If you are prone to bouts of depression then I advise not reading this report. Instead, here are some images of kittens to while away the time. If you are into self-flagellation then you might want to know more.
Walking back to Shepherds Bush station, weaving through the blue and white hooped hordes and dodging the many deposits left by nervous police horses I reflected on the match. Had I seen more crap on the road (the horse dung, not the QPR supporters) or on the pitch? Probably the latter.
This is my first taste of the 2017/18 vintage Hull City. I don’t think it’s going to be one that goes down in history.
Lining up on a warm summer afternoon and not doing the business for The Tigers were:
The first – and very observation – is that Clucas wasn’t on the pitch and nor was he on the bench. A fairly obvious giveaway that we have seen the last of him in black and amber. Wherever he ends up, well done young man. His development over the last couple of years has been great to watch and one in the eye for the naysayers who liked to call him “Clueless”.
We kick-off with the sun behind the team, and the City supporters who have made the trip. It’s almost ten seconds before the first anti-Allam chants are raised. It’s an even game. QPR are poor and can hardly string a couple of passes together, but we are competing with them to see who can be worse. Nine minutes into his first start, Kevin Stewart went down with an injury following a routine clearance. It looks like it could be a recurrence of the ankle problems that suffered last season which is worrying. He was replaced by Diomande, the latter going up front with Campbell playing a deeper role.
We are well into the half before the first chances arrive. We have had marginally better of the early exchanges but about twenty minutes in the home team – and their supporters – wake up. The chances go begging and neither goalkeeper has been troubled at this stage. A promising break is lead by Grosicki but the end result encapsulates his career to date, promise followed by poor execution. The first call to action for either keeper results from a Campbell shot after he manages to wiggle free.
After half an hour a trip right on the edge of our area gives the Rs free kick in a dangerous position. An elaborate manouveur with several players running in random directions seems to confuse the home team more than it does us. The first attempt is aborted as a couple of City players have encroached, the second results in a daisy cutter that is easily repelled by the wall. We are still under pressure however and smart defending from Hector and Dawson is needed more than once to keep them at bay.
And then we score. A free kick on the left is played across to the right. It looks like we have messed around too much and the opportunity will dissipate but finally Meyler gets his cross over. It evades the players in the middle and reaches Bowen. He fends off a defender and slots in a low shot. Bowen was one of the few to rise above the morass of mediocrity in the game. The goal actually manages to stop the “Allam Out” medley for a few minutes.
There are still ten minutes left in the half but that’s about it until the break. 1-0 up just about reflects the play but it has mostly been meagre fare on offer.
Slutsky makes a change at half time with Mazuch replacing Campbell. We learn later that the latter had taken a slight knock but it’s a negative move and reduces our attacking threat. It’s also a reflection of the inexperience on the bench: of the seven selected, only Diomande had played more than three games for City. There is almost a complete lack of action in the first quarter of an hour. There are players out there, there is effort, there is no quality and no end product. On the hour mark we win a corner after an incursion by Aina up the right flank but the resulting header from Mazuch is straight at Smithies in the Rangers’ goal.
Diamonde does produce a bit of quality with take down and turn but then negates the good work when the attempted through pass is too heavy and straight to the keeper. By this time Holloway has brought on Matt Smith for the ineffective Lua Lua (it could have been anyone, they were all just as ineffective). This does regenerate the home team. Smith’s physicality is the sonic screwdriver that unlocks the home defence. First he heads straight at McGregor and then just wide but it looks like an equalizer is on the cards for the home team. The traffic is now mostly one way, but there is a respite when first Diomande and then Bowen are brought down. It looks like an opportunity for dead ball specialist Larsson but Grosicki lashes it high, wide and not handsome.
And then the inevitable equalizer arrives. A corner is partially cleared, Freeman returns the ball into the box and the inevitable Matt Smith nods in a close range header with no discernible challenge from a City defender. It’s almost immediately doubled as Sylla (another substitute) hits the post and the resulting rebound off the diving McGregor squirms to safety. QPR are definitely on the ascendency and looking more likely. McGregor is booked for time wasting which sums up our lack of ambition at this point. Therefore it’s something of a surprise when almost snatch a winner. Grosicki threads a through ball that Larsson latches on to. His shot lacks power however and Smithies is able to stick out a foot and direct it away.
The 4th official has just announced seven minutes of added time (there were a couple of injuries to add on to McGregor’s shenanigans) when QPR get what proved to be the winner. I’ll need to see this again to comprehend the comedy defending that lead to Sylla being free to tap in from a couple of feet out from goal. It hard to say who exactly was culpable at that distance so I’ll blame all of the defence. Sylla gets a yellow for excessive celebration (i.e., ripping his shirt off to reveal a very fetching sports bra).
There is still time for an equalizer and we nearly get one. In final flurry, first Hector and then Mazuch have attempts cleared off the line and a couple of of other efforts were sent wide. Finally, after 90+ minutes there is some effort and intent but it’s way too late to make a difference. If only we had shown such intent earlier in the game. QPR were a poor team, there for the taking. It just so happens we were poorer.
As I write this, I see in the morning papers that Clucas’s departure has been confirmed. With the other transfers and injuries we have a threadbare squad. Reinforcements are definitely required if we are not to emulate Wolves and pass straight through this league on our downward spiral.