REPORT: City 1 Sheffield United 0

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Blimey, that was a successful evening for City. And thoroughly enjoyable at that. A lot that’s good about our club was on display. We won too.

This match will be remembered as the one where much of the fanbase —out of deep-rooted feeling for the club and frustration at the way it has been run down and its supporters ignored, insulted, and incited to action— stepped up to the televised plate with that combination of anger and good humour that Hull people can do so well.

That the team managed to craft a win made a big difference. Victory seasoned the evening with celebration, when, had we lost by a hatful, protest could have tipped into bitterness. It put to bed the idea that the determination of supporters to do right by their club off the field somehow stops the team doing well on it. The team win or lose because of the normal stuff like luck, referee’s decisions, managerial choices, and above all, whether they’re better at football than the other lot. That’s it, and the rest is marginal.

But my job here is match reporting. I’ll leave it to others to dissect in detail the ball-throwing, whistling, chanting, and banner-parading. I’ll concentrate on the football. In any case, my East Stand vantage is brilliant for watching the game, whereas it was the North Stand that provided the best spot for the off-field action. And of course the telly gives another perspective of both football and fans.

Polishing up Nigel Adkins’ unbeaten home record as City Head Coach were:

McGregor
Aina             Dawson               McDonald      Clark
Irvine                    Larsson
Bowen           Evandro        Diomande
Dicko

After our confident win at Forest a couple of weeks ago, Adkins had inexplicably messed with personnel and formation for the next league game, at Middlesbrough, by playing three central defenders with advanced wing-backs either side of that central defence. This time he reverted to a back four. The erratic Hector was dropped, as were Tomori, Toral, Campbell, and the injured Keane. Aina played on his favoured right. Max Clark returned as left full-back.

Did you know that Max Clark has played in every one of City’s league wins this season? Admittedly he’s played in plenty of defeats too, but tonight he looked like the increasingly assured player that he is becoming.

Another player coming into his own at the moment is City’s Brazilian midfielder, Evandro Goebel (I love writing ‘City’s Brazilian midfielder’), who opened his account for the club with a sweetly struck shot from a training-ground routine corner at Boro on Tuesday. In a pretty uninspiring first half tonight, it was Evandro who stood out. He’s got skills beyond your standard second division midfield player, and the confidence to receive the ball under pressure, turn his way out of trouble, and take the ball past lunging opponents.

Early doors, as City attacked the North Stand end of the ground on a bitingly cold Hull evening, Evandro received the ball in a crowded penalty area. He managed to make space for the shot, but too close to Blades’ netminder Blackman, and the chance is gone.

Throughout the game, until his substitution, Evandro showed his skill and calm presence. He could turn into an important player for us in the closing months of the season, bringing experience in addition to his ability to keep the ball and find a teammate.

Although having more of the ball than Sheffield, City struggled in the first half to make much of it. There was a cheeky free kick about 35 yards out that looked to be just outside Larsson’s shooting range, but he surprised the opposition by taking it on anyway and curled the ball only just wide of the upright.

Mostly though, we were poor as a team. There was a lot of passing the ball safely around our own half, and back to McGregor, as if we were the away team waiting to play on the break. The trouble was, Sheffield United, as the actual away team, did the same, making for a fairly dull spectacle.
When City did want to go forward, two glaring problems stood out.

First, we kept playing the ball in the air, up towards our non-existent centre forward. Dicko, for all his qualities, is a nippy inside forward not an imposing number nine. And being isolated on his own up front, a quick ball played high from the defence was never going to cut it. Even when he did get near it, the gap between Dicko and the rest of the team was so wide that he could do little with it.

Second, too many of our players have a tendency to work as individuals rather than concentrating on the team. When fans argue that our squad looks too good to be in such relegation danger, they see the individuals, and some good ones at that. But they have to be moulded into a team.

On 15 minutes, Dicko got the ball, for once, at his feet, where he could run at the Sheffield defence. To his left, galloping forward in space were both Bowen and Diomande. But Dicko kept the ball, put his head down, and ran into a cul-de-sac in front of the away fans.

