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Lokeren 1-0 Hull City – Elmo plays final ten minutes in first leg defeat
Steve Bruce stuck to his word and made plenty of changes ahead of their Thursday night fixture at Lokeren. Of the side that beat QPR 1-0 in the Premier League at the weekend, only Allan McGregor and match-winner James Chester kept their places. Elsewhere summer signing Harry Maguire was handed a first team debut at the heart of the Tigers defence.
A drab opening half failed to live up to the billing but Hull should have taken the lead as early as the 7th minute but Yannick Sagbo scuffed his effort allowing the Belgium defence to clear.
Republic of Ireland duo David Meyler and Robbie Brady both had chances from distance which were both comfortably gathered by Verhulst in the Lokeren goal. Striker Nill De Pauw struck a volley but McGregor wasn’t troubled by the effort as it sailed over the bar.
Lokeren began the second-half brightly and mustered an early chance however De Pauw’s goalward effort produced a fine full-length save from McGregor.
The home side were gifted the ultimately deciding goal after McGregor passed the ball to Hans Vanaken who rounded the Scottish international before slotting the ball into an empty net. Fresh from taking a slender advantage the Belgium side grew in confidence and looked to further their lead with Dutra and Galistsios both having attempts.
McGregor did begin to atone for his glaring error by clawing De Pauw’s goalbound effort behind for a corner kick to keep Hull in the game.
With time running out Steve Bruce looked to his bench with Nikica Jelavic and Tom Ince coming on in place of Sagbo and Robbie Brady. Substitute Ince nearly made an immediate impact but Verhulst diverted his low shot behind for another Tigers corner, with Maguire sending his header wide from the resulting set-piece.
Egypt’s Elmohamady came on for the final ten minutes of the match in place of George Boyd as Hull looked to gain an important away goal. Sone Aluko, who, on a night when his sister helped England’s women secure a place at the 2015 World Cup, weaved an opening for Meyler but his shot was tipped over the bar.
Hull were left to rue their missed chances and head back to the KC Stadium needing two goals to overturn their Belgium adversaries.
Lokeren: Verhulst – Scholz – Odoi – Maric – Overmeire – Persoons – Galitsios – Remacle – Dutra – Vanaken – De Pauw
Subs: Barry – Mertens – Henrique – Leye – Kaya – Abdurahimi – Ngolok
Hull City: McGregor – Rosenior – Chester – Maguire – McShane – Figueroa – Meyler – Boyd – Brady – Aluko – Sagbo
Subs: Harper – Robertson – Elmohamady – Huddlestone – Livermore – Ince – Jelavic