|Whoops! City slip on another Cheshire banana skin, and fracture their Cup hopes for another season. Mike Scott pieces together the broken bones.|
|Oh Hull City. Why do you have to make things so complicated. I’ve seen the way your acting like you somebody else, it gets me frustrated. This was a bolt out of the blue, a weak performance from highly promising beginnings that saw the Tigers crash out of the FA Cup. Pre-match speculative talk was of the chairman offering enhanced players’ bonuses as an enticement to help facilitate a lucrative home 3rd round tie in the new stadium – well if such an offer was made, then clearly it proves that our current squad is not motivated by such base and coarse trinkets as hard cash. Killing us softly with their song were:
Musselwhite Regan Whittle Anderson Burton Green Ashbee Delaney Williams Alexander Jevons
The suspended Keates was replaced by the returning-from-suspension Ashbee while the Cup-tied loanee Branch was replaced by the Grimsby-don’t-care-if-he’s-cup-tied-or-not Jevons. And it all started much as it left off against Lincoln last week. Within 30 seconds Stuart Green skipped through the left side of the Macc defence and crossed, the clearance falling to Ashbee who lifted a tricky falling effort over the bar. Moments later Green again pulled the attacking strings and a cross found Alexander at the far post who nodded across goal only for Jevons to sky a close range effort, albeit under the close attention of the Macc defence. When Macc were looking to attack they went down their right using Eaton, but Burton was getting the better of the early exchanges. When the wide man finally did get a cross in Lightbourne was unattended and his header drew a fine save out of Musselwhite. This appeared to be a turning point. The crowd was quietened. Burton’s game went to pieces. And from the resulting corner Macclesfield opened the scoring. A melee in the six yard box culminated in Delaney swinging at the ball and it rebounded off another City player to Tipton, who has never knowingly refused an open goal chance from three yards. 0-1. But still there was some life in the City team, even though the home support was largely mute for the remaining 79 minutes. Within seconds Regan had fed Jevons who rode two challenges and swept a shot just past Steve Wilson’s post. But as time went on Macclesfield began to get City’s measure and the attacking threat waned. Macc line up 3-5-2, although with Lightbourne tucking in on the right it was often more like 3-6-1. More than enough defenders, and a flooded midfield aimed at swamping the threat of Green. It worked. I would also praise the excellent Tipton up front. I presume he only turns it on for City, otherwise his career would’ve encompassed Oldham and Man City, not Oldham and Macclesfield. His willing running saw him pop up all over the place – wide right, wide left, in the hole, between the centre backs. He even served tea and pies to hungry North Standers at half-time. Perhaps. Tipton was a thorn in City’s side all day, and I suggest we sign him for the simple reason that he then wouldn’t play against us again. After 15 minutes Tipton crossed for Lightbourne to head just wide. That was twice the big Bermudan headed goalwards with scant attention from Whittle and Anderson, and he was finding his range. His next intervention was less positive however, a crude lunge at Regan that earned him a yellow card. From the resultant free-kick Wilson flapped characteristically and twice Whittle had chances to head goalwards from 12 yards but instead elected to square to no-one in particular. The Macc back line creaked a little for 10 minutes as Williams briefly exerted a greater influence on the game, but the threat from the away side continued to be there. When Anderson ceded possession carelessly on the halfway line and the onrushing Tipton fed Lightbourne, City heaved a sigh of relief as Ashbee motored back to block the shot and concede a corner. So relieved, in fact, that they didn’t defend the resultant cross at all and the well-practiced Lightbourne despatched a routine header under the dive of Mussy for 0-2. City continued to play a passing game, quite right too, but the zest had gone out of our play and the attacks lacked any real threat. Green wriggled through the midfield crowd scene to set up Alexander whose first time shot was blasted high and wide when space for at least two touches and a composed finish was available. Regan was set free by Jevons and the cross found Alexander in the box, but his header went over the crossbar – once more Wilson was left