In the last week we had shown the bottle to come back from two down against Norwich and the maturity to go to Ipswich and dominate the game in a n easy win. So why did a trip to Birmingham, stuck in the bottom three on the back of seven successive defeats – fill us with so much trepidation? Because this is Hull City we’re talking about, of course. Patron Saint of gifting three points to those in need.
It snowed on and off all morning without settling but just before kick-off, St. Andrews was battered by wind and snow leaving the pitch white and requiring the use of a yellow ball. Spring is sponsored by Southern Rail this year. It’ll be along at some point.
City reverted to the side that impressed against Norwich last Saturday meaning Hector and Campbell dropped out. Nigel Adkins subs bench bingo meant no place for Nouha Dicko while Jon Toral got a slot.
Aina Dawson Mazuch Clark
Bowen Irvine Wilson
The first half was shambolic. Again. Everyone I said was good last week was useless. It was freezing and City didn’t fancy it one little bit. We were lucky not to be behind early as we lost the ball in midfield and Che Adams went clean through in front of the 1700 City fans but McGregor charged out to save with his left hand. Harry Wilson was taken down by a poor challenge from Wes Harding that earned the right back a booking. It was a clear yellow but not quite a red – but a stupid challenge to make in the conditions. Of course, we didn’t force him to make another tackle all game. And then we were behind. Adams beat Dawson to a ball on their right, raced in behind and crossed for Jota to score. Aina was left in a tight spot by the break but had to choose between closing down the ball or marking in the middle and did neither.
Kieftenbeld shot over after Birmingham passed around us and the snow game down heavily making visibility awful and raising hopes of an abandonment. Our only chance of getting out of St Andrews undefeated. Wilson shot wide powerfully as City got a brief foothold then the useful Craig Gardner was forced off for Cheik Ndoye who we were assured by the blue nose we travelled with is absolutely useless. It’s true, he was. And he was still only the sixth worst midfielder on the pitch.
The five on our side were incapable of stringing two passes together. Every one of them along with both full backs looked terrified of the ball. Birmingham pressed us well, like we did to Norwich last week, but our lack of composure was inexcusable. Aina was appalling. Back to the very worst we’ve seen of him. Henriksen anonymous again. Larsson’s legs looked as old as we feared they were in September. Irvine looked like he’d run three marathons in the last fortnight. Bowen tried to make things happen but ran into trouble. Wilson didn’t fancy another whack.
The only saving grace was that we went in at half time only a goal behind. McGregor saved from Jutkiewiscz after he’d beaten Mazuch easily on the left, pushed away an overhead kick from Adams (after Bowen was dispossessed) and then charged from his goal to save from Adams from the resulting corner – albeit after a blatant push went unpunished. A shot from Kieftenbeld was deflected wide and then they turned Aina inside out and crossed for Jota to head over. Half time. It could have been five.
We made no changes. You can’t blame Adkins. On recent form, his best eleven were on the pitch. I like Che Adams. A lump of a striker but with a turn of pace and a willingness to make runs time and again without reward. He was foiled by the brilliant McGregor three times in the first half but his hard work was rewarded straight after the break when he ran away from Dawson embarrassingly and sent over a cross that flew into the net inside the far post. Needless to say it came from City giving the ball away again.
Michael Dawson has been a top defender but he’s slower than a broken Milk float these days. Is it time to build for next season? I’d say so but with Mazuch being made of glass, Hector ours only temporarily and MacDonald the only player Adkins has singled out for criticism – I don’t see we’ve any choice but to stick with him.
Aina gave Jota the ball to force another save from McGregor before Campbell replaced Irvine. If this was an attempt to go for it, it was rendered pointless within two minutes. A city boot attempting to win a tackle on the edge of the box played Jota through on goal and he finished neatly.. Lovely little player, Jota. I thought we should have been interested last summer when he left Brentford but he was too pricey for Ehab Allam’s new “Buy cheap, ruin, release for free” transfer policy.
The game died right there. There were a load of subs. Toral Replaced Hernández and was by far our best outfield player in his cameo. Grosicki came on for Wilson and may as well not have bothered.
So ended an afternoon of cowardice in the cold. Despite the last forty years telling us the law of “Typical City” meant we’d turn up and lose, it wasn’t any easier to take. Even less so after a scary drive home at two miles an hour in the snow.
The only positive of half our squad leaving in the summer because of poorly managed contracts and too many loan deals is that this team badly needs a major overhaul. Grosicki needs to go for whatever he’s worth these days. Marshall is doomed here so cash in on him too. Coming in, it needs legs and leadership in defence and midfield. It needs brains at right back and pace at left back. It needs options up front rather than four of the same player. And a goalkeeper too I guess.
That’s not a reaction to this game. It’s been obvious for most of the season. But it was driven home on a day when this team showed they’ve no interest in fighting for Hull City.
Rick Skelton (via Tiger Chat)