Newcastle United 2 Hull City 3

1662 days. That seems a long time. 1662 days is how long we Hull City fans have had to wait since Manucho poked home a Garcia cross in our last away win in top flight. Maybe that’s a little unfair, we have spent three seasons in the second tier, so maybe 26 away league games without a win is a better comparison. Steve Bruce brought his Tigers side back to his native North East. With Figueroa missing on compassionate leave and Koren out of the side due to a broken foot, the team was shuffled to face a Newcastle side who had won 2 and drawn 1 of their last three games. McGregor Elmohamady Chester Davies Rosenior Quinn Huddlestone Livermore Brady Aluko Graham The early exchanges of the game set the pattern for much of the first half. The impressive Cabaye frequently combined with Santon and Remy on their left wing, as they appeared to target the defensive weakness of Elmohamady. On the whole, the City back line proved a formidable foe to these Newcastle attacks, giving the home team plenty of possession, but adopting a ‘thou shall not pass’ attitude once they reached the edge of the Tigers area. At the other end, chances were few and far between. In our last games against Newcastle, I was struck by how Coloccini struggled with the physical battles with Cousin. Whilst he’s a composed defender, he still struggles with the physical side of the game, this time it was the much less physically imposing Aluko who brushed aside the Argentinian, but was unable to direct his shot goal wards. However within a minute, City were trailing. Sissoko works some space in the right hand channel before crossing over to the left. Elmohamady misjudged the flight of the ball, allowing it to loop over his head and onto the foot of Santon. His central cross is met by the meaty head of Remy, putting his header beyond the reach of McGregor. In the previous match against Cardiff, Graham was singled out for his missing of easy chances. This week he seemed to be playing a different role. He may now have broken his goal-scoring duck, but was proving a strong and effective target man against the Newcastle back-line, bringing other players into the game. That said, when a chance did fall his way, he managed to scuff his shot giving Krul an easy ball to pick up. Despite Graham not scoring, it’s not proving too much of an issue as City are finding other players to carry that job out. Again Newcastle had been given plenty of possession, whilst rarely being given the opportunity to threaten McGregor’s goal. City were starting to get better chances up to the equaliser. A Krul ball out finds it was to Quinn on the right side. The Irish midfielder passes to Aluko at the top of the Newcastle D, before the ball is played over to Brady finding space down the left channel. Whilst the shot seemed to head straight at Krul, it sneaked under the netman’s body and into the back of the net. The Newcastle trio of Santon, Cabaye and Remy continue to be a thorn in the side of the City defence. At that point, I thought a reshuffle of the City wide players may have helped the situation. Elmohamady to right wing, Rosenior to right back, Brady to left back and Quinn to the left wing. But City kept their shape and held on for the most part. However, just as we were preparing for the half-time break, Newcastle put themselves back in front. Santon again attacks the left wing, before passing back to Cabaye. His shot is blocked by Chester, but falls nicely to Remy, who’s got plenty of space to pick his spot and put the Geordies 2-1 up. Much is said about the 7 levels the away fans have to ascent of the Leazes stand. To my immediate left, a large screen is constructed to keep out the weather – providing an effective greenhouse to those in the stand. This does however provide some great views over the Tyne valley past the youth clubs of Byker, the football pitches of Glipton and over the water to Gateshead. The Leazes and Milburn stands provides half of a massive stadium, although the Gallowgate and East stand, being somewhat lower gives the ground a feeling of being somewhat unfinished. That may well be down to being unable to expand on those sides, due to the nearby residential areas. Soon after the half-time break, City are once again back on level terms. After Aluko is knocked down, having received the ball from a throw-in, a free kick is awarded about 30 yards out to the left of the field. Brady’s kick is met by the head of Elmohamady, who’d glided beyond his marker, to loop a header off the far post and into the goal. Slight confusion did reign after the announcer suggested it was Chester who had scored, but no matter, the score line was 2-2. That early goal spurred City to be more adventurous than the first half. Quinn in particular seemed to be finding more space to attack his wing. However whilst Graham was still proving to be an effective target up front, his goal scoring eye was still proving less than effective. This was by no means one way traffic. Newcastle still seemed to be attacking through the trio of Santon, Cabaye and Remy, but they were getting less luck out