Hull City 0-1 Blackpool: Player Ratings
Hull City 0-1 Blackpool: Player Ratings avatar

August 6th, 2011 by Andy Beill | No Comments | Filed in Featured Posts, Reports, The Terrace

Peter Gulacsi (5) His kicking was poor. When it was accurate, it was aimed at the wrong target. Also came flapping at a cross that very nearly ended up in the net. Couldnt have done anything about the goal.

Liam Rosenior (7) Showed his willingness and ability to take players on including one great disguised knock past his opponent until taking a knock.

Joe Dudgeon (7) Solid in the tackle, punched above his weight in the air, and a useful support to attacks down the left. Seems in tandem with Brady.

Jack Hobbs (6) Made a good block to a shot, as he did many times last season.

James Chester (6)

Robert Koren (6) Some intricate moments in the first half but quiet in the second, having switched to the left.

Robert Brady (8) Terrorises his opponents, capable of beating his man in any situation, and has end product to go with it. His race down the right and low cross in front of goal was one of the matchs attacking highlights and his tackle at the start of the second half was a defensive highlight.

Paul McKenna (6) Played a good through ball for Fryatt and got in a good position himself. Struggled to command the centre of the park though faced with Blackpools three in midfield.

Tom Cairney (7) Started the match very well showing his great touch, linking up well with his fellow attackers, and of course having a great shot with the free kick. I hope theres the patience for him to fulfil his potential, and this year we have other players to come in when the heat needs to come off him or when situations call for the jobs Cairney isnt made for.

Matty Fryatt (6) Hes getting in the right positions and gambling to get there, but his shooting let him down.

Dele Adebola (7) Links up well with his teammates and gives them the opportunities. Has a better touch than most would expect and hopefully our players will continue to play to his feet instead of in the air.

Subs

Nick Barmby (6) Unlucky with a couple of chances that just evaded him but he should have scored from the rebound to Fryatts blocked shot.

Jay Simpson (6) Fashioned a chance for himself and curled a good shot just the wrong side of the post, but the one-on-one in stoppage time should be his bread and butter.

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City Impress But Blackpool Prove Championship Is Tough
City Impress But Blackpool Prove Championship Is Tough avatar

August 6th, 2011 by Andy Beill | No Comments | Filed in Featured Posts, Reports, The Terrace

I was impressed by Citys style of play last night. We kept the ball down and played it around neatly. At times it was given away sloppily but this was the first game of the season and should only improve. Blackpool were the same.

When it had been worked forwards, we had the flair to try making something happen. Cairney showed his twinkle-toes a couple of times. Brady has a bag full of tricks. Rosenior and Dudgeon offer great support. Even McKenna was involved in two great chances, playing a great through ball for Fryatt and making a run from deep himself before going over on the edge of the box.

As for the front two, its a combination you can see getting goals. Adebola does a very useful job and hopefully shut up a few people who assumed hes just there for the ball to hit his head: hes got feet as well. He played a great pass to put through Fryatt, wrongly flagged offside, and also laid it off on the edge of the box whilst shielding defenders from Fryatt who couldnt quite time his shot right.

Fryatt was frustrating but that showed he was in the game and gambling to make a chance for himself. Thats often going to result in going offside or moves breaking down, but it only needs to come off once to become a goal. Or at least it should. Fryatt was through on goal twice in the second half but both times didnt show his usual ruthlessness. He doesnt need to change what hes doing, he just needs not to think and do what usually comes naturally.

Regarding the substitutes, Barmby should have done better with the rebound to one of those two Fryatt chances, but he was unlucky a couple of times that chances just evaded him. Simpson didnt have long but shouldnt have needed more than the one clear chance he did have, when his one-on-one in injury time found the South Stand seats instead of the back of the net. Early season rustiness maybe, but that lasted much too long last year. He might not get so much time to find his feet this season.

And it was ever thus that when you repeatedly fail to take your chances, the opposition takes theirs. Certainly no rustiness to Gary Taylor-Fletcher whose finish was perfect, the one moment of great technique in front of goal winning the game. He told the Sky Sports reporter after the game that hed been the target of some nasty comments although what anyone could think to come up with about the 19-year-old Gary Fletchers first five league appearances in 2001 is beyond me and he was glad to retort with that goal. We could have no answer to that.

There was a lot about the performance to convince that were going in the right direction. However, this division has too many strong teams in it Blackpool included to afford many slip-ups. If we aspire to be in the top six, well need to get in the race early on because the late charge we went on last season will be harder to do this time.

Macclesfield on Tuesday will be a good chance for Fryatt and Simpson to banish those misses from their memories and get their accounts open, so that if chances are harder to come by at Ipswich and Leeds, theyll be ready to take them.

