Belfast Telegraph

Irvine boosted by hard-earned point

Under-fire West Brom boss Alan Irvine believes his side's gruelling goalless draw at Hull will provide a timely tonic as the Baggies prepare to head into the busy festive fixture programme.

Graham Dorrans had a first half penalty saved by Tigers goalkeeper Allan McGregor but the visitors managed to end an alarming run of four consecutive defeats.

And Irvine - who also saw McGregor save brilliantly from Craig Gardner's second half free-kick - is convinced the spirit showed by his side indicated better times will soon be around the corner.

Irvine said: "Certainly the lads feel like it was a start and they felt positive about their performance and rightly so.

"They are disappointed they did not get back to winning ways and I am delighted they feel that way but it was great to stop that run of defeats and pleasing to have got the clean sheet."

Irvine made the brave decision to drop Saido Berahino to the bench but said he retained faith in the striker, who has not looked like scoring since his call-up to the full England senior squad exactly a month ago.

Irvine said: "I made the decision to take him out of the firing line to some extent and give him a breather. Hopefully that will be good for him and he will respond. I have got no doubt that his form will return."

A poor game had briefly threatened to spring to life in the ninth minute when Jake Livermore hauled back Victor Anichebe in the box and referee Michael Oliver pointed to the spot.

But Dorrans' penalty miss set the tone for a frustrating afternoon for both sides with Stephen Quinn missing Hull's best chance with a flicked header in the 59th minute in what was a forgettable affair.

The result left Steve Bruce's Tigers in the relegation zone and extended a poor run of just one win in their last 14 Barclays Premier League games.

Even the return of Uruguay striker Abel Hernandez from paternity leave could not help lift the sense of gloom around the KC Stadium

And Bruce was left to bemoan his luck with initial excitement over his transfer window acquisitions slowly ebbing due to a combination of poor form and injury.

Bruce said: "We started the season with Jelavic and Hernandez up front but Jelavic damaged his knee against Arsenal and Hernandez has been back and forwards to Uruguay.

"We have lost (Mohamed) Diame due to injury and (Gaston) Ramirez through suspension. But I am still convinced we have got enough in our squad to be better than we were last season."

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