REPORT: Northampton 1-5 City

What a week we have had. A 6-1 mashing of Kidderminster, a hard-fought 1-0 win over Swansea to go first, and now a 5-1 demolition of Northampton to top the League by four clear points. These are enjoyable days to be a City fan.

Peter Taylor elected to field the same eleven that ground out the tough midweek victory against the Welsh, resisting the temptation to opt for a more defensive midfield by selecting Green ahead of Ashbee. We lined up: Musselwhite; Hinds, Whittle, Delaney, Dawson; Price, Green, Ashbee, Elliott; Allsopp, Burgess. Former Northampton player Forrester had to be content with a place on the substitute’s bench.

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MATCH REPORT: City 2-2 Southend

Well, on the face of it, our first game of the season bore no little resemblance to so many games last season – some inventive attacking, some well-taken goals, some infuriatingly poor defending. But no – let us try to believe it is different this time. A 2-2 draw against Southend is not a championship-winning result, nor was it a championship-winning performance, but there were some real positives.

City began the game missing the injured Appleby and Alexander, fielding: Glennon; Edwards, Strong, Anderson, Smith; Ashbee, Greaves, Green, Williams; Elliot and Dudfield. Immediately we tore into our southern visitors, attacking a sparsely populated away end containing around 300 of the 10,449 crowd. The goal we knew would calm our nerves was always on the cards, and after eight minutes it arrived – a lovely ball from Dudfield sent Green haring towards goal, and his finish from ten yards was impeccable. It set the tone for most of the first half, Green, Elliot and Dudfield combining quite beautifully on occasions. The amber tide was relentless, chance being created at regular intervals, Dudfield and Williams coming close.

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MATCH REPORT: City 0-1 Carlisle

Pathetic. Appalling. Inexcusable. Disgraceful. Unforgivable.

It somehow seems apt to kick off this match report with a few adjectives to describe just what happened at Boothferry Park on January 15th 2002. Because what follows is as grim and depressing as anything the Tiger Nation has had to endure during a bleak decade of following Hull City.

Today, Hull City surrendered their year-long unbeaten home record to a team lying 23rd in the league, without an away win in seven months. Sound bad? There’s more to follow.

Brian Little made the latest in a long line of inexplicable team changes, yet again dropping our best player of the season, Lawrie Dudfield. City at least lined up with a 4-4-2, replacing the idiotic 5-3-2 which guaranteed defeat at Plymouth. Musselwhite; Petty, Edwards, Whittle, Wicks; Whitmore, Sneekes, Beresford, Matthews; Rowe and Alexander was the team. And boy, did they fail. But before launching into a full examination of our failings, a brief synopsis of the match.

City came out, and performed a Celtic-style huddle before the game. It seemed to briefly work, as they immediately took the upper hand, taking total control and fashioning several half-chances. Then after 9 minutes Carlisle got a free-kick on their right and whipped the ball in. Some pathetically poor defending allowed the ball to continue across it’s path across the area, where a completely unmarked Foran neatly tucked it away. The next five minutes saw a vaguely spirited response; the rest of the game was an insult to the 8,526 who had paid good money to watch City.

That’s the match report done, for neither team created any chances of note during the remainder of the game. Even a desperate treble-substitution made sod-all difference. So, having dispensed with the formalities, let’s examine how City fared.

Fucking terrible. They were booed off at half-time, and the full-time reaction was as hostile as anything seen at Boothferry Park in the last ten years. A total absence of passion was primarily at fault. Barring Mike Edwards and Paul Musselwhite, every single player on the pitch was guilty of personal and professional cowardice. Passes were constantly astray, players were failing to meet the ball, the simplest of tackles were shirked, the easiest of tasks repeatedly fucked up by a team that simply did not give a shit.

No doubt Little will defend his players in the press, saying how they tried their hardest and had most of the ball. Well, that’s bollocks. Total shite. Every time City had a decent chance to create anything the players bottled it. It was witless, clueless, passionless – Dolan would have been proud.

The positives? It was only 1-0. Musselwhite pulled of a great save to deny a one-on-one chance midway through the second half, while Edwards made an impressive return to the side, looking eager for the ball and actually appearing to want to win. Everyone else, take note.

The negatives? Too many to mention. The crowd, restless and quite understandably livid as the game progressed, numbered just 8,526. How many of those will return for the home match against Exeter on Saturday is anyone’s guess. If more than 8,000 appear, it’ll be a surprise. Adam Pearson, presumably as furious as anyone by the abject display, held his head in his hands as the attendance was read out. We need to attract more fans, yet spineless shows like that are simply going to drive away the casual supporter. £13 to watch that shower of shite? No chance.