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Hull City 0 Blackpool 1: Rick Skeltons report
Hull City 0 Blackpool 1: Rick Skelton?s report avatar

August 5th, 2011 by Rick Skelton | 1 Comment | Filed in Featured Posts, Reports, The Terrace

One hour and fifty-five minutes. That???s how long it took for me to be sick of football. At least cricket and tennis don???t leave you feeling sick. It wasn???t a pretty performance by Hull City, in fact some of it was downright awful, but I still left the KC wondering how the hell we managed to lose.

Line-up: Gulacsi; Rosenior, Dudgeon, Chester, Hobbs ??; Koren, Brady, McKenna, Cairney; Adebola, Fryatt.

After a breathless opening ten minutes, the game settled into a pattern. High on endeavour, low on quality. City looking more likely to threaten but Blackpool taking a stranglehold on the midfield and making their extra man count. We pressed them and they gave up possession easily. Grandin was awful, he was most guilty, but their full-back???s and Keith Southern looked like ???Olly??? had told them that anyone could pass like Charlie Adam and that they should give it a go. So we were given the ball time and time again. We kept giving it back. Nigel Pearson will be missing clumps of hair tomorrow, I???m sure. They kept coughing up possession and we just handed it back.

I didn???t agree with the midfield selection. This isn???t hindsight, I twittered before the game. In my opinion, it should have been Evans in the middle with McKenna. I can understand the thinking behind Cairney, he???s had a great pre-season and you???d think that at home, when you are playing two wide players, he???ll be the one to pick them out. It didn???t work out though. He showed flashes of brilliance but he???s not tough enough to stand up against guys like Southern and Ferguson. It was made worse by the fact that they had Grandin floating around and Phillips dropping deep. We were outnumbered. At the very least Evans should have been introduced at half time to match up to them. Brady and Koren were both seriously ineffective first half, one could have been sacrificed or even Adebola.

Chances were at a premium in the first half. Cairney smacked a free-kick against the post from a ridiculous distance after Adebola and found Koren beautifully and he???d been bundled over. It was an incredible hit from TC and deserved more luck. With half time approaching Hobbs gave them the ball and Taylor-Fletcher fed Phillips who cracked the outside of our post. Chances really were that sparse. Both defences were on top but there was a real lack of quality around the box too. Adebola had a decent first half with some decent lay-off???s and sensible passes. He met his match in the air against Ian Evatt.

Adebola only lasted a minute of the second half. He didn???t get up after an innocuous looking fall so I suspect he was struggling at half time. Blackpool had already had a golden chance by that point, strolling through our defence, whose heads were still in the dressing room, and Grandin would have gone in on goal if not for a wonderful tackle by Robbie Brady. They nearly scored a few minutes later from a nothing free-kick into the box that Gulacsi came out for and got nowhere near. Their header dropped wide of an empty goal. It wasn???t the only time he missed a cross which is worrying but not as frustrating as watching him boot the ball high into the air for the twin towers, Matty Fryatt and Nick Barmby, to try and win. He???s got a touch of the Guzan???s about him.

After that, we clawed our way back in and the game was defined by a mental ten minute period. From nowhere, McKenna slid the ball from midfield to Fryatt who broke their stupidly high line and raced in on goal. He hit the point where a shot was wise and kept going and going until Baptiste nicked the ball off his toe. Then Brady picked the ball up on half way and lit the after burners, his race with Crainey was like watching a donkey race in the Epsom Derby. He put a tremendous low cross in with his right foot but Nick Barmby, clever as ever, made the right run but found himself 6 inches short of connecting. McKenna was put through but knocked over on the edge of the box. Should???ve been a free-kick, even though he wasn???t reaching the ball. The contact was deliberate. Then Cairney skips past two in midfield and slides the ball through, Fryatt latches onto it again and hesitates again allowing Gilks to smother his shot. Fryatt then leaves their defence for dead and slides across goal but Koren is a foot or two short this time. Finally Brady gives Crainey and Southern the run around and slides across for Cairney whose shot is blocked at the near post. A breathless spell.

Football is so, so boring in its predictability. If you miss a load of chances, you know exactly what happens. They go up the other end, work a nice move, play the ball over the top and Gary Taylor-Fletcher lashes the ball into the top corner. Probably the only time in the game that Dudgeon didn???t have Taylor-Fletcher tucked up in his back pocket. We weren???t equalising. It wasn???t our night. Fryatt went through for a third time and let them get in a last ditch tackle. Then Simpson, on for McKenna, went clean through and spooned the ball into row G of the South Stand.

I know pre-season is meaningless but considering ours was flawless; I didn???t really want to believe it. It???s true though. There were times in the first half when we looked like strangers, not guys who???d played 4 games together in the past month and spent a bunch of time on the training ground. Fryatt was sharp and quick last week and cumbersome tonight. Jack Hobbs looked hurried on the ball and unsure without it. Robert Koren, who???d pulled the strings throughout the practice matches, was MIA tonight.

