Hull City 2 Nottingham Forest 3

This report won’t be long, as this match doesn’t deserve anything more than
a cursory recollection of the simple facts.

Slutsky recalled Meyler (for Stewart) and Campbell (for Dicko) from last
week’s Oakwell smash & grab,

In front of 15,780 (yeah, right) and after a justified minute’s applause for
City legend Les Mutrie the Tigers carded:

McGregor

Aina Dawson Hector Clark

Larsson Meyler Grosicki

Bowen Henriksen

Campbell

Although to be honest I’ve no idea where Henriksen was actually supposed to
be playing, as he wandered in a free role behind Campbell without ever
really getting his foot on the ball or win a tackle.

One of the rare bright spots of the afternoon – and indeed the season – was
the energy and inventiveness of Jarrod Bowen, and I’ll be surprised if Ehaw
hasn’t cashed-in on our top scorer come January. On four minutes he skipped
through four Forest challenges before seeing his shot cleared, and a few
minutes later he setup Grosicki to blooter wide.

Shortly after Forest took the worst ever corner kick in English professional
football, 19:04 on the clock triggered the release of a few hundred bright
yellow tennis balls raining down on the visitors goalmouth from a baying
North Stand. The game was held up whilst stewards kicked them all from the
KC sward whilst an admirable tirade of abuse echoed around the half empty
stadium. And behind me in the East Stand dimwits shouted their view that the
protestors should be “banned for life”. We truly have a club that some of
our supporter base deserve.

And so on the half hour Forest take the lead. City’s defence stand-off and
Dowell rifles past McGregor from 25 yards. Should our Scotch keeper have
done better? It was at a nice height and looked like he had a good sight as
it arrowed past him.

At this point my notes suggest City’s forwards were not showing for the ball
from midfield, and Henriksen was having another stinker. Indeed, our entire
midfield looked lightweight all afternoon, bar Meyler who always appears two
tackles from a red. Half-time 0-1.

At half-time Henriksen was shepherd-crooked by Toral, and Irving brought
ponytailed light to replace Grosicki’s hovering dark cloud.

All the positive stuff from City was coming through Jarrod Bowen, and on 48
he skipped down the right, beating two Forest before his cross was snaffled
by the keeper. Two minutes later Toral goes down in a hamstring-tweaked
heap, and is replaced by Dicko. City’s quickest-ever substituted substitute?

On 71 more crass defending from City allows Dowell the freedom of the park
and he pings one in off the post. The City players look a sad sight,
heads-down and seemingly accepting game over. But no-one told young Jarrod
as he curled a superb shot into the top corner from 25 yards. Game back on?

But, of course, it wasn’t. Dowell completes his hat-trick via the penalty
spot after Larsson coughs up cheap possession and Meyler trips goal-bound
Walker, though it looked a soft decision.

Hector reduced the arrears after drilling through a crowded penalty area on
87, but it was too little and far too late. Five minutes added saw plenty of
Forest timewasting (who could blame them) and loud boos accompanied the
final whistle.

Most of the post-match media attention focused on the tennis ball protest
and deflected from the rank awful City performance. The Tigers looked a
shell of the side fielded by Marco Silva less than a year ago, and now look
every bit a lower mid-table Championship team bereft of confidence and,
perhaps more worrying, leadership. Our defence is as shaky as an Allam
Employment Tribunal. Even Richard Sneekes would add steel to this current
midfield. City’s forwards are feeding on scraps, and are so playing deeper –
Dicko should be playing on the shoulder of an opposing centre half, not
hunting in the centre circle for the ball.

If this continues we’d all do well to start mentally attuning to preparing
for a relegation scrap, as watching Sheff United beat the White Shite on
Friday night clearly demonstrates how far off a promotion team we are. We
have some talented players, we have some journeymen and some
not-fully-committed loanees, and Slutsky needs to somehow mould this lot to
at least match the sum of its parts, which it currently nowhere near is.

Andy Medcalf

Hull City 2 Wolves 3

Good news: I think we saw the best team in the league tonight. Bad news: it wasn’t us.

