It’s all about the Ws right now. Steve Bruce said as much to the Hull Daily Mail ahead of the visit of Charlton: “You’re not necessarily looking for the team to play well, you have to go and get the result.” Get it we did, it wasn’t a great game, parts of it were quite dull in fact, but we ground out three points as we try to create some daylight between us in second and those sides chasing.
We can’t moan too much about watching pragmatic football, as we’ve been spoiled by some lovely football this season, at least those who have been bothered to turn up at the KC Stadium have. It is somewhat perverse that the team chasing promotion from Division Three nine seasons ago often drew bigger crowds than this team, ensconced in an automatic promotion place dipping their toes in the Premier League bath.
Yes, yes, we’re in a recession, people can ill afford such frivolities like watching the best Football League campaign in club history, but is that really true? This recession was just a twinkle in Gordon Brown’s ballbag when Phil Brown’s Tigers were putting together a run that anyone watching could see was a little bit special, only not that many people were watching. This time then? We played Colchester and Burnley at home with attendances of 15,664 and 15,838. Maybe people in Hull are just slow to catch on to a good thing.
Anyway we digress, and that’s because there isn’t that much to say about City’s 1-0 win over Charlton other than that we won 1-0. But, we must try.
Egyptian striker Gedo was rewarded for his debut heroics with a first start, paired alongside Jay Simpson, whom he replaced at half time in the 2-1 win over Derby in midweek. E1 took to pronouncing his name ‘Geeedo’ rather than ‘Geddo’, which is quasi-understandable given that he has Gedo on his shirt despite calling himself Geddo on Twitter. Arabic to English translation seems to be multiple choice when it comes to spelling, have you seen how many variants of houmous there are? There’s hummus, hommos, hoummos, hummous, hommus and, by far the worst, humos. It is ludicrous, but very tasty.
Robert Koren, subbed against Derby, started on the bench as City lined up thus: Stockdale; McShane, Hobbs, Chester; Brady, Bruce, Elmohamady, Meyler, Quinn; Simpson and Gedo.
Bruce, again deployed in midfield, would patrol the area ahead of the back three like a sweeper with poor spatial awareness, he’s Alex Brucenbauer. This negates that occasional, awful feeling you get whenever Quinn is running towards our goal ready to set up an opposition attack, Bruce is there to tackle him.
City made an encouraging and enterprising start to the game, spearheaded by a hungry looking Jay Simpson who slalomed him way around several blackshirted Charlton players pretending to be static objects before chipping the ball deftly into the path of Elmohamady, his cross though was cleared. Paul McShane, that slab of hunky Irish beef with absolutely no hoss DNA, did his best to get above a Brady cross from a free kick but could not, but he scampered to the touchline to retrieve the ball and delivered a decent cross of his own, Meyler headed goalward only to see it hacked off the line by an Addick.
So far so glorious, City were well in control of the opening period and Simpson again was causing problems with his willing running, one dash into the box was bogged down by defenders, but on a breakaway soon after, he again fed Elmohamady who again had a decent cross bundled away, a familiar story.
Unable to capitalise on the early pressure, City’s tempo dropped somewhat and for the first time Charlton were in the game as an attacking presence. Brady did well to cut out a dangerous, obliquely delivered ball into the box. The pace of the game continued to slow, and in a prolonged lull, City seemed frustratingly comfortable with Charlton having the ball for extended periods. Thankfully they didn’t look like doing much with it as the game became largely formless.
Eventually City got a second wind, Gedo, chasing a flick on from Meyler won a corner. From that kick Brady flung in a high outswinging cross that had keeper Hamer grasping for air, Elmohamady knocked the ball down, and amid a mass of bodies in the six yard box, Gedo coolly swivelled and poked the ball over the line for his second goal in two games. 33 minutes gone, 1-0 City.
Ricardo Fuller had his name noted by the referee after a flagrant attempt to cheat a free kick and several minutes of ‘treatment’ ended with him exchanging angry words with McShane, the yellow card appeared to be for dissent rather than simulation and timewasting.
