HULL // Stoke secured their Premier League status with a 2-1 victory at the KC Stadium today, leaving Phil Brown's Hull in major trouble, hovering dangerously above the drop zone. Ricardo Fuller's first-half goal and Liam Lawrence's 73rd-minute wonder strike moved Tony Pulis's side on to 42 points, 11 points clear of the bottom three. Andy Dawson pulled a goal back with a brilliant late free kick but Hull's fate was already sealed by then.
Daniel Cousin had the first chance of the game but Stoke keeper Sorensen tipped his header over the bar while Richard Garcia's tame shot was saved easily. Stoke rarely troubled Boaz Myhill at the other end with Matthew Etherington, Liam Lawrence and Fuller shots going off target. Hull were the better team in the first half but they lacked composure in front of goal, which highlighted the reason they have the worst home record in the Premier League. Ironically, Stoke had the worst away record going into this game.
Hull did everything they could to gain a psychological advantage, including moving the advertising hoardings closer to the pitch to deny long throw specialist Rory Delap a chance to get pace on his deliveries. But that didn't stop Lawrence delivering a superb corner to unsettle Hull who failed to stop Fuller from turning and firing past Myhill. City now needed to score two goals to get maximum points, something they had not done for 11 games.
Kevin Kilbane forced a good save from Sorensen immediately after half time as Hull looked for a way back into a game they could ill afford to lose. The clear-cut chances were falling Hull's way with Garcia making Sorensen save his 57th-minute header at full stretch. Glenn Whelan twice came close to putting this game beyond the Tigers. His first effort narrowly went over the bar, his second, in the 64th minute, struck Myhill's post with the keeper beaten.
There was no faulting Hull's commitment but their application when it mattered was sadly missing. Lawrence then delivered the killer blow firing home from 25 yards out with a stunning right-foot shot. Dawson's superb last-minute free kick was a mere consolation. Hull, who were sixth in January, could find themselves in the bottom three for the first time this season if there is a winner in tomorrow night's clash between Newcastle and Middlesbrough.