On 20 minutes the match was interrupted by the balls-on-the-pitch protest. On 30 the fairly constant vuvuzela-esque sound of whistles that had accompanied the match from the start, turned into the concerted and planned one-minute whistling protest.

All off-field issues aside, I was beginning to hope that these things would affect the players, so poor were City at that time.

Half-time came. It was 0-0. If it hadn’t have been for the off-field action, that first half would have been entirely unmemorable.

During the interval, I fell to musing about what listening to a Nigel Adkins half-time teamtalk must be like. May be I’ve been reading too much of the @TheNigelBadkins parody Twitter account, but I reckoned it might be quite trying. Full of ‘healthy zen’ and #StayPositive. Not so much the Alex Ferguson hair-dryer treatment, more motivational speaker at a company staff away day?

Well, I reckon I might need to rethink. Because when City eventually came out for the second half, a good few minutes after the Blades, it seemed that there had been more than positivity preached in the home dressing room. The tactics had changed.

All of a sudden, City were playing it more on the ground.. We were less prone to by-passing the midfield. As we attacked the South Stand it would have been easy to look the other way and be distracted by the parade of stewards, followed by a procession of police officers, who lined up in front of the North Stand, backs turned to the game, staring at the home support.

But City were playing better, despite Sheffield —no doubt fresh from having their ears bent by Chris Wilder— having a bit of a go in the first ten minutes. At the back, Angus McDonald, whose reassuring displays are making that coveted number 50 shirt his own, snuffs out a good move by the Blades.

About 10 minutes in, Nouha Dicko finds himself just outside the Sheffield area, back to goal. He swivels and slams a hard shot goalwards, only for Blackman to push it round the post.

From the resulting corner, swung in from the left by Larsson, Sheffield’s defenders struggle to clear the ball and it eventually falls again to Dicko, who wellies it into the net.

We’re actually winning. That goal injects more confidence into the players, may be adding force to the argument that somewhere in that squad of disparate individuals we do have a semi-decent team waiting to be found.

Bowen, who has been relatively quiet so far, bursts into life a little more, making a couple of surging runs, one down each flank. Aina —having one of his skilful and confident games, untroubled by the need to do much serious defending— follows Bowen’s example and manages to get a cross into Diomande, who, as is his wont, can’t get the header right.

Grosicki replaces Diomande. The sort of no brainer preference that leaves me scratching my head as to how we ever started with the Norwegian ahead of the Pole.

Soon after, Kevin Stewart comes on for Dicko, and then Fraizer Campbell comes on for Evandro.

I can’t be bothered to think too deeply about these swaps, because I assume that they stem from what Adkins seems to say about too many of our players, namely, that they can’t manage the full 90.

All I’m thinking about is how City are going to turn a precious lead and three potential points into a draw or even a defeat.. It’s not that I’m a pessimist, just that I’ve watched City a lot this season.

I mutter: ‘Remember, we were one up at Bramall Lane. We lost 4-1.’

Grosicki, the scorer of the worldy that give us that 1-0 lead in Sheffield in November, is looking lively but too often ignored, or not spotted, by teammates. Well, he’s been in and out of the team so much, it’s no wonder they’ve forgotten him.

There is though a lovely little cameo between Larsson and Grosicki, who play a tippy-tappy bit of close passing by the left touchline to bewilder a lunging United player. These two are both harbouring realistic ambitions of playing in the World Cup in a few months time. For now they play for us. It’s a little incongruous.

Talking of cameos, Sheffield bring on Clayton Donaldson, an ex-Tiger who is so ex that his last game for us was a league fixture away at Boston United. Yes kids, Boston United.

It was good to see him. Especially as the Blades now fielded a not-very-sprightly three up top of Donaldson, Billy Sharp, and Leon Clarke; combined age 99.

Even City’s notorious late-goal leaking defence can keep this veteran trio at bay, and we duly saw out the final few minutes plus three added on.

And it’s good to go into the weekend feeling pleased with the team. We can enjoy the rare luxury of sitting back and saying to our relegation rivals, match that.