Just before the half tick-tocked itself to death, ex-Tiger Leon Cort headed a goalbound Meyler drive over the bar, exemplifying City’s overall control of the half. After some bright sparks early on, most of the first 45 was low wattage stuff, but the scoreboard indicated a lead, and that suited our new found pragmatism pretty well.
City were forced to reshuffle early in the second half when McShane appeared to twang a hamstring making a clearance, the McJestic defender was McSubbed for Egyptian right sider Fathi, necessitating Bruce to drop back into defence.
Before the change Cort had made a clearance as Gedo looked to strike a Meyler cross and Brady fizzed a free kick over the bar after a foul on Quinn. The visitors first attack of note in the second half had their more visually impaired supporters leaping for joy, but Pritchard’s header was wide and had hit the black pole holding the nets in place rather than the back of the net.
David Meyler was having an industrious (albeit erratic) game, and he came close to scoring for the third time when a rasping drive was parried and then caught by Hamer. Some commentators might call it a palm stinging shot but they’ve obviously never worn modern ‘keeper gloves made of Kevlar and latex foam pioneered by Wayne Enterprises Applied Sciences Division.
City were none too pleased when play carried on after Robbie Brady was left in a crumpled heap, he was punching the pitch to deal with knee pain while Charlton’s Pritchard hit a close range shot wide and as Brady received treatment from the physio he was jawing at the linesman to express his displeasure.
Charlton replaced Fuller with Haynes and for a while the game degenerated into aimless hoofing from both sides. To inject some focus into City and shake them from a torpor, Bruce added Koren to the game, withdrawing Simpson, who’d put in a fine, hardworking display for 70 minutes.
The effect wasn’t instant, as City complacently allowed Haynes to fire in a shot that was thankfully straight at Stockdale. Such complacency was galling, Charlton look a limited side on this showing but any side in this division will match us if we let them, and this game was far from in the bag.
Soon though Koren made his presence felt, he set Gedo free and the man mystifyingly nicknamed “Granddad” tried to go past and round Hamer but the Addicks’ netman foiled the eventual shot at the expense of a corner. Not long afterwards, Koren tried to capitalise on a Charlton error with a quick-reaction shot that flew wide and our slick Slovene did a twisting, springy leap to express outrage at himself.
City were back on top and creating attacks, but as has often been the case this year, were profligate and lacking true killer instinct. Meyler directed a header over on the turn as he met Gedo’s cross from the right after good work from Koren. Charlton were not without chances of their own though, a needless Bruce foul on the touchline in front of the East Stand afforded the black shirts and free-kick that when delivered was punched away well by Stockdale.
Gedo was retired and received a deserved ovation (while City’s Facebook page went into Arabic comment meltdown, you should click translate on some, they’re nonsensically ace), replaced by Tom Cairney in the first of five added minutes. Both sides were to have one decent goalscoring chance before the end, Charlton went first, with Wright-Phillips setting up a close range shot for Haynes that was palmed away by Stockdale and at the other end, Cairney waited till Elmo’s pass trundled under his left foot before striking a powerful shot that Hamer did well to push away.
The whistle sounded, and slender victory was confirmed. We could hold court and pontificate about missed opportunities and occasional complacency, but being all pragmatic all of a sudden, we’re just going to be thankful for the W. Just as a dog turd placed in a handsome mahogany box is still a dog turd, an ugly win is still a win.
Before the game, thoughts were on putting pressure on Leicester by going six points ahead of them (yes they have two games in hand, but better to have points already than potential gains) but afterwards attention was switched to Watford and Crystal Palace who both leapfrogged Nigel Pearson’s lot in the table with big wins.
Still, we have little to fear from them if we can keep producing wins of our own, irrespective of how they’re achieved. As they might say on City’s Arabic Facebook page, W فقط، وطفل رضيع.