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BOSTOCK STICKS HIS CLAWS INTO SWANSEA.

Byline: Wathan

BRENDAN Rodgers' reign began in defeat as Hull went from the sublime to the ridiculous to sink the Swans. The new Swansea boss could only look on as a goal of sheer brilliance from John Bostock put the Tigers in control at the KC Stadium.

And he was then left helpless as Dorus de Vries fluffed a corner claim to allow Ian Ashbee a soft but game-securing second.

The double blow proved too much for his new charges to turn around, meaning it's now five years since Swansea have triumphed on the opening weekend.

And having suffered at the hands of Leicester City this time last season, it makes it two years on the trot that a Nigel Pearson side has dented Swansea's pre-season optimism.

Yet there were reasons to be hopeful for the future under Rodgers despite the result - even if the old story of not taking chances returned once more.

David Cotterill hit the bar and Darren Pratley spurned a golden opportunity to hurt Hull in the opening 45 minutes.

But the damage had already been done by Spurs loan star Bostock - a player Rodgers was thought to be keen to land - when he left Jordi Lopez for dead with a terrific turn before unleashing an unstoppable effort from distance past Dorus de Vries.

If Swansea fans could do little but applaud that effort, they would have been shaking their heads when Ashbee made the most of sloppiness at the set-piece five minutes after the break.

It wasn't the only sloppy thing about Swansea.

The lack of sharpness derived from this summer's upheaval was evident in passes and touches throughout the match.

But the positives were there, especially the bodies in the box that Rodgers has promised, with wingers Nathan Dyer and David Cotterill allowed to attack.

With Scott Sinclair thought to be arriving this week, Rodgers is keen to add to his ammunition, aware he needs penetration to go with the possession. But given the fact Swansea were in control before the impressive and exciting Bostock struck his bolt from the blue, the former Watford and Reading chief will not be too disheartened.

Sure, it took a while for Swansea to get their foot on the ball and begin to get comfortable as Hull started with the kind of energy and excitement you'd expect from a side at home on opening day.

But, biding their time, the openings began to appear in a Tigers team that wasn't too sure of itself when Swansea passed and pressed in the final third.

It took Mark Gower to register the first shot of note, drifting wide from his central midfield role before cutting in and firing just wide of Matt Duke's upright with 13 minutes on the clock.

Gower was part of the now accustomed trio in the middle of the park for Swansea, Rodgers true to his word and sticking with the system of recent years, albeit with Cotterill and Dyer pushed on far higher.

And Pratley quickly got into his old stride, pushing on and trying his best to support Stephen Dobbie in attack.

At the base, though, Lopez really did have his hands full with Bostock, the youngster showing his threat 17 minutes in as he made the most of a quick counter and whizzed a shot past Swansea's post.

Swansea, though, were on top, showing some lovely instinctive and intricate touches to really trouble the Tigers, who were a bit too quick to dive in.

If they seemed to get away with it slightly, thanks to some loose refereeing from Mike Russell, there was no such luck for Nolberto Solano, who stuck out a leg to stop Pratley's 20th minute run on goal.

And he was so nearly punished when Cotterill struck the resulting 25-yard set-piece against the crossbar.

But, just three minutes later, the good work was undone by Bostock's long-range beauty that will surely get a repeat or seven during this week's television coverage.

It shocked the Swans and Hull sensed it. Anthony Gardner was given too much room to meet a Richard Garcia corner soon after, the former Spurs centre-back heading over.

Swansea still looked to create and should have levelled on 28 minutes, when Gower attacked the flank and crossed for the unmarked Pratley.

But the midfielder chose to try and glance a header past Duke when he had all the time to try a shot - and the chance went begging.

Hull, well organised as you would expect from a Pearson side, were doing well to stop Dobbie getting much space, with the Scot getting more and more frustrated as time wore on - although he did force Duke into a save just before half-time after good work from Cotterill.

Pratley did his best to free the Scot with some clever balls around the back of the Hull defence, while the wide players worked hard to get themselves into the game.

And Dyer came close to providing the breakthrough three minutes after the restart when he fed off Albert Serran's ball and drilled a centre, the ball squeezing just behind the on-rushing Pratley. But soon after it all unravelled as the usually excellent de Vries flapped to meet Garcia's corner.

Kamil Zayatte headed back from the far post and Ashbee took advantage of the mess to make it two.

Swansea again took their time to recover but still pushed, Zayatte having to clear his lines when Cotterill's deep cross missed Duke and found Pratley.

Ashbee was needed to save his keeper's skin when Dyer rounded Dawson to cause problems in the Hull area before subs Shefki Kuqi and Gorka Pintado threw themselves into the challenge as Rodgers went for two up top.

But, with Garry Monk needing a last-ditch tackle to stop a Hull third late on, a beautiful strike and an ugly poke had already sewn up the game for the hosts.

Dorus de Vries No chance of stopping first, has to hold hands up for role in second. You'd expect better from the Dutchman.

6 Albert Serran Settled into the game after a shaky start as a late replacement for Angel Rangel. Coped well in air, but pulled out of position too often and suffered against Kilbane. 6 Garry Monk (capt) Good, solid stuff from the captain. Some important challenges and kept Garcia in check before goal-saving interception at death.

7 Ashley Williams Not only was he the best defender on the pitch, arguably the best midfielder too the amount of times he carried the ball forward.

7 Alan Tate Happy to press forward and kept probing until the end. Nothing spectacular, but made sure wingers didn''t get any change from him.

6 Jordi Lopez Didn't do enough at the base of the midfield. Some neat touches on front foot, but too slow in distribution and suspect defensively.

6 Mark Gower Looked decent enough in central role and twice found himself breaking free of his marker to test the Tigers. Made way for Orlandi as Swans chased game. 6 Darren Pratley Faded badly after the break, having started in usual high-energy fashion. Really should have scored with first-half chance.

6 David Cotterill MIXED bag from Cotterill. Hit the bar in first half and troubled full-back, but couldn''t really create enough to trouble the Tigers rearguard.

6 Nathan Dyer Frustrating stuff from Dyer as he displayed sloppy control and touch as often as he skinned marker and caused panic.

6 Stephen Dobbie Looked lively early on, but was quickly closed down whenever in possession and frustration got better of him. Made way as Swans went for two up top. 6 SUBSTITUTES: Andrea Orlandi (for Gower, 59), Shefki Kuqi (for Dobbie, 59), Gorka Pintado (for Lopez, 72) Subs not used: D Cornell, G Pintado, N Taylor, C van der Gun REFEREE: Mick Russell (Herts) ATTENDANCE: 21,478 SCORERS: Hull - Bostock 23, Ashbee 50 BOOKINGS: Hull - Solano 21, Bostock 23 HULL CITY: M Duke; N Solano, K Zayatte, A Gardner, A Dawson; W Atkinson (J Devitt, 70), I Ashbee (c), T Cairney, J Bostock (N Barmby, 83), K Kilbane; R Garcia (M Cullen, 77). Subs not used: M Oxley, P McShane, S Olofinjana, D Cousin

CAPTION(S):

FEET FIRST: Swansea's Andrea Orlandi tangles with John Bostock NO WAY THROUGH: Swansea's David Cotterill finds his path blocked by Hull defender Ian Ashbee PICTURE: HUW EVANS AGENCY
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Aug 8, 2010
Words:1393
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