of the stubborn centre-back pairing of Chester with his well timed interceptions and Davies with a more physical approach to getting the ball clear. On the other side of the pitch Ben Arfa had largely been kept quiet by the busy efficiency of Rosenior, so the French winger found himself having to drop deeper and deeper to get any time on the ball. A rare opportunity did seem to be hit out of play by Ben Arfa, before the referee Atkinson awarded a corner. Fortunately Yanga-Mbiwa put his shot over. The sight of Atkinson in the referee’s shirt had filled me with dread before the game. I was convinced he was one of those referees that we never got any decisions from. However I was proven wrong. From my high vantage point, we appeared to be getting the majority of the decisions. Many of which I thought should have gone the other way. So perhaps I shouldn’t complain too much about Ben Arfa being awarded that corner. The next Newcastle attacks end Cabaye’s day. He once again attacks down the City right, but is met by a strong but fair challenge from Davies. Initially it seemed that he went down far too easy, as Newcastle put the ball out of play when they had a very promising attack on the cards. He did however limp off to be replaced by Gouffran. After Quinn fells Sissoko, Ben Arfa is given a chance on the free-kick, whilst Rosenior is restricted to remain 10 yards away, but perhaps his continues presence put the Frenchman off, meaning he could only put it wide. After Boyd replaces Quinn, City appear to be trying to take all three points from the game. A few set pieces fall City’s way, yet we are less than efficient with these, firstly with a Huddlestone free-kick finding Elmohamady before Krul punches clear, then a Brady corner which Sissoko heads away. With the game becoming more open, Newcastle’s chances are blocked by City’s men at the back. Chester is having a great game, forever getting his toe to the ball and constantly stopping the Black and White attacks. When they do find a way past Chester, then there’s Davies. Is it too much to suggest these could be one of the best City centre-back pairings? I’m not sure Turner & Zayette would compare and as for Sonko… A substitution for both sides sees Cisse replaced by Marveaux for Newcastle and Meyler on for Brady. Within a few minutes, Aluko gives City the lead. Huddlestone plays the ball wide to Rosenior, who passes up the line to Boyd. Boyd easily goes past his full-back, before crossing to the edge of the area, where Aluko’s lurking to hit a volley past Krul and into the net. After the match, many comments were comparing this to Windass’s volley at Wembley. Whilst I don’t believe it’s as good, it was a fantastic finish from an equally good move. With the lead gained, City again drop back to hold on to the three points, inviting more Newcastle possession. Ben Arfa drops deeper to try and gain possession, before being felled by Meyler. His free-kick is however passed short to Santon, who can only blast the ball at the City wall. Whilst Grahams goal scoring touch had deserted him, the Tiger support gave him a standing ovation when he was replaced by Sagbo, due to his strong target man play. Sagbo offered a bit more energy running up front, but with Newcastle penning City back he was an occasional outlet. Newcastle keep probing for an opening but every time, there’s Chester nicking the ball away. In the final minute of normal time, Davies breaks forward before passing to Huddlestone in an off-side position. Huddlestone decides to shoot after the whistle goes, thus seeing Atkinson book him for kicking the ball away. As the clock reaches 90, Newcastle find themselves a very good chance to get level. A cross from the right finds Sissoko free at the back post. Surely there can only be one outcome. But no, there’s another as he directs his shot wide of the post and off the advertising hoardings. Before McGregor can take his goal kick, Chester goes down, holding the top of his leg. After treatment, Huddlestone fills in at centre-back with Chester returning to run about up front. This however proves useless with Chester then having to hobble off with a hamstring injury. By now, McGregor is obviously taking his time over every kick, to the frustration of the remaining home support. A great break by Meyler relieves the pressure on the defence, before winning a free kick by the corner flag. Sissoko’s frustration gets the better of him as he pushes out at Sagbo, to also find his name taken. A final chance comes after a long Newcastle ball into the box, which is held by McGregor, and congratulated by Davies, much like Brown on Myhill at the end of the Playoff game. The final whistle is then greeted in the away end by Total Tiger Mayhem, whilst on the pitch we once again get to see Elmohamady’s ‘Uncle at a wedding’ dance. The match was therefore a great win for City, whilst walking away from the ground, the home fans didn’t seem too despondent, having heard of Sunderland’s latest defeat. So from a run of 26 away games in top flight without a win, to a run of a 1 game winning run. Things keep looking up on the pitch

