MATCH REPORT: City 1-0 Liverpool

 

DawsonM

Annual events that Hull City supporters can reel off in the ever-evolving life of the club. An owner turning weird. A star player going crap. A major signing suffering a serious injury. Beating Nottingham Forest away. Negligence in the League Cup. Losing to Macclesfield Town somewhere, anywhere. Beating Liverpool at home.

That last one looks quite good, doesn’t it? And given that until last season it had never, ever happened, it looks even more impressive. We’d like to think that Liverpool fans will refer regularly now on in match previews to “our annual defeat at Hull”.

And it never really looked in doubt. This is despite the only goal coming late in the first half and no further chances being taken. As great a victory and stellar a performance it was from City, it was at least in no small part to the Liverpool team clearly thinking too much about the Seychelles in June.

Of course, the chance to beat Liverpool at the Circle next season isn’t yet confirmed, and Steve Bruce rightly declared there were further big tasks ahead for his side, not least with Arsenal to pop up our way on Monday. But six points from six, after a run so wretched even Derek Redmond would have declared it unrealistic, has made the Premier League future for City so much the brighter.

Bruce, rightly, had no need to change the team from the one that gave Palace a belt in the mouth on Saturday. So striding it with purpose before a rocking KC Stadium were Harper; Chester, Dawson, McShane; Elmohamady, Livermore, Huddlestone, Quinn, Brady; Aluko, N’Doye. Liverpool didn’t bring Steven Gerrard with them, and as a consequence a few individuals were seen shuffling away from their previously unoccupied seat in the West Upper muttering phrases such as “want my fookin’ money back” and “how far is it home to Sigglesthorne from here again?”

They did pick Mario Balotelli, though. And how we laughed.

The Italian, described by some as “a talented enigma” and others as “an overrated gobshite”, was in action early after an innocuous but unlawful trip from Tom Huddlestone, to which the Liverpool centre forward reacted with puzzling anger, shoving the City midfielder away, prior to taking the free kick himself and seeing it deflect off the wall. This was, along with a backheeled attempt at goal a little later in the half, the most notable contribution he chose to make to the game.

Ah, the game. Yes. A tad pedestrian, with City dictating the pace as Liverpool surprisingly were less keen on maintaining possession, with Philippe Coutinho (ludicrously in the PFA team of the season) having little influence. The best player on the park in red was Jordan Henderson, although a new £100,000 a week contract for someone who is good but not great symbolises the financial incredulities of football as much as the ticket prices which kept most Liverpool fans with the audacity to live on Merseyside away from the occasion.

City’s first chance came when a free kick into the Liverpool box was cleared to the lively Sone Aluko on the left, and he found room to cross for Dame N’Doye, whose header was powerful but lacked direction, allowing Simon Mignolet to catch.

A quiet moment allowed the City faithful in north and east to label the Liverpool fans ‘scabs’, which will have caused an arousing ripple of nostalgia for the socialists in the home crowd while baffling the suburban Yorkshire folk in the away end, some of whom had palpable looks of sheepishness throughout.

Henderson pulled a corner back to Coutinho whose shot was saved through the bodies by Steve Harper before Huddlestone cleared acrobatically. Harper’s handling was mildly suspect at times but this was a fine save given his restricted vision, and only injury is now likely to see him displaced from the team for the remainder of the campaign.

Aluko tripped over Martin Skrtel’s invisible leg and won a fortunate free kick which he took himself. The clearance via Mignolet’s fist reached Huddlestone, who lofted back in for James Chester to head straight at the Belgian.

Chances at each end, none of them absolutely clear cut. Raheem Sterling, a good footballer but nowhere near a complete player, then got past Chester and crossed low for Balotelli, whose impudent back heel contacted well but was straight at Harper. This was regarded as selfish and unnecessarily showy by supporters on both sides; the replays showed it was as good an option as he had, and he nearly pulled it off through power alone. The only tick next to his name.

City swapped passes a dozen times before Aluko had a shot that Mignolet saved well, with the football becoming edge-of-seat stuff. Why can’t we play like this all the time? Because we’re human. Footballers sometimes get it wrong, as well as right. It’s likely you’ve made at least one mistake at work today.

Balotelli then lost possession on City’s left and, indirectly, lost Liverpool the game. Aluko piled on the pressure after the Italian’s idleness relinquished the ball, won a corner. It was cleared to Paul McShane who comically (he would later say deliberately) miscontrolled for the arriving Ahmed Elmohamady to swing in a peach of a cross for Michael Dawson, played onside by a lethargic Balotelli to head in. It was his first goal for the club, majestically flighted from his forehead to the one bit of goal Mignolet couldn’t reach.