Then in a few days time, such is the relentless nature of this league, we go again. Another night match. Again taking on Yorkshire rivals. The weather is forecast to be colder still than it was tonight. For all the success of tonight’s events, we’re still a club that has fallen very far, very fast, and is in real danger of plummeting yet further.

But for now, there’s a bit of lively optimism around. Enjoy it.

Ed Bacon (via Tiger Chat)

14 replies
  1. Ben Burgess
    Ben Burgess says:

    Good summary of the game and as you say a really enjoyable evening for once
    However I do think you are looking at the protests through rose tinted spectacles. A march by a small band and frankly embarrassing protests in the ground. The tennis ball thing has been done and the whistle protest was a non event. However biased your view you cannot say that much of the fan base joined in the protests. And as for the morons who wanted to get on the pitch in the second half? It is clear whatever you may think that the “fan base” is still split as evidenced by the comments on the HDM articles which is more representative of the wider fan base than AN. As things stand this club is toxic with fan against fan which is good for no one. Let’s hope the Allams do sell sooner rather than later but I really don’t think these protests will help convince and watching potential buyer that buying City represents a sound investment. I guarantee we won’t get a local buyer with the best interests of the club at heart. It will be an out of town or overseas investor simply looking for a return on their capital!

  2. Bunkers Bull
    Bunkers Bull says:

    Great win and even better protests.

    Shame on supine, dumb cucks who swallow this Project Fear garbage about points deductions etc
    The latest Project Fear scare is ‘Who will want to buy a club with such a rebellious fanbase?’
    The answer is of course ‘Someone who has done some research on the malaise at Hull City and what has caused it.’

    Would we want to be owned by some foreign know nowt who doesn’t have a clue about the club he is buying, and expects subservient passive consumers like the Allams want?!?!?

    It saddens me to see we still have supporters who have noses so far up the Allams’ sphincter, and swallow their simplistic bullying line.

    ‘The club is for sale but no one will buy it’. Yeah, that’s because it’s above the value placed on it by buyers. The Allams deliberately overprice it because it enables them to get the parachute money. They have no desire to sell while they get millions gifted to them by the PL , just like they ave no desire to actually watch us play. They have no passion for the club or the people of Hull, only their own wealth.

    I look forward to more protests in the ground, it’s about the only thing that gets to the deceitful shameless Allams , as a much wider audience learns of their malevolent bullying incompetent antics.

    Friday’s protests were a spectacular success. Sky watchers given the message and on Saturday morning it was mentioned in front of millions of BBC Breakfast watchers with footage.

    Typical dumb Allam apologist thinking to believe it was a flop…..it was a Job Done.

    Bring on the Villa for more of the same.

  3. Ben Burgess
    Ben Burgess says:

    What job done? What did it achieve and again I ask how do you class it as a success. ? Who outside Hull do you think cares less about our “plight”
    Fed up of hearing this Allam apologists bollocks? Most can take a balanced view on the clubs position. Most I accept, myself included would want to see the Allams leave despite the success that they have presided over. Some will always be grateful however for the fact that they saved the club when no one else would have. You clearly enjoy protesting I’d rather just focus on getting behind the team.

  4. haltemprice tiger
    haltemprice tiger says:

    I’d rather focus on getting rid of the Allams. Regardless of which side of the fence you are on, there is no doubt that the club cannot and will not progress until they are gone.

  5. Ambertigerfan
    Ambertigerfan says:

    Ben Burgess: Are you suggesting that no protest is better than a protest?

    Surely you can agree that doing nothing achieves nothing.

    A protest does affect the Allams negatively. The evidence from Ehab Allam is that he doesn’t like the protests. (Cancelled meeting as evidence).

    Fans have a right to protest as you have a right to do nothing, so as long as the protesters don’t demand you join in, what’s the problem? The “Can do” attitude of protesting fans should be applauded as something is better than nothing.

    I’d be inclined to agree that asking price and position of the club are the main reasons for the Allams failing to find a buyer.

