FEAT-POD

PODCAST: (Not) toss on toast

One defeat in nine, fourth in the form table, heady days to be a City fan!

Geoff Bielby is our illustrious guest on the podcast this week, detailing the HCST’s involvement in recent takeover talks, as well as his own view on the current side.

It’s our last one until 2019, so thanks ever so much for listening and watching over the last 12 months.

All yours…

 

FEAT-TWTWT

Things We Think We Think #320

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1. It wasn’t pretty to watch, and a -5 windchill rendered it a physically uncomfortable afternoon for the hardy souls in attendance, but there was a soul satisfyingly warm glow deep inside those fans filing away from the Circle after seeing City record a routine (for City anyway) victory that stretched the unbeaten run to four games and catapulted us to SEVENTEENTH in the Championship.

2. There wasn’t much finesse to Kamil Grosicki’s assist or to Fraizer Campbell’s bundled finish for the first goal, but the ball that precipitated those actions, an on the swivel, arcing pass into the path of the Polish winger by Markus ‘Superbus’ Henriksen, was a flash of loin-stirring sexball.

3. Fraizer Campbell was in the right place at the right time for his and City’s second goal too, slotting home after Brentford keeper Bentley could only parry Grosicki’s shot. With eight goals to his name this season, Campbell seems to have become a bonafide ‘fox in the box’.

4. It’s not unusual for a goalscorer to take the man of the match award, and Campbell netted twice, so we don’t begrudge him the block of vinyl or whatever it is that men of the matches get now, but Tommy Elphick’s performance was more deserving of recognition.

5. It is, at the moment, time to pause the praise-qualifiers on the job Nigel Adkins has done of late. City were very recently four points adrift of safety; we’re now five clear of the bottom three. That’s an incredible turnaround that we simply didn’t see happening. City are in a terrific run of form, one that’s transformed the season. We remain in obvious danger and there are sure to be bad spells later in the season that may imperil us, however recent weeks give us genuine cause to believe that it could be okay. Well done Nigel Adkins.

6. As City find some form, the gate figures are getting smaller. 10,530 represents the the lowest attendance for a league game at our current home, and we know that in reality the actual attendance was in four figures. The televised visit of Swansea offers the possibility of an even smaller number and it’s dispiriting stuff.

7. City have acknowledged the problem by announcing further discounts for match card holders, but the club still stubbornly refuse to re-introduce concessions despite criticism from the Premier League, the Independent Football Ombudsman, the Football Supporters Federation, and of course fans of Hull City. The membership scheme is an unmitigated failure and must follow the Allams into the dustbin of club history.

8. People have the right to lawfully express themselves how they like at a football match, and if people wished to boo Moses Odubajo on his return to Hull then so be it. Does he deserve it though? We’re not convinced. He wanted away? Well so did Kamil Grosicki on the last transfer deadline day, spending it in Turkey trying to secure a move, and yet some of those scolding Odubajo were in the next breath cheering Grosicki. Sure, we paid Odubajo’s wages while he was injured, but that’s merely fulfilling a contractual obligation, not doing someone who suffered an industrial injury a favour. Oh and if you’re going to shout the pejorative ‘greedy bastard’ at Odubajo, then it’s time to give up shouting the same thing at Fraizer Campbell in the pretence that it is hilariously ironic and somehow honorific.

9. All we want for Christmas is new owners, but it’s looking increasingly likely that we’ll still have the gruesome incumbents in place when the calendar says 2019. Ugh.

10. “Looking at alternative options” [to the Duffen fronted bid] was how the Hull Daily Mail described the Allams approach to leaving. One option that hasn’t been talked about much since it was first announced is the crypto-currency funded initiative backed by the Supporters Trust. Geoff Bielby of the HCST joins us on the broadcast-live Amber Nectar podcast this evening to tell us more about that approach and what unclassified information he has on the Duffen deal. We’re aiming for a 7pm start, you can watch live on Periscope via a Twitter link, or later on YouTube, with the audio only version available to download on Tuesday morning.