And as a result of the goal, he got a chant. Why the City faithful couldn’t just adapt the song that heralded his big brother for ten years is something of a mystery, but you can’t have everything.

City deserved it too. Certainly Liverpool looked less likely to score, but they did step up for the last five minutes of the half. The busy Henderson, looking like a captain, less like a midfield general, volleyed a Jordan Ibe cross goalwards which Harper gathered at the second go. Then, in added time, Glen Johnson broke down the left and got all the way to the byline inside he six yard area before gliding the ball invitingly for Balotelli to tap in. Except he didn’t, because he stopped his run just as the ball was played, then had the gall to blame the full back. Balotelli must be among the most disliked players among Liverpool fans of all time, which is quite an achievement after one season, much of which has been spent not on the field of play.

There was no time for the throw-in, as the half time whistle shrilled. City walked off the pitch, satisfied.

The now traditional chant at 19:04 had occurred in its usual spot, and there was anti-Allam sentiment elsewhere too. Now, at Palace, where the City fans were in attendance rather than the Premier League fans, it was unlikely there would be much protest at any ditties suggesting that our owner, mad and maddening, becoming more and more unhinged and unreasonable by the day, might wish to forswear his involvement with our club. But the acid test would be how the anti-Allam verse would be received from the mushroom club appointees who take up valuable seating at home games and didn’t know until this week that Bournemouth even had a football team.

The answer? A bit meh. The booing that soiled the air around the Circle when we played West Ham in September wasn’t there. Some supporters stopped going after that happened. Perhaps the publicised presence of the North Ferriby United players at half time had an effect, with the news at the weekend that the Allams were unplugging the ventilator at Church Road after a season of great joy, national acclaim and life-enhancing excellence. It’s all about business, you see. And it’s certainly not all in the timing. If it’s the squalid treatment of the local non-league club, FA Trophy winners and playful summertime foes in the Billy Bly Trophy every season, that has finally made the epigeous fungi wake up and smell the stroganoff, then so be it. Better late than never.

Meanwhile, the manager felt the need after the match to declare that the anti-Allam chants were unnecessary, ungrateful, unhelpful, add your own adjectives here. He reminded us, like children, that the man had put lots of money into the club. Steve, mate, you’re a fine manager and a nice guy, and we do get that you can’t be seen to criticise or contradict the chap who gave you a good job. But he hasn’t put loads of money in that he isn’t expecting to get back, with interest. And it’s got nothing to do with that anyway – he has insulted, decried, ignored, undervalued, outraged and finally outpriced the fans. One doesn’t imagine that our manager would have deemed victory over Liverpool just as fulfilling if it had been behind closed doors, though if the owner could fashion a way of emptying the pockets of supporters and then still not allowing them into the stadium, he would.

The second half then, and it was initially uneventful. The hour mark had passed before Henderson – again – turned and volleyed at Harper after a clip in from Coutinho around the ‘D’ mark of the area. Henderson again tested Harper afterwards from distance, with the City keeper equal to it via a mild fumble.

City then won a corner which Robbie Brady took and Chester flicked on. McShane seemed to miss the timing of his header and Skrtel, unwittingly, butted the ball away from almost under his own bar.

Sterling – whom this author still thinks goes by the first name of Worrall, and has edited this report accordingly – then cut inside Elmohamady and hit a shot that could’ve caused strife to Harper had Jake Livermore not got bodily parts in the way that took the pace out of the shot. The keeper had a much more straightforward save to make as a result.

Liverpool, looking uninterested and tired, had already made three substitutions by the time City prepared their first. Balotelli, who only touched the ball once in the second half, was yanked away for Rickie Lambert, for whom the Liverpool experience seems not to have followed the fairytale plotline manacled to it when he signed last summer. For all that, he’s a proven Premier League striker and if Liverpool don’t want to use him after buying him, he’s the kind of player that would fit in nicely at the KC, albeit at 33, for the short term.

The City sub was Gastón Ramírez, on for the tireless Stephen Quinn. Liverpool shoved men further forward as the last knockings of the match emerged. Adam Lallana, who is a genuine talent, began to receive the lion’s share of possession after coming on, and his corner was cleared back to him to try an impudent curler with the left foot that, with Harper beaten, blessedly, didn’t quite curl enough.

