Hull City manager Mike Phelan lauded the character of captain Michael Dawson after the defender secured the club’s first Premier League victory since August in their dramatic 2-1 comeback against Southampton.
The defender glanced home the winner from a sublime Robert Snodgrass cross just 125 seconds after the Scotland international had cancelled out Charlie Austin’s early penalty to turn Sunday’s game on its head at the KCOM Stadium.
Dawson also produced a crucial block to deny Austin an almost certain equaliser at the death, and Phelan has praised his captain’s performance just a week after his late own goal consigned Hull to defeat against Watford last time out.
“He has had ups and downs, but Michael gives a lot to this football club and the players respond to Michael,” Phelan told reporters after the game.
“He’s a leader. A lot of people crumble at this level [after conceding an own goal], but he didn’t. He rallied the team.”
The result snapped a run of eight league games without a win for the Tigers, while securing Phelan a first victory since he was finally appointed as the club’s permanent manager in mid-October.
And, although the former Manchester United coach admitted he was frustrated with the way his side defended in the first half, he believes his players showed their spirit after the interval.
“Our players believed, from the moment they went out in the second half that if they could get a goal they were in the game,” Phelan added.
“It was important to get a result and, at 1-1, we had one. But then, the second goal just galvanised them even more to get the three points.”
However, Phelan was less upbeat when discussing the fitness of strikers Will Keane and Abel Hernandez, who will both be assessed on Monday after limping out of action in the first half with groin and knee injuries respectively.
Phelan believes that Hernandez could be unavailable for a number of weeks, but revealed that Keane is facing a longer lay-off.