Soccer

Hull ease to 3-1 win at Stoke to climb into Championship play-off places

Aaron Connolly, centre, set Hull on their way (Richard Sellers/PA)
Aaron Connolly, centre, set Hull on their way (Richard Sellers/PA) Aaron Connolly, centre, set Hull on their way (Richard Sellers/PA)

Hull extended their unbeaten run to seven league games with a comfortable 3-1 victory at Stoke.

The Tigers leapt back into the play-off places thanks mainly to a quickfire double after the half-hour mark.

Aaron Connolly opened the scoring with his fifth goal of the season after good work from former Potters loanee Jaden Philogene.

And the shell-shocked hosts fell further behind a matter of seconds after the restart when Adama Traore notched his first goal since April.

Regan Slater’s shot led to a Lynden Gooch own goal in the second half as Hull coasted towards a third successive Championship away victory for the first time since April 2013.

Stoke notched a late consolation through the returning Andre Vidigal, but he could not prevent their winless run stretching to five league games.

The tone for the home side was set inside 13 minutes as Tyrese Campbell limped off to add to the Potters’ injury woes.

Despite their early setback, the first clear chance fell to Stoke but Daniel Johnson dragged his effort wide in what would prove to be a costly miss.

At the opposite end, Philogene – who spent six months in the Potteries in 2022 – overpowered Ben Wilmot to tee up Connolly for a simple finish as Hull took the lead.

And the bright Connolly was instrumental as the Tigers raced to double their advantage almost immediately after the restart.

The Republic of Ireland forward advanced dangerously from goalkeeper Ryan Allsop’s long pass and his blocked strike popped up invitingly for Traore, who drilled a first-time effort on the swivel into the corner.

Vidigal, who had missed a month through injury, tried to rouse a comeback with his free-kick forcing a stop from Allsop.

Yet Stoke nearly fell further behind in a calamitous first half when a downward Connolly header was cleared off the line by an alert Johnson.

Sead Haksabanovic, like Vidigal minutes earlier, came close to halving the hosts’ arrears from a free-kick but again Allsop was on hand to save.

And it was a similar story after the interval with the Hull stopper twice thwarting Wesley, with the second a miraculous instinct save from point-blank range.

The visitors took advantage and soon added a third with a long-range Slater strike deflecting off Gooch and looping over a helpless Mark Travers.

The Potters’ shining light Vidigal then offered his side a lifeline as he marked his return with a fifth goal of the season.

After skipping beyond the challenge of Jacob Greaves, the Portuguese forward finished accurately low into Allsop’s far corner, but it was too little, too late.

Stoke searched desperately for a late reprieve, but Hull held on for a first league victory in the Potteries since January 2006.