CAN Derby bounce back from their humbling home defeat to Hull in the Championship play-off semi-final second leg here? Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) takes a look at the odds on offer.
Hull v Derby | Tuesday 19.45 | Sky Sports 2
Hull City are heading to Wembley for the fourth time in eight years after trouncing Derby 3-0 in the first leg of their Championship play-off semi-final at the iPro Stadium on Saturday.
The Tigers are as short as 1/500 (Paddy Power) to qualify for the final now after putting in their best performance of the season during a dominating first fixture. Top-scorer Abel Hernandez got the ball rolling before a Jason Shackell own-goal and second-half stoppage-time strike from Andy Robertson completed the rout.
The Humbersiders now appear in an unassailable position as they bid to return to the Premier League at the first time of asking. So comfortable was the 3-0 success, Steve Bruce joked that even he could have played in goal with first-choice goalkeeper Allan McGregor ruled out on the morning of the match.
Hull’s highly-experienced XI managed the match excellently, riding out Derby’s decent early spell, defending stubbornly whilst showing a shrewd and clinical approach when in possession.
Arguably most impressive, mind, was the Humbersiders energy and physicality in the middle of the park and their willingness to work on the flanks, eliminating Derby’s threat. Having been outnumbered, outmanoeuvred and out-thought by their opponents in both regular season contests, Bruce’s big-game performers came to the party when it mattered most.
Having splashed out £25m this season, the Rams are facing yet another campaign of disappointment and underachievement. Supporters were frustrated with Darren Wassall’s selection and substitutions but County’s failure to fire a shot-on-target until the 81st minute is arguably the most damming statistic of that first leg meeting.
The team left the field to a chorus of boos and with no team at Championship level having recovered from a two-goal first leg deficit in the play-offs, never mind a three-goal margin loss, Wembley does look unreachable for County now.
First-time manager Wassall must now attempt to lift his troops but Derby’s return of three away wins from 12 gives visiting fans little optimism that this tie can be turned around. Without George Thorne’s midfield aggression, the Rams again suffered from a soft underbelly with a careless attitude towards midfield and defensive protection.
The first goal in this reverse fixture could prove pivotal and with Hull having suffered just a solitary loss at the KC Stadium all season – coincidentally to Derby back in November – and likely to field the same XI here, a Tigers opener could have Michael Myers-like consequences for the guests.
Home teams have W14-D5-L11 in second leg play-off matches at this level, including six victories from 10 since 2010/11. With such a commanding advantage in their favour, I’m expecting Hull to complete the job in style as they look to build momentum towards their Bank Holiday weekend trip to Wembley.
Speaking so positively about Hull, I can’t resist the generous 40/17 offering from 888 on the Tigers -1 in the Asian Handicap – should the hosts win by a one-goal margin, we’ll get our cash back. But should the Tigers clinch a two-goal victory or better here, we’ll be making money.
Derby do have menacing firepower worthy of grabbing a goal and their need to attack will naturally leave opportunities for the home side to break forward, hopefully resulting in an entertaining encounter on Humberside.
With that in mind, plus the fact Over 2.5 Goals has proven profitable in eight of the last 10 Championship play-off second legs – with the average goals over those 10 tussles a bulky 3.40 per-game – I’ll also chuck in a Hull win alongside Over 2.5 Goals at a bulbous 14/5 (Betfair).
And finally, I’ll throw two darts at two correct scores – Hull to win 3-0 (22/1 Marathon) and Hull to win 3-1 (19/1 BetVictor) – five of the past 10 Championship second legs have seen either of these scorelines collect and at the odds on offer, they’re well worth a throwaway quid or two for interest.