It took Robbie Brady a while to get into the game, some of his first half work was school playground stuff, but once he???d come to terms with it he lit up the place. His ability to pick a ball at speed was very impressive. Liam Rosenior got at them in the first half but rarely went forward after the break. He looked to be limping at one point, which could be connected. Dudgeon is a little diamond in the rough, positioning was mostly sound, wasn???t afraid to make decisions, for himself and others, and was booked for flying into a challenge. He handled Taylor-Fletcher???s aerial threat easily. He looked poor on his right side; I think I???d prefer him to play one-footed until he???s worked on it. Lessons from Daws please! Chester was sound defensively but tried playing passes that a) he???s not capable of and b) there was no need to make.

McKenna showed plenty of fight but was fighting one against three at times. Cairney showed that he???s capable of something out of the ordinary but not capable of the ordinary. The stuff you???ve got to do for 90 minutes if you want to play central midfield. I still think he???s a luxury. Some won???t agree, that???s their right, but I think if you want to play 4 attacking players and attacking wing backs, you build a solid base in midfield. Disappointed too in Fryatt and Simpson. Fryatt was the one player I was sure we could rely on and he was way below par. Simpson???s on the outside looking in. He???s got to take chances if he wants to start.

It will be interesting to see what happens in defence if Ayala signs this week. Nigel Pearson has just handed the captaincy to Jack Hobbs but I think he???s the weakest defender of the three. Still, it???s a nice problem to have.

Shall I finish on a positive? In 2010/11, we started the season with a nice comfortable home win over a decent Swansea side and then had a mare. In 2007/08, we started with a poor home defeat to Plymouth Argyle and got promoted.

boothferrytowembley.blogspot.com

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No Regression, Some Progression
No Regression, Some Progression avatar

October 31st, 2010 by Andy Beill | No Comments | Filed in Featured Posts, Reports, The Terrace

I was quite pleased with yesterdays performance (watching in the pub). We were poor in the first half and were hanging on for a point against Barnsley (18th last season, 17th this season) in the last 10 but there was nothing new rubbish:

Duke was at fault for a goal and looked wobbly with corners and that could see if coming moment with Gerrard.
Dawson continued to struggle (he probably did foul with his flailing arm but I think offside was given anyway).
Kilbane is not a short-term nor long-term answer on the left wing.
We have no focal point to our attacks.
Bostock has no idea.
Devitt doesnt look like a first choice player.

Thats all as weve come to expect, but there were no new aspects of crapness in our play, and there were some new plus points:

Whether it was the half time teamtalk or effectively going down to ten men, the players raised their performances in the second half.
We gave it everything to prevent a second Barnsley goal.
Rosenior looks a fantastic footballer.
Folan was involved and unlucky not to score.
Zayatte was strong and commanding in midfield.

How do we build on this? We need to show that second half spirit for the whole 90 minutes. We need to be switched on in defence throughout no more early goals or sloppy goals from individual mistakes, crosses or corners.

Mannone must be worth a try in goal. McShane has looked better than Dawson this season, so moving him back to right-back when Ayala returns and putting Rosenior in Dawsons place could be an improvement.

A big ask, but can Pearson get Garcia and Halmosi back to their former greatness on the wings in the Championship? It would significantly improve our attacking play if he can. He re-opened the door for Zayatte, will he do the same for Halmosi?

The one thing he doesnt have at his disposal is the centre forward needed to lead the attack. Even if Folan does find form, thats not his game. He may be over 6ft tall but hes not good in the air or a link-up player, hes somebody who wants to get on the end of through balls or pull-backs like the rest of our forwards. The only one who might be able to do it is Vine, but not in the last 2 and a half years. I can see how the rest of our team may come together, but without the right man up top were going to continue to struggle.

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Tigers 2 Derby County 0
Tigers 2 Derby County 0 avatar

September 15th, 2010 by Rick Skelton | No Comments | Filed in Featured Posts, Reports, The Terrace

The Tigers impressive start to the season at the KC Stadium continued with a victory over a beleaguered Derby County side. For all the well documented problems on the road, at home, City are a different team. There is an extra determination about the players, who show more adventure and certainly enjoy more luck. Derby aren???t a poor side but a team who look like we do every time we step onto someone else???s pitch.

Nigel Pearson made several changes again, most notably handing a recall to Jimmy Bullard. The manager???s comments to the local media suggested Jimmy might be involved at some point in the near future. He???s a shrewd one because as everyone grew to expect Jimmy to make the bench (including Nigel Clough I???d imagine), the manager put him on from the start. Bullard formed a midfield trio with Robert Koren and Tom Cairney which looked like it lacked bite. John Bostock played off Fagan and Simpson up front. At the back there were home debuts for Anthony Gerrard, who looks every bit the brute of a centre half we needed, and Daniel Ayala. McShane and Dawson lined up at full back and Duke was in goal (like we have any other choice).