Luton Town 2 Hull City 3

Another decent away performance yields three points, this time at Luton as a poor early start is transformed by three first half goals and a strong second half rearguard action.

Do you have any pre-match rituals? Strange things you do on a match day that you feel inspires City to victory. On a similar theme, are there any omens you have that indicate a poor City result? I’m only asking, as I do, and I do feel it’s quite a strange one. Before the games, I go to the pub to loosen up ready for the game, and yet this does run a small risk. You see the brewers Everads produce a beer named Tiger. Now given its name, you would have thought it’d be a lucky sign, however for me, seeing this rather nice brew before a game result in a defeat for City. Travelling to Luton, I was fearful, you see, the pub I was travelling to had Everads Tiger beer-mats before last seasons defeat at Luton. But the good news I’ll now tell you was that on arrival in Luton, we’d found the pub had closed down, so with a replacement quickly found, it didn’t stock this drink. Perhaps this would be a good day for the Tigers.

With good luck now on our side, we fielded an unchanged team from the mid-week Coventry defeat

Myhill
France Cort Collins Delaney
Ellison Welsh Andrews Elliott
Parkin Duffy

City were wearing their traditional black and amber shirts, but a change to white shorts to avoid the clash with Luton’s shorts (does that really matter?), we set off attacking the goal at the opposite end of the pitch.

The now common kick off routine of hoofing the ball to the right wing saw the ball headed back to the Luton keeper, Beresford, who then launched the ball forward straight to Brkovic who from 20 or so yards shot straight at Myhill for a comfortable save.

Some clever passing throughout the Luton team set the early tone for the match, and it wasn’t until 5 minutes had passed by that we had a good attempt on the Luton goal. Some clever play between Parkin and Duffy saw Luton clear the ball for a throw in, the resulting throw coming to the left of the box, where a foul gave us a free-kick. From my position it did look like the Luton wall had left a gap that a right-footed free-kick taker could have bent the ball around, however Andrews shot ended up high in the stand

Again more neat passing from Luton presented the ball to Brkovic who’d advanced into our area. He then did seem to dither somewhat before France got over to him to block his shot.

A minute later, Luton go ahead. A pass from right-back towards Ellison’s right-side leaves him wrong footed, as a result, Luton gain possession, where the ball is played to Howard who crosses to our back post finding Keane who scores at the back post.

Straight away from the kick-off Elliott crosses the ball to the back post, where a corner is won. From this, Ellison hits the ball long, beyond the far post to see Cort head it back into the mix before having it cleared.

More Luton pressure sees them getting a corner, Howard gets in front of Myhill and heads the ball onto the base of the post. With the possession Luton are getting now, we do seem to be struggling, and are getting worried that Luton could get a hatful.

But then, this being football, such an event can turn the game on it’s head. A push on Parkin gives us a free-kick about 20 yards (and to the right) from the Luton goal. Andrew plays the ball from this free-kick to his left to the unmarked Elliott, who unleashed a fierce drive past the despairing hand of Beresford and into the back of the net.

A couple of penalty appeals, one for both sides are turned down by the referee, but the latter ended up with Duffy appealing a little too hard to the referee and received a card for his troubles.

Luton cross the ball from deep, where Delaney concedes a corner, the corner is hit towards the front post, where Andrews clears, which is then played to the Luton captain, Nicholls, who’s shot is tipped over by Myhill. This corner then ends up with us getting a free-kick after Boaz was flattened. As this was prepared to be taken, one of those moments everyone enjoys in the game happens, when the ref falls over.

Following a challenge on Welsh, we get another free-kick on the edge of the Luton box, much like the one early in the game it’s to the left, with the Luton wall again apparently leaving a wide gap to the right of the goal. This time Elliott takes the free-kick, and hits it straight into the wall.

A few minutes later, we take the initiative and go ahead. On the half way line, Welsh plays the ball back to Delaney deep in our half. He plays the ball long up the wing for Elliott to chase. Elliott then plays a neat 1-2 with Parkin, who’s on the corner of the box with Elliott getting to the dead ball line. A low cross into the box in met about 2 yards out by Duffy who had ghosted in between 2 defenders to slot nicely into the back of the net

From that, Luton almost get the scores back level. Vine takes the ball along the edge of the box, with no City defender getting close enough, but a very poor shot sees the ball go high and wide

Ellison gains possession of the ball on the right wing at about the half way line. He advances down the wing, evading a couple of challenges, ad he gets to the dead ball line, he then cuts inside, continuing his run deep into the box, before passing to Parkin at the near post who slots it home. Whilst Parkin celebrates his goal, most of his team mates run to Ellison to congratulate his for his marvellous run. Of course that did sum up Kev’s day. We know he’s not the most skilful player, but even playing out of position on the right, he was a very willing runner, and worked very hard. I suspect a couple more games such as this that he may gain a bit more confidence, and we could see much better play from him.

As I suggested at the start, perhaps Lady Luck was smiling on us yesterday. You would have struggled to find a better example of this than just before the half time whistle that a sliced Delaney clearance saw Howard take the ball on the left. A low cross into the area had Myhill come out to collect the ball. Our COTL misjudged the flight of the ball a bit, so instead of catching the thing, it bounced off his head to be cleared.