  6. Bill Carson
    Bill Carson says:

    The fans pay there money (each month) and have a right to peaceful demonstration.
    We all have different views and opinions but whatever they are we must all agree that for the past 19 months at least, the club has been rudderless, with no investment.
    My concerns differ from other people’s.
    My main concern is the empty stands, brought about by the membership scheme which penalises families, OAPs and the youth,
    Single adults are okay under this scheme.
    I am seriously worried that those negotiating in our name have the commercial know how and toughness to get a good deal for the supporters.
    I see statements about bringing back concessions great but we need a complete review of ticket prices aimed at filling the stands. £20 per month Adults, £10 OAPS and 18-24 and £5 under 18’s. Simple!
    Branding Hull City AFC on all official documentation. Hull City or The Tigers when less formal. Simple.
    Team – Give the players that we need to keep new contracts!
    Restore belief – communicate a clear plan for stability and success or face the prospect of 1,000’s cancelled memberships on the 06th March.
    Sticking Allam Out pins and scarves in front of Ehab is unprofessional and betrays the supporters, who want these issues resolving.

  7. Rottenborough
    Rottenborough says:

    “I’d rather focus on getting behind the team” says Ben Burgess.

    Ben, given that even you admit the Allams need to go, how can urging them to do so not be “getting behind the team”?

  8. Rottenborough
    Rottenborough says:

    Oh, and Ben, given the almighty fuck up the Allams have made over the last two close seasons, the inaction in January and the now expected incompetence in addressing the annual contract situation, the sooner the Allams get out the better, don’t you think?

    What suggestions do you have for encouraging them on their way?

  9. Bunkers Bull
    Bunkers Bull says:

    “What job done? What did it achieve and again I ask how do you class it as a success. ? Who outside Hull do you think cares less about our “plight””

    It was massive success give that its aim was to draw attention of the toxic mess the Allams have caused. It made headlines locally and nationally – to me that spells S-U-C-C-E-S-S.

    Attention was drawn in the media to the situation here and I’d say it went better than the organisers could have hoped for. Special credit to the 2 lads with the black ALLAMS OUT flag who were in the East stand and who got on the pitch at the end as the players were being interviewed.

    No one expected the Allams to roll over and die on Friday night. But if they hoped they could continue to evade scrutiny of their lies, bullying, weasel words, broken promises, contradictory statements, and chronic mismanagement, they (and their dwindling band of gullible apologists) were mistaken. Big time..

  10. HempholmeTigers
    HempholmeTigers says:

    OK I can support the march, chants and even the whistles, but the (small) band of idiots who gathered outside the West Stand entrance (as kids were amongst the fans going in) shouting Ehab’s a w***er and a c**t…no, you did yourselves and the protest no favours at all. Appreciate feelings run high (and I might agree with the sentiments privately – or out of earshot of kids at least )but for me this was the saddest show of the night. Disrespectful to other fans and devaluing the genuine protests.

  11. Jimmy Weekly
    Jimmy Weekly says:

    Anybody want to talk, as the match report almost entirely does, about the football? Friday was a success ‘cos we got 3 points in the fight against relegation. It was patchy, Sheff U were poor, but 3 points is 3 points and City are beginning to pick up wins. Have to admit, I hadn’t realised that Adkins was unbeaten at home so far.

  12. Bill Carson
    Bill Carson says:

    Jimmy – not did I realise we were unbeaten at home.
    We are looking difficult to beat at home, so throw in a fit Abel Hernandez and who knows.
    Forest have just released this offer for their future supporters 2018/19:
    Season tickets:
    £10 for age 4-11  (0.44p per game)
    £50 for age 12-17  (£2.17 per game)
    £100 for age 18-23  (£4.35 per game
    Adults from £330.00

  13. Rich
    Rich says:

    Re those Forest season pass prices for kids, Ehab will just see the opportunity for fraudulent use so no point raising that with him.

  14. Bill Carson
    Bill Carson says:

    Rich – more likely and as he has already hinted, adult prices will go up to compensate.
    My point is that YES of course we want the reintroduction of concessions but I’d demand far more.
    A complete review on pricing, to reflect the league we are in and the way we have been treated.
    A rebate for the who have been overcharged too.
    £20 P/M adults.
    £10 OAP’s and 18-24
    £5 P/M U-18’s
    In addition we want a guarantee of significant squad investment in the summer or a change of ownership.

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