City kicked towards the South Stand in the first half and started well. Jimmy Bullard received a good ovation before kick-off and each time he trotted across to take a corner, he got a bigger reception. He was barely involved in the opening minutes though, you would have been forgiven for thinking he was being deliberately ignored. His first touch was a headed challenge in midfield and shortly after he chased across to put in a tackle on the right wing. If he needed to prove anything, he was doing it. He was spared his first big ???test??? when a 50/50 challenge on the edge of their box became 80/20 in Jimmy???s favour as the referee took out Paul Green.

It was a decent half with both teams playing some good football in spells. City worked the ball well between their defence and midfield with Bostock and Cairney passing quickly and incisively. Derby got their full-backs forward and exploited the space it left when ours came out to meet them. They were most dangerous when Brayford came up from right back, drew Andy Dawson and slid the ball into the space for Paul Green who made the same run four times with great success because Tom Cairney never tracked him until it was too late. You???d think that after the first time, he???d be expecting it. Danger was avoided by the impressive Gerrard and Ayala who met everything that came in from open play. Chances from open play were rare but both sides forced plenty of corners and put balls into the box.

Tom Cairney volleyed just over the bar after a Bullard corner was headed clear. From their corners, Chris Barker had the beating of Ayala all night. That was the only black mark against our Spanish centre-half (the best one we???ve had since the magnificent Antonio Doncel). He couldn???t get near Barker who should have scored when he met a lopping corner 6 yards out and in the middle of the goal. He headed wide with Ayala trailing in his wake and Matt Duke super-glued to his goal line. At the other end, Ayala himself headed over from a few yards out. The pattern continued through out the half. Ayala looked to have tripped Bueno just inside the box but Bueno???s theatrical dive put doubt in the refs mind and nothing was given, while Shefki Kuqi, who is so poor that Swansea let him go out on loan despite having no other fit strikers, shot wide after escaping Gerrard for the only time in the half. At the other end, Jay Simpson dropped off their defenders, laid the ball off and then raced onto the return pass and through on goal. It was the first time we???ve really seen this side of his game. His left footed shot lacked power and Bywater saved comfortably. A couple of minutes later, we were in front. Bullard???s free-kick was headed out of the goalie???s hands by Barker. Fagan did well to retrieve the ball and set up Bostock for a low cross that found Ayala and Simpson alone in the 6 yard box. They had the time to have a 12 round boxing match to decide who was scoring. Despite Simpson???s weight advantage, Ayala has the extra reach and he (deservedly) pinched the goal at the near post. It was scrappy but 2 minutes before half time, it was most welcome. Derby had the better chances in the half but we???d had plenty of the ball and played some terrific stuff inside their half.

Only McShane stood out as being really poor, he???d spent the half trying to be an attacking full-back and proving why he isn???t. Our shape meant we were easy pickings out wide if we didn???t get across to support the full-back. We???d struggled to get Fagan and Simpson into the game because we still went long too often. That was inexcusable with 4 ball players around midfield. I felt that Derby would come at us in the second half and we would have space to exploit with our pace on the counter. That didn???t really happen though. Derby look like we do away from home, utterly devoid of any confidence and there is a lack of conviction in front of goal and a lack of communication in defence. That should have made the second half comfortable for City but our own lack of self-belief meant we looked nervy. The game became a bit of a midfield battle with both defences coping with through balls. Ayala showed a great ability to nick the ball in front of the striker while Gerrard showed he???ll head anything and he won???t be pushed about by anyone. As Derby started to enjoy the majority of possession, we needed to put a few tackles in and Paul McShane was just the guy to do so, winning 4 or 5 balls on the right to disrupt their momentum. It had to be done because we didn???t have anyone in front of the back 4 who even knew what a tackle was.

Gerrard made a terrific header underneath the crossbar from an in-swinging corner. He needed to as well because he???d gifted them the corner. He was pulled down in the box from one of our own corners but the referee wanted nothing to do with it. It must have been a foul. No-one called Gerrard has ever taken a dive. Derby introduced Kris Commons from the bench and even with his chunky frame, he ran rings around McShane. He should???ve equalised soon after. McShane charged into the centre circle to win a challenge but only presented the ball to Green who played a crisp pass into the substitute, Pringle. He exploited the space left by McShane and crossed for Commons to volley wide. That proved crucial. Jay Simpson was slid through in the penalty box but another tame effort was saved by the right boot of Bywater. Seconds later, Dawson???s deep cross found Simpson at the back post. This time he lashed in his shot and Bywater???s parry fell for Koren who dillied then dallied and then slid a shot beyond the wrong-footed Bywater. We saw the game out quite comfortably from there. Daniel Ayala won the KCFM man of the match award, the crowd was announced as 19,714 (to the delight of the 76 away fans) and 5 minutes stoppage time was announce, which would have been terrifying at 1-0. Garcia hit a weak shot from 20 yards, Bullard hit a dipping volley from 25 that didn???t quite dip enough and Shefki Kuqi completed 90 minutes with the aid of a ventilator.