City responded by withdrawing Aluko, who looks like the chap we had in our team when we first signed him, and bringing on Alex Bruce to play alongside McShane and dish out the necessary controlled brutality and ‘longest kick wins’ entries. It worked. Liam Rosenior then replaced N’Doye to stiffen the resolve even further. City had little problem in clearing what Liverpool laughably passed off as pressure, and on occasional breaks it threatened to become two and safe, like Palace at the weekend. Huddlestone voleyed a Ramírez corner wide and then Ramírez broke two on two but, with no right foot of use beyond standing, couldn’t dig a ball out for the unmarked Rosenior on the left, who would have been free on goal.

Five minutes were added and within it, Coutinho had a shot from distance that Harper pouched with ease, prior to doing that fall to the floor with ball in grasp that keepers do when they know only seconds remain. It seemed to produce quite a cheer, the kind that occurred when Boaz Myhill caught the ball at Wembley in 2008. It had been frantic and nervous, but fantastic. The game was up for Liverpool, the game was won for City.

What a fantastic four days on the pitch we’ve had, after such a rotten, argumentative, desperate period before it. Off the pitch the issues will remain through the final four games of the season, as the issue is now the owner, who has added warped principles and rank hypocrisy to his cretinous ideas. Arsenal feels more like a free hit than before now, even though we clearly have form on our side (and we seriously owe them one, of course), but by the time we play Burnley and then jaunt down to a holidaying Tottenham, maybe our troubles on the pitch will be over for another season and we can get on with the business of removing the toxicity at the top of our club. Our club.

24 replies
  1. Ben Burgess
    Ben Burgess says:

    Classic CTID comment re the Palace game. You cant possibly be a true City fan unless you agree with them. Absolute joke. Surely chants of Bruce out would be appropriate at the remaining games now he has come out and backed the Chairman!?

  2. richard pearson
    richard pearson says:

    Super report, thanks. A great night and for one ageing fan even my heart was nearly having a heart attack! About Ferriby: “Look North” reported on the sad resignation of the Chairman, Mr Hare and then noted “the owners have said etc. etc. its the.” What’s wrong with saying Allams and why not an interview with same – a bit of investigative interrogation a la Paxman? Has this family bought the local media too? Great to see the KC greet the lads from NFU, so well deserved and deserving of better treatment by “the owners”. Can’t these people understand that money buys ‘things’ not ‘hearts’ and just because you splash cash around your neighbourhood doesn’t mean you OWN it! Heroes to zeros!

  3. gjhdurham
    gjhdurham says:

    Yippee…doo! Really owe Arsenal one, and no better time to get on the brink of safety! Well done the lads…the Irish bunch are really getting stuck in!! Same again Monday! Onward & upward! COYH!

  4. John from Brid
    John from Brid says:

    Great game, agree with comment two it was heartstopping stuff last 10 minutes or so knowing city’s ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Did I see Henderson launch the ball at Brady’s head, should have been a yellow, very disrespectful. Hope kit man got a bollocking for sending N’Doye out with Hernandez shirt on, Probert noticed that pity he didn’t notice some of the underhand Liverpool tactics. Aluko man of the match for me, ran himself ragged for the team.

  5. nahnah
    nahnah says:

    With the benefit of TV replays, I noticed that Tom kicked Balotelli up the arse in the early challenge, hence the reaction, but as you say, he almost didn’t want to know after that. Great to see the obvious emotion from the players at the final whistle, hopefully they’re all still up for the fight.

  6. Rottenborough
    Rottenborough says:

    Ben Burgess – whether or not true City fans agree with CTID doesn’t matter.

    Have you not heard?

    The Allams told the FA that fans’ views are irrelevant.

    Presumably you’re happy with that.

  7. Rottenborough
    Rottenborough says:

    Just a further thought.

    If fans’ views are irrelevant, why did the Allams conduct their poll of season ticket holders last year?

    Hoist.

    Petard.

  8. Ben Burgess
    Ben Burgess says:

    I am no great supporter of Allam or otherwise and neither do I support the name change. No issue with the 1904 chants. People make their own mind up and are entitled to let the owner know their thoughts. I have an issue with the ridiculous Allam out chants. The club owes him £70m so clearly he will not walk away, why would he. He has said he will sell but no one would buy. The risk is that he is forced to walk away. Consider the Blackpool situation- he could take next years Sky money sell all the marketable players and in effect asset strip to get his loans repaid. Just consider some of our previous Chairman.
    Whether his investment is by loan or as capital is irrelevant, he has put the money in to initially save the club and then take it forward to a level way above where it has ever been. Duffen and Bartlett had stripped the club bare and it faced liquidation. We would in all likelihood have been a Portsmouth now- surely no one would have wanted that. Just get behind the team for the rest of the season. If you feel that strongly dont go next season. The anti Allam brigade whether you like it or not is a very small minority of the 20000 regulars as evidenced by the number who join in the chants.

