Hull 1-0 Sheffield United: Nouha Dicko strike eases Tigers' relegation fears
By Ben Grounds
Last Updated: 24/02/18 7:56am
Hull City moved three points clear of the relegation zone as Nouha Dicko's 55th-minute winner was enough to seal a 1-0 win over promotion hopefuls Sheffield United at the KCOM Stadium.
Played against the backdrop of fan protests, Nigel Adkins secured victory against his former side thanks to Dicko's seventh goal of the season, a composed finish following good work from Jackson Irvine.
Dicko became the first Hull striker to score in open play since December, but it was the manner in which United were limited to very few clear-cut opportunities that will have pleased Adkins most.
The Blades, who came closest to scoring through Billy Sharp three minutes before Dicko's winner, missed the chance to move into the play-off spots and remain in seventh place while Hull are up to 20th spot.
Hull: McGregor (6), Aina (6), Clark (6), Dawson (7), MacDonald (6), Larsson (7), Irvine (7), Bowen (7), Diomande (6), Evandro (7), Dicko (8).
Subs: Grosicki (6), Campbell (6), Stewart (n/a).
Sheffield United: Blackman (6), Baldock (6), Stearman (6), O'Connell (6), Basham (6), Stevens (6), Fleck (5), Leonard (6), Evans (5), Clarke (5), Sharp (6).
Subs: Duffy (6), Lundstram (6), Donaldson (n/a).
Man of the match: Nouha Dicko
The hosts made the brighter start and should have been in front when Richard Stearman's poor headed clearance went straight to Evandro, but the Brazilian's shot was saved by the legs of Jamal Blackman.
Sebastian Larsson then very nearly caught out Blackman with a disguised free-kick only for the Swede's shot from 25 yards out to bounce just wide, before the match was delayed for two minutes as home fans protested against the club's owners by throwing yellow tennis balls onto the pitch.
The delay seemed to benefit the visitors, as John Fleck latched onto Leon Clarke's cut-back to fire a yard wide of the post a minute before the break.
Max Clark, Seb Larsson, Adama Diomande, Jarrod Bowen and Nouha Dicko all returned in five changes for Hull. Sheffield United made two changes for the visitors from their midweek victory over QPR. Ryan Leonard and John Fleck returned.
But Blades manager Chris Wilder will have been disappointed by his side's overall performance, and the visitors began the second brightly as after Angus MacDonald had failed to deal with a long ball forward, Sharp was denied by the legs of Allan McGregor after 52 minutes.
The miss proved costly, as just three minutes later, Jarrod Bowen and Irvine combined well inside the Sheffield United box to find Dicko who made no mistake with a neat lofted finish from eight yards.
Adam Diomande and Kamil Grosicki both had chances to stretch the lead before Richard Stearman went down inside the penalty box after a clumsy challenge from Ola Aina but referee Simon Hooper waved away the protests as Hull clung on for three vital points.
Man of the match: Nouha Dicko
Dicko earned his goal with a performance full of commitment that manager Adkins said will do him "the world of good". In a game low on clear-cut chances, the 25-year-old took his confidently after good work from Jackson Irvine.
The Frenchman held the ball up well for his side and came close to breaking the deadlock before he did so with a powerful shot saved by Jamal Blackman.
Nigel Adkins: "I'm pleased for the players as it's another good performance they've put in. That's seven unbeaten at home, and in every game since I've been here they've put in a good shift.
"They've grafted and put in a clean sheet which is important and we've scored a goal which is particularly pleasing as our conversion rate hasn't been there.
Chris Wilder: "The opposition fully deserved the result as they showed more desire and determination, which is particularly hard for me to take given the position we're in.
"It's possibly one of the worst performances from us this season. I'll stop pretending that we can get into the top six. I won't waste my energy thinking we're a decent side. We'll just see if we can pick up some results between now and the end of the season."
Hull will look to build on the victory in the Championship when they host Barnsley on Tuesday night. Sheffield United travel to face Reading at the Madejski Stadium on the same evening.