It???s difficult to fathom how a team that is so limp away from home can be so strong at the KC. We haven???t conceded a goal since Darren Bent???s early strike for Sunderland. I make that 445 (regular) minutes of football. Ayala and Gerrard looked an excellent partnership. Very self assured, happy to take the football and confident of winning every challenge. The only worry was Ayala???s failure to get anywhere near barker from set pieces. This is the third partnership we???ve seen in 6 games, using 5 centre halves already. Hopefully these two have done enough to see that situation settle down now. Andy Dawson was exposed at left back by the team shape. McShane was erratic. He gave the ball away and found himself out of position too often but when we needed someone to get amongst them, he did so. Matt Duke didn???t cover himself in glory, failing to come and take looping corners that had his name all over them. Even if he???d come and punched, it would have eased the pressure. His short distribution was as good as ever.

The midfield selection was always a gamble. Focused more on keeping the ball than winning the ball and trusting that our back four could cope with Darby???s sporadic threat. Bullard was the pick of the midfield, as you???d suggest he should be. He was as calm on the ball as ever, constantly finding space and demanding the pass. I only counted one occasion when he gave the ball away. He played lots of simple passes that kept the game moving and several terrific through-the-eye-of-a-needle balls to get us in behind Robbie Savage. His set pieces were superb too. Cairney was a passenger at times, perhaps over shadowed by Bullard. He was too laid back, slow to see a good opening and slow to react to the movement of their players around him. His passes are frustratingly slow, the sort of ball you play at 4-0 up against opponents who have long given up. Too often Dawson over-lapped only to be fed a slow pass that caused him to turn back towards our goal. Robert Koren was decent but lacked a bit of spark. He works hard enough and keeps the game moving but doesn???t look dynamic enough around their box. Hopefully his first goal will give him a lift.

John Bostock gave his best performance since the opening day. He was lively and got into good spaces all over the front third. He tried a lot of ambitious passes that didn???t quite come off but show a good level of confidence. He didn???t waste possession by trying to shoot at every opportunity either, he played a simpler game that helped us generate a bit of momentum. Fagan was very quite, I can???t remember him kicking anyone. He played a part in the first goal but wasn???t involved a lot otherwise. His usual nuisance factor was missing. Jay Simpson had his best game for us. His touch looked more assured and he was a bit fitter and a bit stronger. He started to get in behind them and timed his runs beautifully. He was there to tap in the first if needed, he had two good chances and he made the third with a great movement at the far post. He just failed to put in Koren a few minutes before that when leading a good counter attack. He and Fagan have the makings of a decent partnership, if we can stop trying to hit the ball at them in the air.

It???s nice that Saturday is a home game, we like them. It???s nice that the opposition are Nottingham Forest, who we haven???t played competitively since before I was born. Hopefully we???ll see a more settled side and City can put two good performances together for the first time in a long, long while.

Ratings: Duke 6, McShane 5, Dawson 6, Gerrard 7, Ayala 8, Bullard 8, Cairney 6, Koren 7, Bostock 7 (Garcia), Fagan 6, Simpson 7 (Cullen).

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Brentford 2-1 Hull City
Brentford 2-1 Hull City avatar

August 25th, 2010 by Andy Beill | No Comments | Filed in Reports, The Terrace

A pain to get to and from, but really enjoyed the ground. Im sure the fans who go to all the away games will have seen grounds like that more recently, but I cant think of the last ground I visited that was quite so old-fashioned, close and compact, with steep stands (and no leg room). Certainly not places like Wigan, Blackburn etc. or our own ground. I think this helped me to enjoy the game as well, you certainly felt closer to the action.

Citys players looked levels above Brentfords in terms of strength, fitness, ball control. However, exactly what I expected to happen did happen: our disjointed defence gave them a winner. Gardners performance was unacceptable as the biggest man on the pitch why was he afraid to show some strength and intimidate the opposition? Solano was dreadful. He was most guilty of punting long balls into the corners or to their goalkeeper, as others did too. In general, the defence just panicked too much and gave possession and throw-ins away far too easily even when under no pressure.

Garcia and Simpson contributed nothing. Koren didnt contribute enough, only the shot hitting the bar I can really think of.

Cairney and Devitt are both predictable always onto their stronger foot. Good players but they need some variety or theyll be found out.

Cullen was our man of the match by a mile. You cant help but like him. Hes always looking to get involved in the game, making runs off the ball, closing down, and an enthusiasm in his face that reminds me of Deano. Great finish for his disallowed goal, was surprised it was offside but hard to be sure from behind the goal.

Another League Cup run ended at the first hurdle and were further away if anything from having a settled team.

