MATCH REPORT: City 2-1 York

Do you remember that season in which we only won four times? We’ve now won almost twice that number of games in a row. Truly, these are momentous times for City.

Jon Walters was drafted into the squad and loan signing Marshall was given a start as City faced York, their entire club lifted by the news that Bootham Crescent is safe for the forseeable future. The Tigers lined up: Myhill; Marshall, Joseph, Delaney, Dawson; France, Ashbee, Green, Elliott; Allsopp, Burgess.

The first half did not see too many chances created, as City attacked the South Stand in difficult conditions – blustery winds combining with a curiously bald-looking pitch, and although City puffed and panted they could not break down a resilient York defence. So let’s just forget the whole thing, and skip to the second half.

City piled forwards to the North Stand, home to a creditable 1,400 or so from York – though perhaps “piled” is not the correct term. The game was most certainly an even affair, thanks to the conditions and York’s tenacity. In fact, the opening goal took most by surprise, yet it was a peach when it arrived. Burgess neatly controlled the ball and fed it through to Allsopp, who toe-ended the ball past the onrushing keeper to open the scoring.

York’s reply was instant, and frustrating. City have now conceded sixteen goals at home this season, the majority of them soft, and this was no exception. A cross from the right found Nogan completely unmarked, and his neat header beat Nogan. On came Walters, and back came the Tigers – on 74 minutes, Green fed Marshall, and his superb cross was headed in at the near post by Walters.

A nervy final minutes were safely negotiated for a priceless victory. A far from fluent performance, but three crucial points considering the series of defeats our nearest contenders suffered. That’s now seven in a row – the champagne is not yet on ice, but we can at least contemplate purchasing it.

MATCH REPORT: Bury 0-0 City

A second successive away draw, in greatly differing circumstances to the one at Torquay. This time, City were the dominant side, yet were foiled by careless finishing.

Taylor opted for a change in midfield, bringing in Keates for Green. It meant we lined up: Musselwhite; Thelwell, Whittle, Delaney, Dawson; Price, Ashbee, Keates, Holt; Allsopp, Burgess. City were immediately on the attack, Burgess almost scoring in the first minute. And the first five minutes were Total Tiger Domination as we swarmed all over a side looking very much like one that had lost 4-0 at home three days earlier. Yet this early spell didn’t yield a goal, and Bury cautiously gained a toe-hold in a game they’d probably have lost by more than four had they conceded swiftly.

Any attempts Bury had to come forward were rapidly undone by a combination of stout defence and timidity on their part, however our own attacking potency was diminishing quickly. The opening spurt gave way to a dogged war of attrition, and neither side could claim to be on top.

Ashbee was cautioned for daring to execute a fine sliding tackle in midfield, while similar excellence by Whittle was also punished. Referee Curson had evidently had a bad day at the office, or was mourning the death of his favourite goldfish, or something trivial that affects the mindset of people who love clipboards and sharpened pencils, and he was obviously itching to impose himself on the game. With a spate of petty free-kicks, a disappointing game was never given a chance. The first caution would prove very significant later in the game.

Half-time approached with our grip on the game wholly surrendered, and Bury were daring to dream that the anticipating drubbing might not actually materialise. The 1,869 City fans, constituting a remarkable 48% of the crowd, were already getting that same sinking feeling.

We began the second half almost as brightly as the first, though without the same instant threat on goal. With City attacking the goal behind which the Tiger Nation was housed it was apparent that we were on top, yet clear chances were scarce. Bury had an ambitious penalty appeal waved away, we had a few scratchy and increasingly tense efforts on goal, Price was denied by the home keeper after a good shooting chance presented itself – the points were slipping away.

Green came on for Keates, and then France and Forrester replaced Allsopp and Price as Taylor’s defensive selection gave way to a determination to claim the win. Forrester looked as alert as ever and our best chance of a goal. Forrester latched onto an excellent Burgess header but Garner foiled him with an excellent save. And it was almost over when Ashbee fell to the turf in the area, claiming a penalty. The black-clad buffoon seized the opportunity, and with indecent haste and manifest glee sent Ashbee off for a supposed dive.

A frustrating evening. City dominated most of the game, created far more chances yet could not find the goal that would surely have won the game. However, Mansfield and Swansea obligingly lost while Oxford drew at York – our lead at the top remains two points. We’ll need that cushion with a home match against perennial bogey side Lincoln looming large on Saturday.

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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