untested. Regan may have got this cross in but much of the rest of his play was poor, as passes went astray or were blocked. A similar story was seen on the left with Burton and Williams – Macc had clearly determined that they should cut off the City supply lines at source, and it was a highly effective tactic. As the half closed two flashes of individual skill saw Burton and Delaney both craft shooting chances, but Burton’s dribbled wide off his shin and Delaney’s was parried adeptly by Willo. As the half time whistle approached Jevons drew a further save out of Wilson, and the feeling on the terraces was that while we had been undone by Macc for the second time this season, some well-crafted changes to the formation could see City get back into the tie. The home draw against Leeds was not yet out of the question. A vigorous half-time workout by Elliott confirmed that the required surgery was to be undertaken, but when the players emerged for the second stanza it was apparent that some strange decisions had been made. Williams had been very ineffectual and did not deserve a minute longer on the pitch, and the same could be said for the invisible Delaney. But instead, it was Jevons and Whittle that were withdrawn for Elliott and Peat, with Delaney switching to centre back, Williams to centre midfield, Peat patrolling the left and Elliott going up front. Lessons learnt. Williams is as short as Keates, but is no centre midfielder – he was shocking. Elliott is far more dangerous armed with a left sided brief than he is through the centre. Delaney is a good passing centre back, but lacks positional nous. Peat is capable of being totally ineffectual, he barely touched the ball for the full 45. It was a tactical switch that failed in almost every sense, and I sincerely hope that Mr Taylor realised this. Macclesfield came out and defended with their 3-6-1 line-up now a permanent feature, and they worked hard to protect their goal – plenty hard enough. Burton’s problems of the first half continued to escalate and he spannered a succession of passes and clearances into touch. He was soon replaced by the restored-to-fitness Shaun Smith, who performed OK in the circumstances, and all the manager’s jokers were played. But still no penetration, and the game died a sorry and dampsquibby death. Only the ex-City stalwart Wilson could be relied upon – he rolled back the years and flapped gruesomely at a corner on the hour, the ball dropped to Delaney who showed the composure of a drug-crazed po-going safety-pin-laden Sparks fanatic as he skied his chance over the bar from two yards out. Peat briefly left the shooting stick that he perched upon while observing the game go past him, and fired a decent shot after cutting inside from his wing, and Wilson showed that his shot stopping skills are still in good order as he pushed wide. But the final throw of the dice went in favour of the away side, as a cleared corner fell to the slap-headed Whittaker who lashed a fizzing drive into the top corner, giving Mussy no chance. The only remaining moment of note was when Williams went down and injured and Stuart Green kicked the off the pitch to allow the trainer on. Not a quick roll over the touchline for young Stuart, oh no, he lashed a full blooded drive that propelled the ball at warp speed into the front row of the West Stand director’s box. I don’t know who sat next to Mrs Pearson yesterday, but whoever it was had a sore head this morning. So a meek capitulation for a second time in six weeks against hard working but limited opponents. David Moss, the Macc manager, clearly has Hull City sussed, I just hope he keeps his masterplan to himself. This next week will be very interesting, this is Peter Taylor’s first real test. Will he get the players back up for the visit of statesiders Boston next Saturday? Will he modify the tactics to freshen up the attacking potency? Will he never ever on any account play Ryan Williams in the middle of midfield again? Just two more matches for Hull City to shine at Boothferry Park. Over to you, Mr Taylor.
|HULL CITY: Musselwhite, Regan, Whittle, Anderson, Burton, Green, Delaney, Ashbee, Williams, Alexander, Jevons. Subs: Elliott (for Jevons, 45), Peat (for Whittle, 45), Smith (for Burton, 69), Holt, Harvey. Goals: None Booked: Regan, Williams Sent Off: None MACCLESFIELD TOWN: Wilson, Tinson, Ridler, Welch, Hitchen, Whitaker, Monroe, Eaton, Adams, Lightbourne, Tipton. Subs: Abbey (for Eaton, 60), Martin, Hardy, O’Neill, Askey. Goals: Tipton 12, Lightbourne 27, Whitaker 76 Booked: Adams, Lightbourne Sent Off: None ATTENDANCE: 7,803|