FEAT-POD

PODCAST: Dossena’s rectal dismay

Our cup runneth over with one defeat in seven games, no? So, in buoyant mood, we’ll discuss…

* The point at Millwall

* Brandon Fleming’s full debut

* Actual home attendances

* Cup tie moved to Sunday

* Drawing at Liverpool a decade ago

Here y’are…

FEAT-TWTWT

Things We Think We Think #319

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1. Another away game, another addition to our points haul. The 2-2 draw at Millwall wasn’t as impressive as the previous weekend’s 3-2 win at QPR – not even close, really, either in terms of the outcome or the result. But it’s another point, gleaned in trying conditions to deny relegation rivals what would have been a painful victory. We have to be glad about that.

2. It all looked so promising early in the game. City started rapidly and took a deserved lead, and at that stage it looked as though another win in the capital was on the cards. It’s a real pity City didn’t score what could have been a decisive second during this period.

3. However, when Millwall levelled, we ended up hanging on for half-time, and the third quarter of the game was frankly awful. That Millwall didn’t make the game safe explains why they’re also in trouble, because they had ample opportunity to do so. City were probably as poor as at any time this season between the 46th and 70th minute, and the sheer extent to which we were second best was frightening.

4. Then an equaliser was burgled, and after that neither side really showed enough conviction to suggest they’d end up winning. Overall, City’s claim to deserve a point is a little optimistic, but we’re not too bothered about that. We got the draw, even if troublingly lengthy spells of the game saw us chasing shadows.

4a. Millwall playing music after their goals was quite something. It’s like discovering that Gripper Stebson used Roland’s stolen dinner money to buy a flower press.

5. What a valuable point it is. We’re now a useful three ahead of the bottom three, and that equaliser ensured that Millwall are kept at bay rather than overtaking us. 21 points from 21 games and 19th is probably about as good as this appallingly depleted squad can do at the moment; if we have a decent return over Christmas, it’s possible that we’ll start 2019 in a handy position to avoid relegation. And if the Allam nightmare is finally curtailed and some investment made in the squad…

6. Brandon Fleming made his first League start for City on Saturday, and it must have been a day to remember for the young man. Being outjumped for Millwall’s equaliser must have been a chastening moment, but he didn’t let that unduly unsettle him. He can be proud of his afternoon’s work, and can probably look forward to more first-team action this season.

7. What a deeply dispiriting FA Cup draw. While we always crave a tick ground, at least playing someone from a different division – be it lower or higher – makes for an interesting occasion. Having a second trip to Millwall inside a month is the direct opposite of good. We can’t even pretend it’s good from the standpoint of progressing in the tournament, as home advantage alone will ensure Millwall are favourites to make Round 4. Bah, bah and thrice bah.

8. Nigel Adkins made it to a year in charge through the week. It hasn’t been a year of limitless glory, but instead has seen one relegation battle (successful) segue inevitably into another (barely surviving). Not much of that is his fault, and City’s recent run of good form has helped to establish a sneaking regard for him. He isn’t what we want in the long term. However, he’s giving himself a chance of extending that spell. Par for this season is probably 21st, given the appalling handicap his bosses are inflicting upon him. That City have a good chance of making that is no mean feat. A begrudging tip of the cap.

9. There’s been a lot of conjecture about City’s attendances this season. It’s universally believed that we’ve already had a first ever sub-10,000 League gate at the Circle this season, though the club continue to publish figures that claim we are yet to dip below 11,420 this season. Well, courtesy of a Freedom of Information request to the local authorities, we’ve been passed an official attendance for this season.