Once Carlisle had scored, against the run of play, the game was up. City had neither the intelligence nor the sheer willpower to reverse the deficit. Almost to a man, they gave up. I have seen many dismal performances watching City over the past ten years or so. The 1-0 defeat at Doncaster remains the worse; the 1-0 home defeat to Kettering in the Cup last season takes second place. The defeat against Carlisle challenged, if not superceded, both games. We were THAT bad. Even the worst of the Dolan years were superior fare to that. City reached a new low against Carlisle, a miserable feeling we thought we’d never experience again.

So, what to do? Simple. Several players should be dropped, with immediate and lasting effect. Matthews, Beresford, Petty and Whitmore were clueless. None should play for City on Saturday. Why the fuck was Dudfield on the bench? He’s been our best player this season – quite why Little dropped him is something only he can fathom. Gary Bradshaw and Matt Bloomer should both be played on Saturday. Both have impressed in the reserves, both appear to show pride in the amber and black shirt they wear.

The second half was pure torture for every single City fan in the ground. Christ only knows what Little said at half-time, but he utterly failed to motivate his side to do anything about the situation they found themselves in. If he cannot get this expensively-assembled side to perform, then he should step aside for someone who can. It was THAT bad. Questioning the manager is not something we do lightly, but such a dereliction of duty by his players merits a severe examination of the state Hull City AFC are in. We never looked remotely like scoring, Beresford in particular wasting possession time after time.

Full-time finally arrived, and the team was subjected to a show of disgust not seen since Hateley’s days. Today, Hull City hit a low point not seen in several years. Urgent action is needed to rescue the season, before even the play-offs are out of reach. Pearson has invested countless thousands into giving us a team we can be proud of. Currently, the manager and particularly the players are betraying his and our faith. If their contracts allowed it, Pearson should fine each and every player a month’s wages, with the proceeds going towards a local charity. Sadly, they’ll no doubt get away with it, which is a travesty. If any of the players are reading this, you should be ashamed of yourselves. Quite how you can look yourselves in the mirror is beyond me. Travelling 700 miles to watch the surrender at Plymouth is bad enough – watching it on our own doorstep against the likes of Carlisle is simply taking the piss. Do the decent thing, and give away your wages, because you’ve not earned them this month. You are not fit to wear those shirts.

MATCH REPORT: Plymouth 1-0 City

City practically handed Plymouth the Division Three championship and damaged their own promotion push with another abject away performance. The Tigers had a chance to cut the Pilgrims 11 point lead over us to a more assailable 8 but conspired to let them increase it to a surely uncatchable 14 points in a spineless and gutless display that just took the piss out of the 600+ Tiger Nationals who made the trek from East Yorkshire to Devon. After filing into the impressively refurbished Home Park, many of them were questioning Brian Little’s sanity when the team sheet was read out, as both wingers, Beresford and Williams, were relegated to the bench leaving a sparsely populated midfield of Greaves, Johnsson and Whitmore. Playing five at the back, Petty, Whittle, Goodison, Holt and a debutant Wicks left City with practically no width on one of the widest pitches in the division, and therefore no service to Alexander and Dudfield.

The plan was obviously to settle for a point, and for the first 15 minutes or so we were resolute as the Greens tested us, but then it all went wrong, the Greens pushed an extra man into midfield and their five washed over our three with ease. Paul Musselwhite denied the improbably named Marino Keith not long before Paul Stoneman took advantage of collective lax defending, heading a flicked on corner kick past a helpless Mussy from close range on 20 minutes. On an unsavoury note, it was quite surprising considering that before the game there was this big song and dance routine during which a Plymouth official gave a twee monologue praising the good behavior of their fans to see a group of them directing Nazi salutes at us when they scored. Fair play to the stewards though, they waited until half time and then hauled out one of the main protagonists of this repulsive act with minimal fuss.

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MATCH REPORT: Kidderminster 3-0 City

Oh shit. Now, apologies for kicking off things with an expletive, but it’s apt – after all, there were enough of them knocking around the away end at Aggborough yesterday. Let’s be honest – this was unforgivable, inexcusable, complete shite. Our club suffered deep shame and embarrassment, brought about by the contemptible showings of the professional footballers employed by Hull City AFC. The following is more a rant than a match report.
Despite consulting a dictionary and a thesaurus, no words exist to adequately describe what happened at Kidderminster. Not even the naughtiest swear words do it justice. Playing badly is one thing; hoisting a white flag and allowing an average Third Division side to take the piss is another.

Committing unmentionable crimes against Hull City’s ever-loyal support were Musselwhite; Holt, Mohan, Goodison, Holt; Sneekes, Johnsson, Greaves, Whitmore, Beresford and Alexander. Of those eleven, Sneekes and Musselwhite emerge with credit. Beresford, Matthews and Dudfield need feel no real shame. The rest ought to be fined a month’s wages, with the proceeds spread around every single person who shelled out to watch that disgrace. Nicky Mohan should simply be sacked, preferably in the centre-circle at the next home game by Brian Little in front of the entire crowd.

