Fine Display From The Under 23's
By Melvyn Utley
The season kicked off with a win against Colchester.
Hull City's Under-23s began their Professional Development League campaign with a deserved 2-0 victory over Colchester United on Sunday afternoon.
Jon Beale's Development Squad struck in both halves – with Tyler Hamilton and Callum Smith on the scoresheet – to claim all three points at the KCOM Stadium. Hamilton opened the scoring on the half-hour mark with a fine effort from outside the box after neat link-up play with Elliot Holmes and Smith - on his first competitive appearance in black and amber - rounded off the night with another well-taken strike to seal all three points.
It wasn't all the way of the Tigers, though, as Colchester dominated the early stages of play. However, it was the home side who came closet to breaking the deadlock in the opening exchanges when Keane Lewis-Potter was denied by Bailey Vose at the near post.
The visitors' first real effort on goal came from Ryan Clampin on 23 minutes, who let fly with a powerful strike following a positive forward run down the left, which was beaten away by hands of George Long.
It proved to be a vital save as the Tigers broke the deadlock just six minutes later when Hamilton's surging forward run through the middle ended with the winger producing a terrific finish into the bottom corner.
Colchester had the ball in the Tigers’ net after 36 minutes after a good piece of skill from Eoin McKeown, only for the goal to be disallowed and it was Hamilton’s first-half strike which separated the two sides at the break.
Both sides made a change at the interval with Billy Chadwick replacing Max Sheaf in midfield for the Tigers, whilst the visitors brought on Paul Rooney in place of Ryan Clampin.
Colchester had the first big chance of the second half, as Callum Jones’ pressuring led to a defensive mix up between Long and Josh Thacker, but after the keeper spilt the ball inside the box, Jones could direct his effort well wide.
Another opportunity to find an equaliser came the Us' way on the hour mark when Eoin McKeown found himself some space in the box. Long was alert, however, and dismissed the danger with an impressive reaction save to keep the Tigers' lead intact.
Beale brought on Ahmed Salam on 62 minutes, and just moments later the visitors should have been level. Tariq Issa's superb cross picked out McKeown in the middle, but he could only fire over from close-range with the goal at his mercy.
The Tigers responded well with two chances in quick successions - both falling to hard-working Lewis-Potter - with the diminutive front-man heading over from Matty Jacob's left-wing cross before impressive movement inside the box saw him connect with Chadwick's low centre only for the end result to be the same.
Beale's side were finally rewarded with a decisive second goal 15 minutes from time. Holmes found Salam out on the left and when the ball dropped kindly for Lewis-Potter, he kept a calm head under pressure to pick out Smith and the debutant did the rest with a wonderful curling finish that gave Vose no chance whatsoever.
Tom Powell came off the bench to replace Elliot Holmes 11 minutes from time in what proved to be a quiet final period of the game. The home side did create one final opportunity when skipper Jordan Hickey intelligently pulled the ball back to Salam, but the substitute was unlucky to see his goal-bound effort superbly blocked by George Brown.
It mattered not though as Beale's youngsters clinched the three points to make the perfect start to their 2018/19 campaign.
Reflecting on the two key moments in the game, Beale said: "It wasn't the prettiest of games to tell you the truth, but we've started the season on a positive note, picking up three points and a clean sheet, along with scoring two excellent goals.
"Tyler did really well for the first goal, starting and finishing off the move himself. He drove at the Colchester defence with real pace to put them on the back foot before linking up nicely with Elliot Holmes.
"He still had plenty to do when he got the ball back but he showed fantastic composure to create the space for a shot and then found the bottom corner with a superb effort from just outside the box, which was great to see.
"And the build-up to the second goal was very good as well. We moved the ball quickly, broke the line early and had people arriving in the box at the right time.
"We were maybe a little fortunate in the way the ball eventually dropped to Keane Lewis-Potter inside the box, but he showed a really cool head to take a touch before finding Callum in space, who then produced another wonderful finish to find the back of the net.
"To be fair to Callum, he does that on a consistent basis in training and as soon as it left his foot, we knew it was heading into the back of the net. That sealed the win for us and obviously, we were pleased to kick-off the new season on a winning note."
Beale was also quick to thank the Hull City fans that turned up to support his young team at the KCOM, adding: "The support the fans show the team is always appreciated. It's nice to have people inside the ground to get behind the boys. I know the boys appreciate it as well, so I'd just like to say a big thank you to everyone who attended the game."
Hull City: Long, Taylor, Jacob, Hickey, Thacker, Greaves, Hamilton (Salam 60), Sheaf (Chadwick 46), Lewis-Potter, Holmes (Powell 79), Smith.
Subs Not Used: Foulkes, Adamson.