Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Hull shitty

Newcastle Utd 2 - 3 Hull City

With the benefit of hindsight, this was a classic banana skin. The home side were unchanged, fresh from genuinely hitting their stride against Aston Villa, while our newly promoted opponents were seeking their first away win in the top flight in 21 attempts, not helped by the loss of experienced Premier League pros Robert Koren and Maynor Figueroa. We should have foreseen the fact that the Tigers would prevail - and prevail they did, deservedly so.

Not that an away victory looked to be on the cards early on. We set about showing attacking intent from the kick-off, Dreamboat and Moussa Sissoko providing thrust and craft from midfield while Loic Remy caused havoc cutting in from the left wing. Ten minutes had elapsed when Sissoko's right-wing cross was mis-hit into the turf by Papiss Cisse, only to fall perfectly for Remy to nod past Allan McGregor in the Gallowgate goal, his first strike in black and white.

Things started to change after about 20 minutes, though, as Hull's two imports from Spurs, Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore, started to get a grip on central midfield. The Tigers' tactic of leaving players in advanced positions in the hope of profiting by lofting underhit clearances back into the danger zone had already nearly paid off, with our back four rescued once by the offside flag, but they failed to heed the warning. When Sone Aluko slipped in Robbie Brady on the left side of the box, he drilled a shot through Tim Krul's legs.

In truth, by that point Hull could already have been level. From Brady's cross moments earlier, Danny Graham's point-blank header had been somehow clawed to safety by Krul. It was our good fortune that the prodigiously eyebrowed Toon supporter on loan from the Mackems is in such poor form - and we were even luckier with the goal that took us back into the lead shortly before half-time.

Hull had arguably been the better side since equalising, Brady continuing to cause problems on the left while Aluko's willing running dragged our central defenders around. But when Dreamboat's optimistic 25-yard drive was inadvertently deflected off the otherwise impressive James Chester to Remy, the Frenchman's finish was unerring.

That should have given us the platform to push on for a comfortable win, but instead we gifted our visitors a second equaliser within minutes of the restart. Brady was once again instrumental, punishing a foolish challenge from Vurnon Anita by whipping in a free kick that ex-Mackem Ahmed Elmohamady glanced in off the far post.

We'd taken the lead twice, but it was now far from obvious where the spark of inspiration to do so again was going to come from. Remy was being shackled much more effectively; Sissoko had faded from view, now looking leggy and lethargic; HBA kept dribbling into trouble and being dispossessed by the first defender, that claim about wanting to win the Ballon d'Or hanging like a millstone around his neck; and Dreamboat, whom the Silver Fox compared to David Frost in the week on account of his unflappable composure under pressure, was now playing about as well as the late broadcaster before succumbing to an injury. His replacement Yoan Gouffran had secured the win at Villa Park but offered nothing this time.

Arguably most alarming, though, was Cisse's display. His sole contribution of note was to cock up productively in the build-up to Remy's opener. He was aimless and half-hearted, never looking likely to even come close to ending his scoring drought. Frankly, as our number nine, he should be utterly embarrassed at being (rightly) hauled off with twenty minutes to go and us in increasingly desperate search for a winner.

Three minutes later there was a winner - just not for us. For the most part Hull had been content to absorb with ease what little pressure we could muster, but seized an opportunity to forge ahead for the first time in the match. Substitute George Boyd benefited from what passes for close defensive attention from HBA to put in a perfect cross that Aluko volleyed past Krul.

That should have spurred us to redouble our efforts, but heads went down, passes continued to go astray, HBA continued to wander into a mass of blue shirts so often he was liable for a hefty congestion charge, and the volume of groans and dissent in the stands increased. Remy could and indeed should have completed his hat-trick to snatch a point at the death, but, to the disbelief of all of us in the Leazes Stand in particular, blasted wide from what looked like a matter of inches.

For Ol' Cauliflower Face, gallingly, the final scoreline helped to exorcise the demons of that 5-1 humping of the Mackems - "the worst experience of my football life", he claimed afterwards. His opposite number, meanwhile, was left muttering about us being inconsistent and "loose", clearly and justifiably feeling let down by the players - though his decision to replace Mathieu Debuchy with Mr T in the closing minutes defied comprehension about as much as did the result itself.

No fixture is must win at this stage of the season; however, you do have to concede that, with two consecutive away days followed by the visit of Liverpool, 6-0 victors at St James' last season, on the horizon, those lost three points would have been very welcome indeed.

A Hull fan's perspective: Amber Nectar

Other reports: BBC, Observer

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Anonymous Kyle said...

I thought Newcastle were desperately disappointing. They played excellently for the first 20 minutes with everyone looking sharp and getting on the ball but then just switched off and never got close to playing well again. Credit to Hull who defended solidly in the second half, attacked competently (no more - assisted by some woeful defending) and had the classiest player on the pitch in Huddlestone.

Newcastle's tactics seemed a bit confused, I'm not convinced that the squad has the players on the bench to change a game, none of the subs made much impact, though I actually thought Tiote looked keen for the 5 minutes he was on, he at least tried to inject some snap into the game.

Looking for positives: Remy played excellently, he faded when he started to play through the middle but he looked really dangerous cutting in from the wing, a hat-trick would've been just reward - he'll do well this season I think. Anita was always willing to get on the ball, though he didn't use it to great effect. Having given him credit though I'm not sure if it should have been him, Cabaye or Sissoko pressing Huddlestone but it should've been someone! He controlled the tempo very efficiently - I would have expected him to be put under more pressure. Still early in the season though as you say and Hull will surprise more teams this year I think, they're well organised.

4:08 pm  

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