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Millwall 4 Tigers 0
Millwall 4 Tigers 0 avatar

August 15th, 2010 by Rick Skelton | No Comments | Filed in Reports, The Terrace

It had been a tremendous week for the Tigers. We signed John Bostock, beat Swansea comfortably at home, brought in Robert Koren and then agreed the necessary debt restructuring to allow us to move the club forwards. I joked on Friday that with all that scope for optimism, we???d get hammered at Millwall. Even I didn???t really believe it.

Nigel Pearson named the same team as last week with new signing Robert Koren understandably only making the bench. On Paper it looked a good idea as last weeks team was set up first and foremost to defend our goal. We had two wide players who track back, a holding midfielder and Bostock playing off the striker and able to drop in to make a 5 in midfield. We all know the old clich?? about football not being played on paper and that certainly rang true today.

From almost the first whistle Millwall took control. They were confident and aggressive (in a good way, not like the animals in the stands). Whenever the opportunity arose, they passed slickly through midfield, made great runs into the oceans of space behind us and worked positions to cross the ball. When they got the ball wide, 90% of the time, they got a cross in or won a corner. When they got a cross in, 90% of the time, they met the ball. We were atrocious. Our midfield was none existent; they passed through it in 2 passes every time and found themselves 2 on 1 with one of our defenders. Most often they got at Solano who is assured on the ball, can pick a pass and makes solid tackles when the game is tight but isn???t going to cope with runners in wide open spaces, not a chance these days.

In the first five minutes, City stemmed the flow. Zayatte made several interceptions, Garcia held the ball up well and there was little sign of the ease at which we???d collapse. The one sign was the movement of Steve Morison who got himself attached to Solano or Dawson and attacked long diagonal balls. We couldn???t cope with him. After 15 or so minutes, they got in behind Solano to win a corner. The corner was whipped towards the back post, Duke didn???t fancy it and Morison completely outfought Gardner to head it in. While there was possibly a foul on Gardner, there was also a complete lack of the strength or fight needed to cope with a striker like Morison.

We had a lucky escape a couple of minutes later when Kamilkaze attempted to dribble around Lisbie when there was no one behind him (sound familiar?) Luckily Zayatte had the speed to get back at Lisbie who could only shoot tamely. There was no reprieve shortly after as Liam Trotter out paced Kilbane and Dawson to get onto a ball in behind, knocked it back to Henry and his cross was met by Lisbie, stooping at the near post. No one tracking Trotter, no-one stopping the cross and no-one anywhere near Lisbie. Just a complete lack of awareness of the situation. It was too easy. They weren???t Spain, they were Millwall and yet our inability to close space, make tackles and mark them in the box meant they could move the ball around with the freedom of the World Champions. Nigel Pearson had seen enough and sent on McShane for Solano. There were plenty of moaners around us who wanted attacking players on at 0-2 but we were getting mauled at the back. We had to stem the flow before we could build anything.

Our attacking threat was barely existent. We moved the ball around at snail???s pace. The only attacking player with the movement and the awareness of space to match Millwall was Will Atkinson, who sparked our few attacking forays by coming in off the flank, getting into the space Bostock should have been exploiting and trying to link with Garcia. Bostock was pathetic. When he got the ball, he tried to shoot from ridiculous angles. Someone enjoyed all the publicity from last week???s goal a bit too much. It was 70 minutes before he looked anything like a team player. Still, he was better than Kilbane, who was just useless. Attacking threat? None. Defensive cover? None. Experienced head galvanizing young players? Nope. That this clown walked out for the second half and Will Atkinson found himself taking an early shower was a travesty. Peter Halmosi hasn???t done much of anything to earn a first team place at City but he could stroll up and down the left wing doing sod all and would at least whip in some decent set-pieces to justify selection. Kevin Kilbane in a City shirt just makes me think ???Perhaps Ryan Williams wasn???t that bad after all????

So two down at half time Nigel Pearson responded by introducing Robert Koren and Mark Cullen. Will Atkinson and Richard Garcia made way. Both quite unlucky given the lack of input from Kilbane and Bostock. The second half did bring about some positives. It was obvious from his very first involvement that Robert Koren is a touch of class. His movement, on and off the ball, was quicker and more purposeful that anything we???d seen beforehand. In Mark Cullen, he had a good striker to play off. I was more impressed with Cullen in this half than in any game I???ve seen so far, which I think covers just about every first team appearance. He played well with his back to goal, he controlled the ball instantly and brought others into play and then he turned, made for space and demanded the ball back. He showed an ability to get into good positions and the confidence to have a go at goal. After we???d gone 3-0 down, we switched Bostock and Koren and despite being undermined by our total inability to stop Millwall creating a good chance every time they moved inside our half, Koren and Cullen shone up front. They injected pace into our attacks, speed of thought and speed of movement, they moved the ball quickly, made another run and demanded the ball back and we created a few chances. Dawson made a terrific run down the left, was slid in and forced a good save from Forde. Koren burst into the box and was denied by a defender, then Forde and then by the ???keeper again. Our Slovenian debutant then shot just over with his left foot before Cullen tested Forde from long range. Tom Cairney looked much more comfortable after the introduction of these two and found the movement and ease of passing that we???ve seen from him.