  9. Dr Seuss
    Dr Seuss says:

    Great report and great game ( well, great result anyway). Worried before the game as I knew anti-Allam chants would be booed by the shallow thinkers but the response was, as the report said, fairly tepid. The twat behind me didn’t boo like he had at the West Ham game so maybe, just maybe the penny is finally beginning to drop with the “blinded by money/premiership” crowd that having someone like the good Doctor at the helm of a community asset is not really that sensible if you want to keep it. Re: North Ferriby Utd, Airco etc. Totally agree with last part of comment 2. And of course Rottenborough puts the whole Allam “gift to the community” shite into perspective.

  10. Ben Burgess
    Ben Burgess says:

    Were the anti Allam chants not also “fairly tepid”? Maybe 500 people max on a ho e crows of 24000? Most people fortunately have their views but can see the bigger picture!

  11. Ambertigerfan
    Ambertigerfan says:

    Harper looked the antithesis of McGregor: confident, error free, exuded safeness to his defense, didn’t parry the ball to the opposition to score.

    Peter Shilton played into his 40s, why not Harper? Goalies can play into a longer career. Confidence starts at the back and seeps forward; I believe that is the effect what we are seeing with City now. (Oh, and also the threat of a 50% pay cut).

  12. Rottenborough
    Rottenborough says:

    Don’t know about anyone else but I am heartily tired of being told that voicing opposition to Allam’s behaviour equates to;

    (a) inability to see “the bigger picture”; and

    (b) somehow undermining/not supporting the team.

    One aspect of a bigger picture is illustrated by Ben Burgess in his comments above. Another, in my view more important aspect of that picture, is developed in all the reasons given for opposing what the Allams are trying to do.

    A future with Allam as owner, continuing his despicable and insulting behaviour, is not something I can contemplate under any circumstances. I believe many others feel the same way and I don’t accept we are a tiny minority. I would add that if there was no chanting/singing from this “minority” the KC would resemble more the atmosphere of a classical orchestral concert than a blood and thunder football ground.

    As for undermining the team, what utter rubbish. The players are encouraged, not demotivated, by the noise the fans make. That’s a tradition in football. Some people appear to be ignorant of that fact. The way the players went over to the fans at C Palace illustrates the true picture.

    Final point Ben. Allam does what he wants, no matter what anyone else says or does. If you expect us to believe he can be driven away by shouts of ” Allam out” you will be sorely disappointed.

    Go and sit in silence and trepidation of relegation if you want. That’s your right – but it ‘ain’t football.

  13. Dr Seuss
    Dr Seuss says:

    Re point 10.

    Sorry Ben but I’ve said on this site before that I don’t chant – throat issues medically related to age – but I sit in the “silent West Stand Upper” and I have sat there since it opened and no one in any of the seats in my row or in front of me support Dr Allam and yes we do talk to each other because we’ve all sat together long enough. None of us chant sorry to say BUT if there’s talk about a silent majority then don’t be misled by their silence that it supports the Allams. Of course I’m not silly enough to assume that all the people who don’t chant believe that the Allams are wonderful but if you want to do that, go for it.

  14. Ben Burgess
    Ben Burgess says:

    I just think that the whole point is that we all support City. I have had a season ticket for over 40 years and have followed City all over in the lower divisions….less so these days. Whatever the clubs “tv” or “brand” name we will always be City. I am neither pro Allam or anti Allam and sit in the East Stand (and by no means in silent contemplation). He will not be forced out though! Supporters will always have their say and rightly so bit they do not have a say when it comes to the key decisions and certainly not when the club is in the PL. If you want to support a community club then that equates to lower league/non league football. Allam has made mistakes and his PR is shocking but I would not swap the last few years…..promotion, FA Cup semi final and final and Europe. Never thought I would travel away to see City in Europe!

  15. Rottenborough
    Rottenborough says:

    We all have to draw our own line in the sand Ben.

    Whilst you may not yet have done so, I and many others have – and Allam continues to go way beyond it.

    The worst thing Allam has done is to drive a wedge between the fans.He will not be forgiven for doing so.

    I don’t believe he does not understand what he has done, but even if he doesn’t it changes nothing because he doesn’t care about football, or football fans, or Hull City’s fans.

  16. hullk
    hullk says:

    Nice report overall, I think a little more could have been said about Harper’s excellent reflex stop from Henderson’s snap-volley and the ol’ Beckham/Scholes corner routine from Gaston and Tom was mighty close, showing a real return to confidence for the big sod.