Throughout the first half, I’d suggest that Luton had the much better of the play. Most of their passes went straight to their own player, whilst we struggled a bit. However for all their nice play, it all utterly broke down when they reached the edge of our area. Be this through stout defending, or the presence of Myhill they seemed to have limited end produce. That said, we were playing longer balls into the channels for Elliott and Ellison to chase, and it’s these that really caused Luton problems.

Into the second half, France was replaced by Wiseman at right-back.

The second half went on in much the same way as the first. Luton playing lots of neat passes to feet, but struggling to penetrate our box. In the meantime, City seemed to have lost their attacking side of the play, so for much of the time, we were on the back foot.

On one of our few attempts, Parkin on the half way line heads to Ellison, who advanced up the right wing before trying to play the ball into Duffy, but a block wins us a corner. This is then played short to Andrews, who tries to play it into the area before it’s cleared. Delaney then tried to win back possession but fouls the Luton player and is booked for his troubles. This free kick is played towards our back post, where Collins is waiting to clear the ball off the line.

Luton’s passing is still causing us trouble, particularly from the tall Showunmi, who does have spells of controlling the midfield, so it is a surprise when a triple Luton substitution sees him as one of the players to come off. From this point, Luton’s play sees longer and more direct passing. That said, they still struggle to have much penetration of our area.

An example would be following a poor header by Cort towards Wiseman gives them possession before Wiseman recovers to concede the corner. The first corner is headed wide by Ellison for another, where Myhill tips over the second and the third is put wide for a goal kick.

It does appear that at this early stage of the half that Wiseman is struggling somewhat at right-back. Whether it was this that caused Ellison to have a few words with the bench as he walked past, or just pointing out to the management that we’re struggling with this back to the wall defending, I cannot say.

With 20 minutes left to play, a foul in the centre-circle on Andrews wins us a free-kick. The ball is played deep into the area for Collins to head to the edge of the box to Ellison, who hits a fierce shot that Beresford did very well to keep out. One Tiger-Chat member suggested I should give that as a goal to Kev as he had done very well, but we need to keep this report factually correct!

Fagan then replaced Duffy, and in typical Fagan style, he worked hard for the remaining minutes, constantly putting pressure on the Luton defenders when they had possession.

Yet another free-kick is won just outside the Luton box after Parkin gets flattened, with the resulting Andrews free-kick well saved by Beresford. A quick ball up the Luton left sees their winger easily pass Wiseman before crossing low to Howard at the back post. His shot sees the netting billow, but unfortunately for those celebrating in the Luton ‘conservatory’ boxes, he’d actually put it narrowly wide.

With time ticking away for the Bedfordshire side, Ellison gets a well deserved round of applause by the travelling Tiger support (numbering quite close to the away end capacity of 2,000), as he’s replaced by Paynter.

Shortly afterwards Luton get a glimmer of hope. A ball into the box sees Collins concede a corner. With this played back in, more Stout tigerish defending sees the ball go out of the area to the right, before it’s crossed back in to the waiting Coyne who had no defending player near him, which gave him plenty of time to head into the back of the net.

Within a minute, Luton are threatening again. Elliott concedes a free-kick which requires the combined efforts of Paynter and Fagan to clear. A later clearance to Fagan sees him miss control the ball, but it’s this that wrong-foots the Luton defender that gives Fagan time to recover and get a shot away.

The three minutes of time added on see Luton continue to press, but more solid defending and long hoofed clearances keep the scores at 3-2.

After the final whistle, Fagan heads towards the Luton port-a-cabins, holding his finger to his lips, making a ‘shush’ gesture. Now whilst certain Premier League clubs would have seen this as an utter crime, the box residents to whom this was aimed at seemed to find this quite amusing. Apparently as Fagan had warmed up, there was some comments from the people involved.

With that win now firmly in the bag, I feel safe enough to go and find myself a nice celebratory pint of Tiger Beer.

HULL CITY (4-4-2): Myhill; France, Cort, Collins, Delaney; Ellison, Andrews, Welsh, Elliott; Parkin, Duffy. Subs: Wiseman (for France, 45), Fagan (for Duffy, 71), Paynter (for Ellison, 80), Green, Aspden.

Goals: Elliott 14; Duffy 35; Parkin 38

Booked: Delaney, Duffy, Myhill

Sent Off: None

 

LUTON TOWN: Beresford, Keane, Coyne, Heikkinen, Foley, Brkovic, Showumni, Nicholls, Edwards, Vine, Howard. Subs: Morgan (for Brkovic, 55), Bell (for Showumni, 55), Feeney (for Vine, 55), Brill, Barnett.

Goals: Keane 9; Coyne 86

Booked: None

Sent Off: None

 

REFEREE: K Friend

ATTENDANCE: 8,835