McDonald hat-trick sees Middlesbrough ease past Hull
Hull suffered a major set back in their chase for a play-off place after crashing 4-2 at home to Middlesbrough, with Scott McDonald scoring a first half hat-trick at the KC Stadium. Tigers boss Nigel Pearson was at a loss to explain his side's poor defending.
He said: "I don't think you can legislate for a first half like that. Sometimes you get days like today and it's a massive disappointment because it's a missed opportunity.
"Three wins might not be enough but there are nine points to play for and I won't tolerate anyone sulking.
"It's been an expensive day for us in terms of losing players through injury as well as the result.
"I don't think in the whole 90 minutes they created anything really apart from the goals, and we put those on a plate for them.
"One of our main strengths this season has been our defence. But we didn't just contribute to our own downfall; we were almost responsible for it in its entirety.
"We started the game well and got our noses in front. We were punished heavily for the mistakes we made, but they were uncharacteristic mistakes.
"We had to take chances in the second half and we caused them a few problems.
"I'm not going to be too hard on the players as our defensive qualities have allowed us to be in this position in the league, so it would be unjust to be overly critical.
"I don't say anything to the players as they know themselves. They put in a lot of effort today, but unfortunately we made too many mistakes at crucial times.
"We've got a few problems going into Monday. Liam Rosenior has picked up a medial ligament injury and it could be the end of his season, while Robert Koren's got a hamstring problem and with Vito Mannone it's his shoulder again."
He said: "In the first half we were pretty good. We came with a game plan and it worked pretty well.
"We went forward well and asked a lot of questions of their defenders in the first half, and (Scott) McDonald took his goals exceptionally well.
"It was a good, professional performance that was driven by Tuesday's less than convincing performance.
"The players also read a few comments in the local paper - I think the phrase 'cannon fodder' was used - and that was useful for me in the team talk. If you have professional pride you try to respond to that in the right way.
"It was not ideal to lose a goal so early in the game, but the players reacted well. We had to make some enforced changes in the back four, but after a shaky start we coped well with whatever they threw at us.
"We were disappointed with the second half as there was an opportunity for us to go on and make a real statement to the division.
"Hull dug in and it was their turn to ask questions of our defenders, but we could have scored a couple of goals on the break even though the flow of the game was towards our goal."