Yet the opening minutes gave little indication of what was about to happen. City, playing an absurd and hopelessly ineffectual 4-5-1 formation, had the better of the early play, pushing on well and not allowing Kidderminster to settle on the ball. Greaves, making a return from the serious injury he sustained in the home match against Kiddy in August, harried in midfield, although he didn’t look match-fit and faded badly as the half wore on. Sneekes darted around industriously, the only player willing to tackle, and the only one to understand the not-too-complicated concept of passing the ball to a team-mate. Goodison, captain for the day, was doing plenty of shouting and not much defending. City did fashion an early chance when Alexander scooted away down the right, but his cross to Johnsson was intercepted before our whaling hero could shoot. Sneekes also flashed a shot from distance wide, but the warning signs were becoming ominously clear.

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MATCH REPORT: City 0-0 Southend

Oh, for crying out loud City. How frustrating was that? City’s fifth nil-nil draw of the season, and they deserved nothing more than a point for a numbingly mediocre performance. In a viciously cold wind which sent occasional snow flurries on the lush greensward, City lined up exactly the same way as at Scunthorpe. Although the defensive blunders were largely eradicated (though a better, more ambitious team than Southend might have profited from a couple in the first half), it was the Tigers’ attacking that causes most concern. Attacking Bunkers, City offered very little indeed. Southend’s back four was rugged, well marshalled by porky player-manager Rob Newman in a defensive midfield position. Despite the early switching of wings by Matthews and Beresford, City failed to get behind their opponents once, and the midfield lacked the drive and guile to carve them open. And, err, that was the first half.

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REPORT: City 1-0 Leyton Orient

Despite not being at their best, City edged past Leyton Orient at a packed and sun drenched Ark to give them a great chance of reaching the play off final at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff later this month. A near-capacity crowd of 13310 witnessed a tightly fought semi final first leg between two teams with solid defences.

Ian Goodison, John Whitney, Rob Matthews, Kevin Francis and Gary Brabin returned to the starting eleven having been rested for our final league game at Carlisle. John Eyre, who missed training with back spasms in midweek started on the bench.

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MATCH REPORT: Scunthorpe 0-1 City

It’s a funny old game isn’t it? I mean, considering our wretched showing against Kettering on Tuesday and Scunny’s run of four consecutive wins (including last weeks 6-0 battering of Mansfield), it looked like this Humber derby wasn’t going to much fun didn’t it?

How wrong we were, as Brian Little had clearly put fireworks up the players arses following the cup debacle and the result was a hard fought but nonetheless deserved win over a side I will begrudgingly admit are quite useful.

It all started quite evenly, Theo Whitmore went on a bit of a jaunt and shot narrowly wide, Scunny then had a couple of long range efforts that were comfortably dealt with by Musselwhite. City had a half hearted penalty appeal turned down as the game got going,  a Scunt decided he likes our Avec shirt so much he’d try and steal Clint Marcelle’s, the little fella was tossed to the floor but the referee was unimpressed. It was the type of foul that always get’s a free kick but a penalty for such a transgression in the area would be harsh.

City continued to plug away, Whitmore had a low shot but Evans in the home goal got down well to snuff it out at the second attempt. Whitmore, looking back to his best after a niggling groin injury was fresh after his lay off and he was teasing the Scunts defence a bit, putting some good crosses in. Unfortunately no one in an amber (or mustard with white trim as it is this year) shirt had the nous to get onto them. Not long after a second penalty appeal was waved away, but this was a much stronger claim than before as Tappa was sent unceremoniously crashing to the penalty box turf.

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REPORT: City 0-1 Kettering

City tumbled out of the FA Cup in the first round, beaten 1-0 at home by the bottom club in the Nationwide Conference. The only goal of a dire game came from Matt Fisher in the 57th minute, after being allowed the freedom of Boothferry Park (and most of the surrounding district, had he asked) to fire past Paul Musselwhite from 20 yards. The goal was typical our City’s performance – feeble, lazy and totally unacceptable. In truth, City had had marginally the better of a dour first half. A 35 yard effort from Brabin early on tested Bowling in the Kettering goal, while Greaves wasted a one-on-one after nice play from Philpott. Musselwhite caused a scare after going walkabout outside his area, but Goodison was on hand to mop up the danger in the area. Soon after, the Tigers keeper was forced into an excellent save to deny Robert Codner from 30 yards. As half-time approached, City continued to push, with Eyre forcing a neat save from the visitors’ chubby goaltender, and Goodison heading narrowly wide after an excellent Philpott corner. However, the best chance of the half was the final chance. A City corner was only half-cleared, and the ball fell invitingly for Brown fifteen yards from goal, but he snatched at the ball, and screwed it well wide.