10. On 20th October 2018, 9,837 attended City v Preston. A four-figure attendance. City preposterously claimed 12,066 that afternoon, an inflation of the true figure by some 22%. That’s consistent with last season, where the club routinely added a fifth to the true attendances. And that wasn’t even our lowest this season. 11,420 allegedly made it to City v Norwich. Except, they clearly didn’t. Take off a fifth, then perhaps a few hundred more because of the shocking weather, and we’re possibly into the 8,000s. We’re not far from the ground being one-third full. For second tier League matches. What a depressing state of affairs.

FEATmatch

REPORT: Millwall 2 City 2

AdkinsN2Another Saturday, another trip to the capital. It wasn’t to prove to be as euphoric as the weekend prior, but the feeling upon leaving the New Den – which does music after goals – was one of satisfaction.

The reasons for this were many. A late(ish) equaliser, a makeshift starting XI (including a full debut for the impressive Brandon Fleming), a feeling that things on the pitch might not be so bad after all, even if our off-pitch dreams are being dashed as every day without a sale passes.

City lined up with Marshall in goal, Kane at right-back, Fleming at left-back, Elphick and De Wijs the centre-backs, Henriksen and Batty just in from of them, Grosicki on the left, Bowen on the right, Irvine advancing from midfield and Campbell up front on his todd. Millwall’s sole tactic early on seemed to be to try to exploit Fleming’s nerves, but the young man coped admirably, looking the part from the off. Bowen and Grosicki tore into the Lions, and it was the two of them who combined to put City ahead on six minutes. A cross from the right seemed to have come to nothing. However, a clearance landed at Bowen’s feet. And when the ball is at Bowen’s feet, good things invariably happen. He put in a delicious pass – the type that looks deceptively simple but few can execute properly – from the edge of the D into the run of Grosicki. The Pole had a touch and twatted it in inside Archer’s near post from about eight yards. The game was young but the goal was deserved.

And we continued in that vein for the next 20 minutes or so. Batty and Henriksen owned the midfield. Campbell worked tirelessly up front. Bowen and Grosicki tormented their full-backs. Somewhat pleasingly for those of us who attended the 4-0 destruction in Nigel Pearson’s early days, Jordy De Wijs – in one of his better games – was happily handing out a bit of a battering to Steve Morison. As with Loftus Road a week earlier, the game’s second goal only looked likely to come from City. Then Millwall scored.

Meredith broke down their left, was allowed to get his cross in with too much ease, the ball floated over Marshall for Gregory to tower over Fleming to level the match. Then came the goal music. Millwall – the team of Barry Kitchener, Tom Wilson, Terry Hurlock, Harry Cripps – has music after goals. FFS.

Then Millwall gained the ascendancy. No major chances, but they had our number. Elphick and De Wijs stood strong for the most part, and Kane got in some pleasing challenges but all told when the half-time whistle was blown, we were happy to get in at 1-1.

Then came the massacre. Millwall spent the next 25 minutes battering us. Absolutely destroying us. De Wijs cleared the ball off the line quite magnificently. Campbell did the same not long after, though his task was easier. They’d out-thought us, were outbattling us. We couldn’t keep possession. All we had was long, high balls up to Fraizer Campbell, who battled on gamely. Only when the ball was with Bowen did we get any respite. What a talent he is. Enjoy him while you can. If he’s still a Hull City player come Valentine’s Day I’ll be both surprised and delighted. Anyway, Millwall got the goal their dominance warranted on 54 minutes when Morison fed O’Brien, who was given the freedom of the pitch by Kane to smash home from about 25 yards into the bottom left-hand corner. There was only one winner after that. We had nothing. We couldn’t lay a finger on them. A third goal for the home side was a matter of when, not if. Our possession retention was pathetic. But our defence, however makeshift or maligned it may be, stood strong.

Millwall showed no sign of relenting when City won a corner thanks to hard work from Bowen and Campbell in the 73rd minute. Millwall’s set-pieces had been threatening, ours had almost all been overhit. However, this one found the head of De Wijs, who looped the ball goalwards. On the line – probably offside – was Henriksen, who capped a good shift by reacting quicker than the two defenders in close proximity to nod home. No music, just manic celebrations from a commendably vociferous away crowd.

