Kevin Stewart a changed man and no spot for Matthew Connolly – what we learned from Hull City win over Sheffield Wednesday

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Kevin Stewart a changed man and no spot for Matthew Connolly – what we learned from Hull City win over Sheffield Wednesday

Hull City picked up a sixth straight league victory with a 3-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday.

Top scorer Jarrod Bowen bagged two goals either side of the break to put City into a deserved lead before Fraizer Campbell, fresh off the bench, added a third to wrap up another three-point haul.

Here’s what we learned.

Kevin Stewart a changed man

If there is one man that sums up Hull City’s transformation of late to climb the table it is Kevin Stewart.

The midfielder was low on confidence, struggling for form and out of the side in October, but, buoyed by the success of the side around him, Stewart is now undroppable.

Perhaps the £4million price tag initially got the better of Stewart when making the move from Liverpool, but finally he is justifying such an outlay and his performance on Saturday was arguably his best yet in a City shirt.

With a tenacious work rate, Stewart bullied the Owls’ midfield to prevent playmaker Barry Bannan from being able to pull the strings and his flawless, dogged display infectiously set the tone for another statement-making victory.

While Dan Batty can perhaps feel hard done by to find himself out of the team at present, Stewart’s form of late ensures the academy product could be waiting a while for another chance.

A captain’s performance

City fans may have been sceptical at the start of the season when it was announced Markus Henriksen had been appointed club captain.

The midfielder had struggled to win over the City crowd in the opening two seasons and struggled for consistency, but with the armband proudly on display he has grown to become the skipper fans had been craving.

Henriksen put in another fierce performance against the Owls and ran himself into the ground to ensure Wednesday never had a moment’s peace on the ball.

Markus Henriksen of Hull City plays the ball against Sheffield Wednesday
Markus Henriksen of Hull City plays the ball against Sheffield Wednesday

He ought have found the net in the first half, only to be denied by a fine save from Keiren Westwood, but time and again he came up with the ball before attempting to make things happen. The skipper consistently leads by example and he did so again on Saturday.

A fresh start for Milinkovic

When the winger was removed from the teamsheet against Norwich City in November after turning up late for the game, many assumed David Milinkovic’s time at the club was over.

Poor timekeeping ensured his time in the wilderness stretched to four months before he was finally given a chance to redeem himself, starting in the FA Cup loss to Millwall on Sunday.

David Milinkovic of Hull City
David Milinkovic of Hull City

It seems the Frenchman did enough to impress Adkins at The Den and Saturday saw Milinkovic on the bench for the first time in a league game since the 3-2 win over Rotherham United in August and he even got on the field for a brief cameo at the end.

The head coach is known to be looking to sign a winger in the January transfer window in order to provide strength in depth but Milinkovic  will be keen dissuade Adkins after being given a fresh start.

No spot for Connolly

The Tigers are close to the signing of Cardiff City’s Matthew Connolly on loan for the rest of the season and the 31-year-old is expected to undergo a medical on Monday before completing the switch as Adkins chases experience at the back.

However, it seems the centre-back will be forced to settle for a spot on the bench for the time being.

The Tigers had feared what impact losing Tommy Elphick would have on the team, but so far since the experienced defender was recalled by Aston Villa at the end of December, City have not conceded a single league goal.

Jordy de Wijs of Hull City brings the ball forward
Jordy de Wijs of Hull City brings the ball forward

Jordy de Wijs and Reece Burke have excelled at the back for the Tigers and three clean sheets have been kept in a row. Neither deserve to be dropped in order to make way for Connolly, should he finalise his deal as expected.

Dare to dream

City’s turnaround is hard to fathom. Just seven weeks ago the Tigers were sitting 23rd in the division and after falling to defeat against Nottingham Forest, fans were fearing the worst.

However, seven wins and two draws later it seems Nigel Adkins’ side are in a very different sort of fight now. Their run of form has taken the club into the top half of the table for the first time in 16 months and four points off the Championship play-offs.

A lot of work is still to be done until City ought to be considered genuine promotion challengers, but teams who win six successive games in any division deserve to be taken notice of.

Next week’s trip to Aston Villa promises to be tricky, but City fans deserve the chance to dream and in thrashing Sheffield Wednesday at the KCOM the club underlined their credentials once more.

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