Reading the BBC stats on the way home, it suggested that we had the most possession (51-49) and the most shots on target (7-6) which proves how pointless stats can be. Stats don???t show how Dawson, Solano and McShane found stopping crosses to be an unbelievable task. Nor do they show how utterly diabolical ???big??? Gardner was. Nor can they explain how the hell Kamil Zayatte???s mind works. As well as the attempt to take on Lisbie, we were also treated to a diving header to put the ball out for a throw, when the ball was a foot off the floor and then a stooping attempt to chest the ball in our box (think of how a seal looks) when the ball was a foot and a half off the floor. That one caused mayhem and gifted Millwall another good chance. The third goal came from a corner that looked a poor decision. Zayatte attempted a back pass despite Morison being between he and Matt Duke but luckily the ball struck Morison and ran out of play. That somehow became a corner. Despite that, the marking when the corner was lobbed in to the back post was terrible. Gardner was watching Morison, he had no idea where the ball was. Morison watched the ball and looped a terrific header into the far corner. Goal number four was pretty much a copy of goal two, only this time Trotter arrived in the box with Zayatte trailing in his wake to tap in. This was easily the worst display of defending since the Wigan debacle in August 2008.

So what now? We???ve had one decent performance and one abysmal performance. Next up is Watford. One thing that is for certain is that in Danny Graham they have a striker who is just as physical as and even better technically than Steve Morison. We can???t afford to be as lackadaisical with our marking as we were today. Despite our defensive troubles last season, I???m sure most people thought that Gardner and Zayatte would be fine at this level but on this evidence, they aren???t. I???d replace one or the other with McShane at centre half next week. I???d also like to see Garcia and Fagan out wide with Koren and Cullen through the middle. This is the first real test of Nigel Pearson. Picking the players up after this horror show is going to be difficult. If he does it and we get a positive result at Watford, it will be another sign that NP might just be the man for us.

Ratings: Duke 6, Solano 5 (McShane 6), Dawson 6, Gardner 5, Zayatte 5, Atkinson 7, Kilbane 5, Ashbee 6, Cairney 6, Bostock 5 (Koren 7), Garcia 6 (Cullen 7)

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Tigers 2 Swansea 0
Tigers 2 Swansea 0 avatar

August 9th, 2010 by Rick Skelton | No Comments | Filed in Reports

It doesn???t matter what division we???re in or who the opponents are, it???s the opening day of the season, the sun is shining (for a bit) and when ???Tigers, Tigers, Burning bright?????? starts up, there are goose bumps all the way up your arms and the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Another rollercoaster ride is under way.

Predicting anything in the life of Hull City is impossible. We could genuinely finish in any one of the 24 places in the Championship table. Similarly, this opening day fixture could have ended in any result from a glorious home win to a gut wrenching defeat. Given the two sides recent record a nil-nil bore draw looked the most likely outcome. Given my pessimism, the resulting 2-0 victory, earned comfortably with few scares was a joy to behold. Even with our recent history, the goals that won the game were two of the most satisfying I can remember.

Having played 4-4-2 all the way through pre-season, the arrival of John Bostock and the absence of Caleb Folan meant we started with a 4-4-1-1 formation on Saturday with Richard Garcia as the lone front man. Will Atkinson???s impressive recent form meant he edged out Peter Halmosi for a spot on the left of midfield. Daniel Cousin was left on the bench and unused which is surely an indication that he???s on his way out this week. Matt Duke started in goal (obviously) and must have been chuffed to bits when he head Steve Jordan announce ???In goal, number one Matt Duke.??? As disappointing as it is to see Bo Myhill leave, it???s equally pleasing to see Matt Duke rewarded for 6 years of patience and steady improvement.

The team line up appeared to reflect the thoughts of most fans throughout this pre-season. We look solid at the back and neat in midfield but we lack any presence up front and we lack pace. This was proven throughout the game. We were tidy in midfield, we passed the ball well and our wide players held up the ball and allowed Dawson and Solano to go beyond them but whenever the ball was played forward hurriedly, it was lost. Garcia challenged for everything but he???s 3 inches short of being a target man. Swansea looked the brighter side and in Dyer, they had the pace that we were missing. We were never in a great deal of trouble with David Cotterill???s free-kick clipping the top of the bar when the game was scoreless being the only real scare.