Suddenly Millwall looked scared. A game that they couldn’t possibly lose was now losable. They looked less assured on the ball, while City – led magnificently by the hard-working Campbell – attacked with more vigour. Martin replaced Batty, Stewart came on for Groscki, but still we held the slight ascendancy. De Wijs picked up one injury too many and couldn’t complete what had been a fine game for the Dutchman. He was replaced by Mazuch. Could the Czech see out the last 10 minutes without getting injured, getting sent-off or giving away a needless penalty? Dear reader, he could!

Neither side looked likely to find a winner, and none was found. This was, without doubt, a point gained in a match in which we saw the best and worst of Nigel Adkins’ Hull City. But for the first time this season, when perusing the table on the way home, I allowed myself a glance at the teams above us, rather than fretting about the form of those below us. For that, Nigel deserves credit. We just need to bring this form and goalscoring prowess to the atmosphere-less KCOM now. That will be the acid test.

Richard Gardham (via Tiger Chat)

FEAT-POD

PODCAST: QPR, Millwall….and Millwall again

Buoyed by the win at QPR while sneering at a rubbish FA Cup draw. Proper podcast, this.

* Tremendous victory at Loftus Road
* Markus Henriksen’s special goal
* The heady heights of 19th
* Live reaction to the FA Cup draw
* Beating Middlesbrough ten years ago

FEAT-FACUP

City draw Millwall in the Cup

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The Football Association Challenge Cup has reached the stage where it incorporates City and other top-two-tier teams – but it doesn’t seem especially pleased to see us, vomiting an away tie at Millwall in our direction.

As draws go, being obliged to travel to a club in the same division as you is decidedly uninspiring, particularly when that same fixture is your next League game. There’s frankly nothing in the tie to engender any remote sense of excitement.

It’ll be our first meeting in the FA Cup with Millwall since City – then of the Premier League – flicked aside the Londoners in a match scarred by crowd trouble in 2009, and it’ll be the first time we’ve ever played them in the competition in the capital.

The tie will be played on the weekend of Saturday 5th January.

FEATmatch

REPORT: QPR 2 City 3

Hull City's Jarrod Bowen celebrates his goal

Twenty years is a long time.  It’s almost half my life ago.

Twenty years ago, City were about to have one of the rare highlights in the extremely depressing first half to a season.

As supporters we’d seen the back of Needler and Fish running the club into the ground as the family owning the club looked to reclaim their investment in the club.  Thankfully those days are over.  Oh, wait a minute…

As supporters we’d seen the back of David Lloyd running the club, where he frequently attacked supporters every time he didn’t get his own way.  Thankfully those days are over.  Oh, wait a minute…

As supporters we’d seen the new regime of Belton and Buchanan (with the mysterious Hinchcliffe lurking in the background) take over the club stuck rock bottom of the league.  They’d removed former England international Mark Hateley as manager and had a young caretaker manager in Warren Joyce take over.  But the club were in desperate trouble.  A trip to Luton in the FA Cup second round gave a small highlight with young Ken Morley and a towering Master Butcher header giving the travelling support a rare opportunity to cheer their side.

Moving twenty years on and City travel to QPR.  QPR have had a reasonable run of form of late, so the most optimistic City fan would have felt a tinge of apprehension in hoping of coming away from Loftus Road with three points.

Lining up for City
Marshall
Kane Elphick Burke Lichaj
Henriksen Batty
Bowen Irvine Grosicki
Campbell

City started the game very much on the front foot and delighted the travelling fans taking the lead in the fifth minute.  A long ball finds Campbell who passes right to Bowen.  He cuts inside before his shot from the edge of the area passes Lumley and nestles into the back of the net

It was suspected that we’d also experience quite a lenient referee for the afternoon as a high City boot appears to catch QPR’s Leistner near the edge of our area, but referee Simpson plays on.

