After a thorough first half chasing a Barmby equaliser (off a defender’s arse) and a Saints sending off let City back in for a draw that ends a run of losses in unexpected fashion.
Your earnest clique of tiger-chat matchreporters is less likely to disclose details of internal unrest than was the Soviet Politburo of the 1960s, so there will be no hint of which member subordinated pen duties last night to the admitted trivia of earning a living so as to put food on his family’s plate. So, in brief …… it was a peculiarly unbalanced though entertaining game. So’ton thrilled their travelling band of 7 (seven) fans by scoring an early goal that was about as effortless and therefore dismaying as I’ve seen stuck past us in a long while. Walcott, to the outside of Quashie’s left boot, to Koslowski, a stroll inside and into the back of our net. Thereafter, with the speedy teenager Walcott largely terrifying when on or near the ball, Ormerod nipping around trickily in front of our back four, Quashie in serene control of midfield and Koslowski, playing wide on the left, a constant threat and never properly marked, the pattern was like that for most of the match at St Mary’s last month but with the Tiger pain factor trebled. Which is to say it was astonishing at times to realise we were only one down.
That we were only one down was in part due to the referee’s apparent decision to suspend the hand-ball rule against Saints, in part due to doughty defence by Cort and Collins but most of all due to the simply majestic Myhill.
And then in the later stages of the first half we got the ball upfield, got in amongst ‘em, no pretty stuff, men in the box and fluked an equaliser via a medley of deflections that, for all its fortune, was evidence of our determination not to surrender to superior opposition. Then Quashie got himself sent off, leaving us with 45 minutes to punish ten men.
But So’ton then had slightly the better of a largely cautious second half. So, 1-1 it ended.
We should have been much more ambitious in the second half. We had an extra man but we never tried to make it count. We sat back and never really considered gambling in pursuit of all three points. So’ton, racked by dressing room turmoil and reeling from their 3-4 beating on Saturday, were ripe for a pasting, and we failed to deliver.
The previous paragraph was bollocks of the biggest, purplest kind. The visitors came out for the second half with one thought only – don’t lose shape, keep it tight and pray that Hull (as they probably mistakenly call us) over-extend in attack. Err, that’s three thoughts then. So’ton were desperate for us to let them play on the break. We didn’t fall for it. We kept our patience. Ultimately we didn’t carry enough threat to get a winner but, in short, amid our current run not losing last night was a sounder option than risking losing by pushing for a win. Well done Mr Taylor – and to get his strategy right while confronted with the menacing genius of Sir Clive Woodward on the opposition bench was some achievement.
Negatives for us were France, horribly confused most of the time at right-back, Delaney, who is clearly not a left-back but is an entirely splendid chap for continuing to do his best in a unsuitable position instead of sulking, Burgess, injured early on and, I hope to be proved wrong, never to play professional football again, Elliott, mincing garbage for the few minutes he played late on, and Brown, poor and pointlessly feeble again. On the plus side, Myhill, of course, Green, whose efforts didn’t always succeed but who worked and never shirked and had his most influential game in a while, and Barmby, on early to replace Burgess and the source of most of our craftier moments.
And Billy Paynter. In the first half he had shooting opportunities twice in a minute and on both occasions he tried to pass. Not a natural goalscorer. And his crossing from the right was woeful. But I liked him. ‘Bustling’ is the relevant adjective. And there’s a bit of the Duane Darby about him. He could be an enjoyably honest battler.
Paynter is also firmly in the style of Taylor’s signings. There’s a lot of nonsense talked about who we will and won’t buy, as far as I can see. The manager’s made it clear enough, hasn’t he? He wants young players, mainly. He wants to be able to coach and improve them. He wants players with something to prove – mainly from the lower Divisions, though not always (Welch, Barmby, both special cases as a loan signing and a prodigal son respectively). He wants players with a good, honest attitude. Most of all, he wants players that will ensure that the sum of our team is greater than its parts – and he doesn’t want fancy-dan high-wage world-weary strollers from the fringes of the Premiership who will wreck our team spirit. That’s consistently Mr Taylor’s line, isn’t it? It’ll enough to keep us up, in my opinion.
Meanwhile, having mentioned the dauntingly magnificent Sir Clive Woodward above, could it be that we have our own in-house motivational guru? Our Chairman’s programme notes last night reveal that as he made his weary way back through the carpark after Saturdays’ beating at the Mantovaniski he was approached by a City fan who proceeded to give him a damn’ good talking to about the need for self-belief. And Mr Pearson took it to heart and was boosted by it. All hail the man with silver tongue. Might he perhaps be a tig-chatter? I think we should be told. Or, as the man himself might put it, I think we should be towelled.
HULL CITY (4-3-3): Myhill; France, Cort, Collins, Delaney; Green, Welsh, Woodhouse; Brown, Burgess, Paynter. Subs: Barmby (for Burgess, 13), Elliott (for Paynter, 63), Fagan (for Brown, 85), Lynch, Duke.
Goals: Barmby 45
Sent Off: None
SOUTHAMPTON: Niemi, Delap, Powell, Svensson, Higginbotham, Kosowski, Oakley, Quashie, Belmadi, Ormerod, Walcott. Subs: Hajto (for Kosowski, 45), Fuller (for Ormerod, 71), Smith, McCann, Jones.
Goals: Kosowski 6
Sent Off: Quashie
REFEREE: P Walton