BY JAKE SANDERS
Shaun Hutchinson’s first goal since March was not enough for Millwall as they slipped to a 2-1 defeat to Hull City in front of the lowest-ever league crowd at the KCOM Stadium.
Just 10,191 fans watched Jarrod Bowen give the Tigers an early lead before Hutchinson levelled just past the half-hour mark. Marc Pugh won it for the hosts with a well-taken goal on 42 minutes.
The defeat was the Lions’ second in the space of four days and leaves them just four points above the Championship relegation zone ahead of the visit of table-toppers Norwich City on Saturday.
Millwall started sluggishly, and just like on Saturday found themselves behind early on. Only eight minutes in Kamil Grosicki got in behind makeshift right-back Ryan Leonard and his cross was cleared, but only as far as Markus Henriksen, whose shot was coolly flicked past Jordan Archer by Bowen from close-range.
Murray Wallace took a knock during the goal and was unable to continue, with club captain Steve Morison taking his place as the Lions quickly diverted back to 4-4-2.
The Tigers came close to doubling their lead through Grosicki, but the Polish midfielder fired narrowly wide of the top-right hand corner with Archer scrambling on 25 minutes.
But seven minutes later, and totally against the run of play, Millwall found a route back into the game. Hull failed to clear Morison’s volleyed cross and the ball fell for Hutchinson, who was left all alone to swivel and slam home.
The Lions were only level for eight minutes, though. Todd Kane crossed from the right and found Pugh, who produced a wonderful touch before slotting past Archer from 12 yards.
Millwall began the second period on the front foot and Lee Gregory was a whisker away from converting Jed Wallace’s right-wing cross and making it 2-2, but he just couldn’t reach.
And the visitors’ dominant start to the half continued, with Wallace at the heart of it again. This time him and Ben Marshall carved out an opening for Ryan Tunnicliffe, but the former Fulham midfielder curled just wide from outside the area.
Tunnicliffe went even closer just a minute later. Leonard’s cross caused chaos in the Hull penalty area before eventually falling for the Lions midfielder, but David Marshall made a stunning one-handed save to deny his left-footed volley from going into the top corner.
Up the other end, Hull came close to a third, but the dangerous Grosicki drove a powerful low shot onto the post before it struck Archer’s back and rolled out for a corner.
Neil Harris threw on both Aiden O’Brien and Tom Elliott in a bid to salvage something from the contest and the latter almost set up the equaliser, but Morison’s back-post effort was blocked by the impressive Marshall. And from the resulting corner Millwall threatened again as Jake Cooper headed goalwards, but Bowen cleared off the line before Marshall collected and Hull survived.
Despite four minutes of added-time, the visitors were unable to find the leveller that their second-half display deserved and the Tigers held on for just their second league victory in seven games.
IMAGES BY BRIAN TONKS