Burke is soon down for lengthy treatment with the match barely 15 minutes old after a high challenge, but the young centre back manages to last until the half time break.

On the 21st minute, City’s afternoon looks even better.  Bowen wins a corner with his direct running at the home defence.  The whipped in ball sees Campbell go for the header which seems to wrong foot the entire QPR defence, offering Henricksen the space to score.

Within a minute, however, QPR are back in the game.  The wonderfully named Angel Rangle, whose running up the right caused the City defence plenty of problems all afternoon, advanced before a low cross to Wszolek tapping past Marshall.

Throughout the afternoon City appeared to be using a rather effective tactic.  Basically, all City players looked to pass to Grosicki who would then run at the home defence.  Kamil in return would always look to pass to Campbell, thus seeing quite an effective partnership forming in our two attacking players.

At the other end of the pitch, QPR are imposing themselves more on the game, but City’s Custodian of the Leather produces several fine saves to keep the home team out.  When they do find a way past, the ball crashes off the woodwork.

Following his earlier injury, Burke is replaced at half time by de Wijs with Lichaj also withdrawn in favour of McKenzie.

Henriksen’s really becoming a battling midfielder in the centre of the park.  Okay so he’s no Ian Ashbee but does show much greater aggression that when he first joined the club.  Partnering Batty the two do provide an effective screen for the defence and allow the attacking 4 a foundation to build attacks.  Perhaps it was harsh on Stewart after his Norwich showing to find himself back on the bench, but Henriksen and Batty are proving to be the first-choice central midfield pairing.

QPR are getting much more of the play in the opening 20 minutes of the second half with Eze particularly guilty of spurning chances to get the home side back level.

Not long after QPR replace Cameron with Hemed, the Tigers further extend the lead.  Bowen robs a QPR midfielder before playing a 1-2 with Campbell.  His shot is well saved by Lumley, but before the keeper can collect the loose ball, Bowen’s back up and stroking the ball home.

Batty’s the first to see his name taken by the ref.  Contrary to my earlier suggestion that the referee seemed lenient, this booking appeared very harsh, having just challenged for a loose ball.

Trying to protect the 2-goal lead, Adkins withdraws Grosicki in favour of Mazuch.  At the same time QPR withdraw Rangel in favour of Smith.

Within ten minutes of the change, Mazuch still isn’t injured, so possibly clocking up a record for his season so far.

Soon after QPR replace Wszolek with Osayi-Samuel, Lynch is the next to see his name in the referee’s book.  Bowen, running up the right is felled by Lynch, with the two players ending up head to head.  As Lynch was very much the aggressor (Bowen appeared to just laugh in his face for his efforts), the card is brandished in his direction.

After 4 minutes of time are added on, QPR get a goal back.  A cross into the area sees several players diving in at the ball from either side before Freeman pokes it over the line to set up a very nervy last few minutes.  The nerves in the away end are not helped as soon afterwards the referee awards QPR a free kick on the edge of the area, fortunately Freeman’s shot is narrowly wide of the top corner.

So just like twenty years ago, City are having a bright spell in the first half of a season of struggle.  This time the bright spot seems us move out of the bottom three to the heady heights of 19th.  But unlike 20 years ago, I don’t think the club will be investing in a second-hand bus any time soon.

James Lockwood (via Tiger Chat)

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Things We Think We Think #318

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1. The point against Norwich was both surprising and welcome. Just three days after an emphatic home defeat, the chances of anything good happening against the free-scoring lead leaders appeared remote. Yet with a performance of honest endeavour (and a bit of fortune arriving via an off-colour Norwich and the levelling effect of the shocking weather) City churned out a point that their efforts deserved. The quality was low, but we’ve come to expect that. So diminished are our hopes that simply grinding out a goalless draw at home constituted a good evening.