The big question beforehand was ???Where are we going to get a goal from???? When John Bostock hit a superb low shot just wide of De Vries left hand post, he was working on an answer. Five minutes later he laid the ball of to Nobby Solano in midfield, ran into space, collected the return, flicked the ball through Jordi Gomez???s legs on the turn and then lashed an incredible strike into the top right hand corner. He was easily 30 yards out, perhaps further. 18 months of near-constant misery was just about forgotten as 21,000 City fans leapt into the air in unison, hopefully celebrating a new dawn and not another false one. Bostock raced away with his shirt off and was booked. Any chance of the FA clamping down on hideous cheating rather than punishing moments of sheer joy? Bostock joined Solano in the book, our right back having been carded for the fouled that led to the aforementioned free-kick.

The goal settled City and we began to pass the ball with more confidence, earning a succession of corners. From the last one, Gardner rose to meet Garcia???s cross 6 yards out but headed over. Big Tony hit the deck, he knew he should have scored. Swansea might have punished that miss moments later when a deep cross was headed miles wide by Pratley. It was a decent chance. From there on the game became a tad scrappy with lots of challenges in midfield but little action near either goal. We might have forced more had we some help from the referee who was happy to let a lot of challenges go unpunished. I wouldn???t be surprised if Richard Garcia woke up on Sunday morning to find Alan Tate???s forearm still embedded between his shoulder blades. He was clobbered on numerous occasions and the only decision given was a free-kick to Swansea for handball after Garcia tried to grab the ball to take a free-kick that was never awarded. The only threat at the other end came when Zayatte tried to take on their striker in front of our goal. Luckily, Swansea were clueless in the final third.

The second half started with City still in the ascendancy although our play was slightly disjointed. We would have seriously benefited from having a bit of presence up front and some pace on either wing. Having a decent striker and Garcia on the right hand side would have been a major improvement too. That???s not a slight on Will Atkinson, he was tidy enough but he isn???t dynamic and with Kilbane fulfilling the role of the tidy wide player who won???t beat a man, we could use the creativity on the other side. On this day, being functional was good enough and a second goal was forthcoming. Garcia chased a lost cause and his deep cross was unnecessarily put out for a corner by right-back Sernan. Garcia, as he had all game, delivered a terrific set piece beyond the back post. Goalkeeper De Vries flapped at it and while Zayatte couldn???t profit the ball fell to Ian Ashbee who lashed it in. While the first goal was brilliant, the second was utterly delightful. We missed Ash last season. He showed us why on Saturday. He covered the entire pitch making sure he was always available for a pass and always in position to defend our back four. He???ll always accept the ball, he won???t often play a killer ball but he???ll keep it moving and no matter how many times he gives it away, he won???t ever shirk the next one. He???s an incredible leader, he manages everyone, some get a verbal volley, some get an encouraging word; he knows what everyone needs. In addition, he covered every bit of grass, not bad for someone coming off a 15 month lay off who was ???fat??? three weeks ago according to our own fans. He???s worked his socks off to get back in and he did again on Saturday. He was too keen at times, jumping into tackles he couldn???t win but that???s a small criticism in an incredible performance.

The game died away after that goal. Swansea couldn???t score twice; you could see it in their faces. Only Ashley Williams drove at us from deep, the rest looked lost. We made changes, Devitt replaced Atkinson and gave us some spark on the right hand side. Mark Cullen replaced Garcia, who got a terrific ovation from a crowd that appreciated the effort he put in, albeit without much in the way of reward. Lastly, Barmby relieved Bostock, who???d played well, looked lively, scored the goal of his life and then taken a heavy knock in the first half and ended up with a bandaged head in the second.

We were so comfortable. Zayatte and Gardner won everything that came their way, Cairney and Bostock (later Barmby) floated around in midfield, the wide men came inside and let Dawson and Solano provide a great option out wide and we played the game out. Jamie Devitt hit a curling shot in stoppage time that dropped just wide, that would really have been the cherry on the top of the cake.

It was a terrific start to the season but it???s only the first brick in what needs to be a great big wall. Predicting where we might finish this season is still impossible because we don???t know who will leave between now and September 1st and if or when reinforcements might come in. What I???m sure of is that if we keep the 18 from Saturday (minus Cousin) along with Fagan and Harper and we add a little more potency up front, we???ll have a good season, maybe even better.

I???d just like to place on record my thanks to Boaz Myhill. I???m truly privileged that I got to see him from the moment he signed, a total unknown with a funny name and a naff haircut! We watched him grow as a footballer, from a boy who looked decent in the bottom division to a man who excelled in the top flight. He was a near complete modern goalkeeper who had incredible agility and even greater humility. His words of late have been those of a wonderful professional who respected everything this club did for him. Thanks for everything you did for us, Boaz. That save at Watford is still incredible. This club will never spend ??50k more wisely if we???re around for another million years.

Ratings: Duke 7, Solano 7, Dawson 8, Gardner 7, Zayatte 7, Atkinson 6 (Devitt), Kilbane 6, Ashbee 9, Cairney 7, Bostock 8 (Barmby), Garcia 6 (Cullen).

Feel free to leave comments below. Dont be too harsh though, I cry easily!

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