City Till We Die

Hull City 1 Shrewsbury Town 4

Hull City 1 Shrewsbury Town 4

Can there possibly be a bright side to this alarming scoreline? Well, until deep into first-half injury time, when Shrewsbury scored their second goal, we were distinctly the better side, and had played reasonably well. However, the second half was truly wretched and ultimately we took a ghastly hammering. We played: Wilson Wright Greaves Hocking Peacock Fewings Brien Joyce Rioch Hodges Ellington And we started well enough, attacking Bunkers. A splendid piece of Hodges trickery, down near the by-line, created space for a low cross, which Ellington reached with a straining toe-end, but the ball flew just over the bar. We looked to be putting together our attacks with some conviction … whereupon they scored. Steele had disturbing amounts of time and space to run at and across our defence before firing a left-foot shot low past the blameless Wilson’s right hand into our net. But we kept going in the right vein. Joyce chip; Hocking flick; Greaves arriving in the box .. just over the bar. And offside too, but it was a fluid, promising move. Then Wright glanced a header from a floated Joyce free-kick narrowly beyond the far post with visiting keeper Benny the Gall well beaten. The Duke displayed heartening determination in the box to wrench possession from a Shrew, then turn sharply and shoot towards the corner of the net, only for the keeper to produce a fine diving save. We were by no means dominant, but we were the better side. But injury time in the first half dragged on, for no apparent reason. On about 48 minutes, a cross to the back post was met by Devon White, largely unmarked for no apparent reason, and his header was despatched into the back of our net. A short while into the second half, a free-kick close to the corner flag was hoisted to the back post, where White lurked once again ready, willing and able to head the ball home. Well, I say he “lurked”; a man of the vast dimensions of Devon White is physically incapable of lurking. He performed his celebrated version of a large, talentless lump of lard, but it was enough for our defence to leave him wholly unmarked and for White to bless the day he came across Hull City. For, to add to his score for Notts County in August, this was three already this season against us. Miserable defending. The rest of the match was just dreadful. The players had more or less given it up, and performed with minimal effort. Lowthorpe came on for Brien, and went to right-back with Peacock switching to midfield, but it made little difference at this stage. Moments of skill and joy? There were none, I’m afraid, other than from the Shrews’ superb number nine, Lee Steele, a pacy and strong front runner acquired from non-League. If we do re-direct our transfer policy towards buying players who’ve proved their worth at 4th Division level, then Steele should be snapped up immediately. The crowd (of about 4,800) was largely quiet, save only the small bunch of boo-boys on the West side of Bunkers, with their “get your cheque book out”s and their “What a load of rubbish”s. They have short memories and are fools, but the match was undeniably terrible. Shrewsbury made it four with a 20-yard shot which took a wicked deflection off someone’s heel to leave Willo with no chance at all. The only question was whether the bobbling ball would spin just inside or just outside the post; it was the sort of day where you felt the grim inevitability that it would enter the net, and it did. We scored after a decent build-up down the right saw the ball laid square into the path of Gregor Rioch who thumped home a meaty left-foot shot from the edge of the box. A well-taken goal, but even Gregor hardly bothered to celebrate it, so obvious was its irrelevance to the outcome of the match. Brien, of course, was a disaster yet again in the holding midfield role and exerted no discernible influence on the pattern of play. He must go. I find it hard to see that Peacock will ever make a wing-back; and Hodges is not capable of doing a job up front. Not mobile enough. But, yet again, my main anxiety concerns the three centre-backs. They leave too much to each other. Opposition forwards seem to have so much time and space against us. The system just doesn’t seem to work. A bad day. And our mood got gloomier again as we banged on the car radio to discover that Hednesford had scored 5 away from home. I started this piece trying to find a bright side and the only one I can dream up to finish on is that City are frequently at their best when underdogs. And that is quite feasibly precisely our status for next Saturday’s very tough match.

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