2. A good evening in particular was enjoyed by Kevin Stewart. His City career has been a huge disappointment, and his enduring underachievement has produced justified despair – certainly too much for one game to wipe away its memory. But, for one match alone, credit where it’s due: Stewart produced a flinty midfield performance, with jagged interventions that made life hard for his Norwich adversaries. He did little on the ball, but then again he (in common with his teammates) didn’t see it often. But he shored up a midfield that was comically lightweight three days earlier. More, please. A lot more.

3. The atmosphere against Norwich was a surreal one. Even allowing for their lofty league position, the visitors brought an impressive contingent, but they ended up being as subdued as their team. With surely fewer than 9,000 souls in attendance on the bleakest of late-autumn evenings, it left the occasion feeling like a tie in the early stages of the League Cup. Sure, as City’s prospects of gaining an unlikely point increased, a defiant throatiness began to develop as the previously cold, wet and fed-up City fans become more engaged in their side’s dogged effort. But the vast swathes of empty seats in a ground barely one-third full spoke loudest of all.

4. But hey, QPR! That wasn’t remotely anticipated. To travel to one of the division’s more on-form sides, snaffle three goals and three points – well, we’d be despairing if a relegation rival unexpectedly did that. For City to do it was deliciously surprising. And well-deserved too. City were an authentic attacking threat all afternoon, gamely survived something of a first-half onslaught when it became 2-1, controlled things nicely when it was 3-1 and didn’t panic (err, too much) when QPR pulled a late one back. Well done lads.

5. And yes, well done Nigel Adkins too. Four points from those two games is a superb return, probably three more than we could have realistically hoped for. With 11 points from 6 games, this is actually a legitimate run of form (even if the Forest match was so awful it’s rather tainted things). We don’t have the size or the squad to maintain this automatic promotion form, but the fact we’ve fleetingly achieved it is quite something. Adkins will probably never be our cup of Darjeeling, but if he gets brickbats when we’re 23rd, he needs acknowledgement when we aren’t.

6. Like astronauts peering through the windows of the International Space Station upon the turning globe below, we marvel at the dizzy heights of NINETEENTH place in the Championship. It’s a position that hardly felt likely after the Forest faux-pas, and we know that we are but two points from 23rd and could slip back into the relegation zone soon, but for now let us take time to acclimatise and gaze upwards: A win next week and defeats elsewhere could see us in 16th place. Stellar stuff!

7. What – if anything – are to make of the disparity between City’s home and away form? Over half of our points have now arrived on the road, and if only away points were counted City would be nestled nicely in 15th. However, only two sides have obtained fewer points at home, and only two other sides join us in having more points away than at home. It may be that the ghastly experience that is a Hull City home match in late-2018 is dragging the side down, and they’re happier on the road. Or it could just be a small statistical quirk that’ll correct itself.

8. Millwall next. Its importance is obvious from the League table. The losers of this will endure a blow that could easily endure until Christmas, while the winners will enter the festive period confident that the worst may be behind them. It won’t be easy – it never seems to be there – but we have to hope that we don’t return north empty-handed, especially as they’re struggling for form. That may be made easier for Saturday’s result, which has alleviated some of the (immediate) pressure. So we’ll travel in reasonable heart. Probably best not to expect a classic though.

9. Millwall is the first of four successive games against sides in the bottom half. Granted, Swansea and Brentford’s positions may be unexpectedly lowly, but it shows they aren’t the formidable opponents they may have been earlier in the season. While City are doing well, and with plenty of tough assignments left this season, it’s important we take plenty more points this month. It’d lift us a bit clear of the relegation zone and boost morale (as well as making the club more attractive to new signings in January), and we’ll need those points if (okay, when) things get sticky again.

10. The draw for Round 3 of the Football Association Challenge Cup takes place this evening, probably at the same time as the AN podcast will be going out live. Tune in to see our disappointment at drawing Wigan at home instead of Ground Tick FC away.