with plenty of urgency in the closing minutes but with no final product.