I wasn’t sure what to make of Wolves at the start of the season. They spent a lot of money last summer on continental players and it never really worked out for them. But this time they look the real deal. It’s not just the excellent players they’ve brought in but they have a top manager in Nuno and he’s got them set up incredibly well. They’re playing a style of football that, particularly away from home in the Championship, is very brave. They played three at the back stretched out almost the width of the pitch while the two wing backs hugged the touchline high up the pitch and stretched City every time the ball went forward. In the middle exploiting the space this leaves they have clever players who can move the ball about well and, as we saw devastatingly for the opening goal, shoot from distance.

City had started well until Neves smashed one past McGregor from 25 yards after six minutes [0-1] but it was already clear that Wolves wing backs were going to be a crucial part of the game and we were already struggling to cope with them. Not for the first time this season our naive young full backs were exposed – in part by the opposition and partly by our failure to protect them up the field. That situation isn’t helped by us only playing one central midfielder. I’m not counting Markus Henriksen. He’s not a central midfielder – he has no effect on games, he doesn’t make a tackle or a forward pass.

I don’t lay the blame at the feet of the manager for our failure to match them tactically. He just doesn’t have any other fit players to work with. Sure, 4-4-2 is no counter for what is almost a 3-2-5 formation but replacing any of the first eleven with those from the bench is far worse a proposition.

We weren’t just second d best on the ball, with Neves dominating for them like Tom Huddlestone as his very best, but we didn’t have their knack of drawing fouls or killing time, with Neves dominating for them like the love child of Cristiano Ronaldo and Rudi Voller.

After Miranda spurned the chance to double their lead after a corner was flicked on to him at the near post, we equalised pretty much from nowhere. Hector met a Donald Trump corner along with a defender and the ball was shuffled away from the far post. We took the resulting corner short, a cross was whipped past Ruddy, headed off the line and Dawson headed it back in [1-1].

That could have been the catalyst for City to push on before half time but instead, we were sloppy in possession, gave them gifts in our half and looked susceptible to a ball over the top to either wing-back. In the end, it was the little winger Enobakhare who picked up the ball on the right touchline, breezed past Hector and laid the ball on a plate for Jota to score [1-2].

Half time: Hull City 1 Wolves 2

Our flaws were there for all to see but fixing them was going to be difficult. We had nothing on the bench to change the game. In similar fashion to the Villa game on the opening day though, the eleven sent back out changed it themselves by getting on the ball, keeping possession and forcing Wolves to worry about us. And they looked nowhere near as effective.

McGregor made a decent, but simple, save from Bonatini’s far post header in what was suddenly a rare Wolves attack. City struggled to find a final ball after getting into key areas until just after the hour a neat move worked the ball to the edge of the area where Campbell exploded into the box, beautifully beat the last man with a neat trick and was denied by a good save from John Ruddy’s out-stretched right arm. If that was close then Hernandez’s thumping header from Clucas’s corner smashing the post five minutes later was tantalising.

We had momentum. Even Henriksen won two excellent challenges in midfield. Then Campbell was subbed off for Diomande and the game went. Again, it’s hard to blame the manager when Campbell is clearly not yet at peak fitness but there is just nothing outside the first eleven and losing Campbell’s effervescence for Diomande’s clunky and clumsy wandering was the sign that this game was over. Worse was still to come when Hernandez jumped to challenge for a good Grosicki cross (not many of them to the pound) and landed awkwardly. He immediately called for the physio who called for a stretcher and Abel went off with a serious looking achilles injury. Shiiiit.

With the referee just about to announce NINE minutes of stoppage time, we made it irrelevant. Typical. Aina was caught in possession in their half and sub Nouha Dicko raced onto a ball into space to finish under McGregor [1-3]. We were awarded a seriously soft penalty eight minutes into the nine added for a foul on Diomande which David Meyler buried into the bottom left hand corner [2-3] but the game was up.

Full time: Hull City 2 Wolves 3

This felt like a game that would let us know how good we are after a comfortable win on Saturday. In the end though, it’s probably not told us anything we didn’t already know. We’re a decent outfit with 7 or 8 quality players. Michael Hector is a classy defender. We’re at least five players short of having a squad anywhere near Wolves’s (they had actual grown-ups on the bench and the manager didn’t pick who came on by playing Ip, Dip, dog shit). We desperately need a left back. Markus Henriksen isn’t a central midfielder. Kamil Grosicki will have games where you wonder if he gives a toss.

And one new one, we desperately need Abel Hernandez to not be injured for six months. Or even six weeks.