Ross Barkleys late header earned Everton a 2-2 draw at Hull City after Robert Snodgrasss stunning free-kick seemed to have earned the home side a desperately needed win
Hulls formal coronation as the UKs City of Culture for 2017 takes place on Sunday as the hangovers wear off. On this evidence Robert Snodgrasss left foot should be among the primary exhibits.
For the threadbare hopes of its football clubs top-flight future appear to hang on the Scotland internationals use of it. Snodgrass has now converted or created exactly half of Hulls 16 Premier League goals, and for 20 minutes his sixth of the season, an exquisite free-kick, threatened to atone for his compatriot David Marshalls first-half howler.
That it did not and that Hull sit one point off the bottom rather than three is down to another recurring theme: an inability to turn good performances into wins. Having handed Ronald Koemans team one equaliser on the stroke of half-time, via Marshalls sliced punch into his own net, they conceded a second to the recalled Ross Barkleys late header.
Hull, refusing to be deflated by the final 20 minutes of their defeat on the same turf by Manchester City on Boxing Day, started adventurously and took a sixth-minute lead through their second-top scorer, the central defender Michael Dawson. Like Snodgrasss it was a quality finish.
Neither did Mike Phelans team lack spirit. We are off the bottom of the league, Phelan enthused. At times this season things havent gone our way but the players are all putting a real shift in. They are listening, learning and have everything to look forward to, which is progress up this league. We have a real battle on our hands in the second half of the season but I think were up for it.
Phelan spoke in the build-up to this contest of the need to reinforce his squad with players courageous enough for the fight ahead. Yet it is the grossest of understatements to say that Hull is an even harder sell now than when he did his last recruitment pitch in August on the back of wins from both their opening fixtures.
Nor have his set of summer transfer window purchases proved a raging success. Ryan Mason, the clubs 12.5m record signing from Tottenham, went missing in a relegation duel at Middlesbrough in the first week of December and has not been spotted in a starting XI since; neither has Markus Henriksen, whose permanent 3.5m move from AZ Alkmaar is to be ratified next week; Dieumerci Mbokani has been praised for his hold-up play but is yet to score in 10 appearances since returning to the English top flight.
Two former Manchester United trainees Will Keane and Mike Weir have proved peripheral. The Scotland goalkeeper Marshall, a moderate success, has shipped an average of 2.42 goals a game, and showed himself prone to panicking under pressure soon after Dawsons finish from a flicked-on Snodgrass corner had put Hull ahead.