  17. JohnK
    JohnK says:

    I am not going to comment on the great Allam debate, it see’s enough column inches between supporters for my liking. I do think though there is a much wider issue which relates back to the Allam’s.
    Let’s face it the football industry is a mess and whoever you support, your support is given little respect by the people that run the sport. The reason for this of course is that fans attending games are no longer the main source of revenue. It’s all about the TV deal and the global merchandise opportunities.
    The PL is not an even playing field, in fact if you consider that sport is so supposed to be fair, then PL football is becoming the antithesis of this.
    I am sick of hearing about 21 year olds turning down enormous contracts, sick of reading about transfer fees running into the tens of millions, and sick of the exclusive club of the so called top 4 that seem to have the ability to dictate just about everything.
    Even in the US, which has an endemic culture of “haves and have not’s”, there is a draft system that provides first pick of the potential best players to the weakest teams from the previous season. When it comes to sport they understand the need for a level playing field, even when the sports are awash with TV money and financial spin offs.
    So while I understand that supporters of individual clubs want to protest at what they feel are the wrongs of their individual owners, is it not right that supporters from across the PL should protest as one against the inequality and inadequacies of the PL as whole. Liverpool fans on Tuesday night had a stab at this, their stay away protest at the KC was replicated at other related venues at the same time.
    This is a big subject but for whatever the inadequacies of Allam, may be he has unfortunately just become another cog in a much wider and bigger problem and in fact the system that he is part of supports his behavior, directly and indirectly. Perhaps he takes the view that if you can’t beat them join them and maybe he is pushing the envelope, but he is not the only one and while he might have joined the bandwagon it had already started rolling long before he came along.
    The strange thing is of course that out of the dismal and dingy world that is called the business of PL football, comes along results that excite the mind and warm the heart. Hull City beating Liverpool at home for the second consecutive season and actually taking 4 points off them home and away during this campaign. 11 players in Hull City shirts taking to the field of play and doing what we all want them to do, play with passion, commitment and a great will to win. Of as much delight was seeing their own reaction at the final whistle, smiles, hugging and high fives all round. It certainly means something to them and for the times that we think it might not we forgive them because if anything they are also caught up in this unequal rat race that is called PL football.

  18. Bill Carson
    Bill Carson says:

    http://www.hulldailymail.co.uk/Hull-City-owner-Ehab-Allam-defends-stance-Away/story-26412456-detail/story.html
    Whether you like it or not, it appears that the Allams may have spent the £200,000 correctly. Like other fans I was hoping for free travel to Spurs, but this is purely selfish, whereas what he has done is allegedly for a greater good.
    Again poor PR as this should have been proposed to the fans at the outset.
    The Allams certainly lack PR skills and much of the issues could so easily have been remedied.
    However when Steve Bruce is concerned about the Allam Out chants, surely this can wait, al least until we’re safe?
    Like Burnsie said in an ideal world I’d like to see CTID and The Allams sit down, sort this out and everyone shake hands and move on.
    Both sides have become entrenched and this looks impossible.
    Real shame because these are the greatest days ever for being a City supporter.
    38 points should do it and surely we have all the motivation in the World to stop smug Arsenal!
    #UTT

  19. Bill Carson
    Bill Carson says:

    Has the name changed Paul ? :-)
    JohnK makes some good points about the wider issues within football.
    The number one issue being ticket prices!
    We should be getting at least a 6% discount next season not a 6% increase.

  20. Paul
    Paul says:

    No the number one issue is our football club continuing and not being replaced by a new franchise.

    Again who are CTID?

  21. Bill Carson
    Bill Carson says:

    Paul – CTID CTWD HCST? All the same thing.
    Name change after name change.
    We’re not a franchise, but could be if bought by an American / Russian or Arab.
    With our history on Owners who knows what we might end up with.
    Ticket prices are forcing many fans out of the game. £572 (when ManCity, Villa, Stoke and West Ham are half that is ridiculous.
    Another 6% next year abd £572 takes it to circa £610

  22. Paul
    Paul says:

    In renaming out club in that way we would indeed be a “franchise” similar to MK Dons as Hull City would cease to exist, as what happened to Wimbledon. Yes ticket prices stink, I cannot justify the new increase to £600+, £750+ with my daughters ticket, same as my friend and his daughter so 4 passes gone there next season, not sure why I justified it this year, but hey ho.

    So the difference between Russian/American/Arab/Egyptian/Sports Direct owner is what exactly? I haven’t heard Abramovich abusing his own supporters, or spending ASI money on his own stadium?

    And yes it was CTWD (no I in there!)

    Allam sat down with all fans groups and openly lied, as he and his son continue to do.

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