The second half began poorly for City, with Musselwhite having to be alert to foil a one-on-one chance for Hudson. At the other end, Eyre had a half-chance with a header from seven yards, but could only nod the ball over. City were increasingly being forced back though, and on 57 minutes disaster struck. Some wretched defending enabled Matt Fisher a clear sight of goal, and from 20 yards he lashed the ball past the isolated Musselwhite, to the unrestrained glee of the 200 Poppies fans. It wasn’t getting any better, as the crowd justifiably vented their frustration as yet another throw-in to City was squandered. That led to Brabin appearing to remonstrate with the Kempton as its patrons derided the lack of effort, though perhaps the player was having a go at himself, or his team mates. He had better have been – we paid to watch that, and any criticism aimed at the team was fully warranted. Back on the pitch, and things were becoming increasingly grim. Edwards took a free-kick 45 yards from goal, but somehow punted the ball into the mocking band of Kettering fans, as opposed to the penalty area.

Whitmore was thrown in, though he was clearly unfit, limping after three minutes. Despite the handicap of his groin injury, he briefly invigorated his team mates, and City came close when a superbly cushioned header by Brown gave Brabin a clear sight of goal, but his header flashed wide with the goal at his mercy. The final fifteen minutes were a numbing torture, as Whitmore faded from view, City’s players continued to show the same witlessness and deplorable lack of effort, while the City fans exasperation escalated. With a minute left on the clock, Brown provided Greaves a golden chance from 20 yards with only the keeper to beat…and he cleared the North Stand. Quite a fitting way to end a utterly disgraceful evening.

Particular criticism can be levelled at Harper, Eyre, Brabin and Philpott. If they have any decency, they will hand back their wages for this week to the club. Brown tried, but resorted to falling over for free-kicks, so poor was the support he received. Brightwell defended well, but wasted too many free-kicks up front. Musselwhite cannot be blamed, Perry was adequate, Edwards hapless out of position, Greaves ineffectual and Goodison isolated at the back, and relied upon up front. It was a humbling night for all. If City are to avoid a pasting at Scunthorpe on Saturday, changes must be made.

REPORT: City 2-1 Carlisle

City tried their hardest to snatch a draw away from the jaws of victory but nonetheless took all three points in a Jekyll and Hyde performance against bottom placed Carlisle. Ian Goodison returned to the starting XI after missing the Kettering cup game last week, but a lack of fitness kept out his compatriot Theo Whitmore. City took the lead after just 7 minutes following a display of unexpected benevolence from the Cumbrian’s keeper Matthew Glennon. Under no pressure whatsoever, he hacked the ball straight to David Brown, who gleefully took a few steps forward before unleashing an unstoppable shot into the far corner of the net, with Glennon looking just a tad bemused.

The goal calmed City down somewhat, and they began patiently plugging away for a second. It came on 23 minutes following a goalmouth melee, Edwards (I think) laid the ball back to Ian Goodison, lurking on the edge of the box, the Jamaican drew back a white boot and sidefooted through the crowd to double the Tiger’s lead. City were in control at this stage and could have had more, Brightwell played a long crossfield ball into the area which was met by Gary Brabin who thumped a volley a foot outside of the right post. Brabin went close again with a glorious chipped shot from some 35 yards out that forced an acrobatic save from Glennon who parried away. The half ended with City 2-0 up and seemingly in control, and things looked good when we began the second half as we had ended the first. A corner clearance fell to Clint Marcelle to the left of the goal and he struck a powerful shot that was cleared off the line by the far post. It all seemed to go downhill from that point, Carlisle took the initiative and the Tigers didn’t look to have a response, backing off and letting the visitors back into the game.

The Cumbrians had a series of corners, about 4 million in all, and they finally made one count on 71 minutes, Connelly hammering in a rebound as the City defence snoozed. The Tigers looked bereft of ideas and a change had to be made. With ten minutes remaining, Brian Little made three, replacing Brown, Marcelle and Philpott with Wood, Eyre and Swales. Paul Musselwhite wasn’t troubled a great deal, but he was forced to pull off a diving save to tip over a 40-yard effort. City jolted from their slumber and had a few attacks that ultimately fell apart due to poor final balls. Brabin dinked the ball to Swales in the right far corner, he laid off to Edwards who found John Eyre. He turned and scooped a shot just wide of the left post. Some nervy moments at the end, but we held on for a vital three points. We remain in tenth position, four points off seventh place currently filled by Cheltenham. Scunny lie in sixth after destroying Mansfield 6-0 ahead of next weeks Humber derby. Fun and games lie in store.