Hull City 4 Bolton Wanderers 0

I was unduly worried by the visit of Bolton Wanderers. Worried because though they’re newly promoted and under transfer restrictions, it seemed just our luck that City would go into the game with only one fit striker – Diomande. When Leonid Slutsky named the same team that finished at QPR last week, I was worried further. But I say unduly because Bolton were absolutely garbage and City brushed them aside with atypical ease.

City 3-4-3
McGregor
Dawson – Hector – Mazuch
Aina – Meyler – Larsson – Clark
Bowen – Diomande – Grosicki

It might have been the same names that finished the game at QPR but it was obvious from the first minute that they’d worked hard at the system. The three centre halves were well spread while Grosicki and Bowen played narrow alongside Diomande and left the channels clear for overlapping full backs. Meyler picked up a yellow card for a late challenge after ten mins and then City took the lead and never looked back. Hector went through one of theirs to win the ball off another and then sprung Grosicki on the counter in a style new England call-up Harry Maguire would be proud of. Grosicki drove past Dervite with ease and poked the ball into Diomande who lashed the ball into the roof of the net [1-0]. He’s the butt of all the jokes but Diomande started well with some honest running in behind and good pressing of their centre halves in possession and got his rewards.

McGregor made a decent save with his right boot from sub Pratley who replaced Karacan (who I think was the victim of the Meyler challenge) and then made a far less convincing save with his shoulder after appearing to misjudge a bounce. If Bolton thought they were coming back into the game, they were wrong. A lightening quick counter saw Diomande hold the ball up, play in Grosicki and he delivered from the left with the outside of his right boot onto the head of Bowen [2-0]. A pair of assists for Grosicki who it appears might be a flat-track bully and the Championship has a lot of flat tracks. The cynical amongst you might be wondering why, with six days left in the transfer window and being the only high value player left at the club from last season, Grosicki was putting on a show. I’ve no idea.

If anyone was watching Grosicki, the best was still to come as he received the ball in their half, murdered Dervite for pace again, cut inside and slotted the ball into the bottom right hand corner [3-0]. This report can skip on 60 minutes now because that was game over. Bolton, who are as poor a side as we’re likely to see this season, surrendered and made it their mission to escape with just a three-nil defeat. Phil Parkinson must hate the KC(OM) Stadium. City didn’t exactly bust a gut to try and add to the score content to stroke the ball around and take the occasional counter. Mazuch had a decent game on his home debut with good use of the ball and a couple of nice interceptions. Meyler and Larsson in front had fine games too. Larsson showed an ability to make a forward pass that we often lack while Meyler took great responsibility for organising around the middle and passed the ball simply and effectively. It was a mature showing from two of the few experienced pros we’ve got – once Meyler had killed on of theirs like.

Grosicki should have made another chance for Diomande but delayed his pass and the Norwegian was offside by the time it eventually came. Bowen forced a save with a decent shot from distance and then a defender took one off Diomande’s head with the goal begging after McGregor had launched a quick counter and Aina surged 80 yards down the pitch before delivering a near-perfect cross.

Half time: Hull City 3 Bolton Wanderers 0.

The second half was a non-event. Bolton had eleven behind the ball for the most part and City weren’t open to taking risks to try and break them down. Some in the crowd got frustrated but I enjoyed watching us pass the ball around hapless opposition while Hector rehearsed pushing into midfield to make an extra-man when we had the ball and Seb Larsson practiced his diagonal balls from deep positions. A Bolton fan got fed up of watching his team be rubbish and got himself thrown out of the North Stand. City announced a 16,000+ crowd (but only on Twitter) of which about 3,000 came dressed as black seats. There was plenty of anti-Allam feeling expressed by the fans who were there. It didn’t put the players off to the best of my knowledge.

Left back Stephen Kingsley made a Hull City debut for the last quarter of an hour replacing Max Clark and midfielder Jon Toral followed suit, on for David Meyler. Our last sub provided some unintentional comedy as the board went up for number seven and Seb Larsson, who wore that number at Sunderland, jogged off applauding the crowd’s standing ovation only to be told when he got to the touchline that Kamil Grosicki is number seven here. Sorry Seb.

James Weir came on and provided a little bit of impetus for City to finish the game strongly. McGregor made a routine save at his near post from Armstrong and within a minute, Jarrod Bowen had bagged his fourth goal of the season. He made a lovely run in behind the defence and was found by Diomande with a beautiful through ball. Bowen stayed calm and finished like Andy Payton in his pomp [4-0]. He’s the real deal this kid. With the formation allowing he and Grosicki to be lazy without harming the team, they were just far, far too good for Bolton.

Full time: Hull City 4 Bolton Wanderers 0

It’s hard work this first month of the season after relegation. Every defeat feels like a disaster. Signings can never be made quick enough. Every player leaving is a crisis and every player performing well is potentially the next one to go. From out of the darkness of two successive league defeats, a new day dawns and it’s showing promise. There are players arriving to fill the threadbare squad. Most a good age and of sufficient quality to improve. We’re not building a side that will walk through the Championship but one that with a bit of luck and steady improvement should be closer to the top than the bottom.

There may still be one big “crisis” to overcome though. Grosicki is the only player left who I was certain back in June would be sold. He divides opinion, mainly due to his attitude, but there’s no doubt that he has pace that will terrify teams in this division. He might just have come good at the right time for him and the wrong one for us.

Hull City 4 Carlisle United 0

Murder on the dance floor.  Steve Weatherill reports on how the twinkle toed Tigers clobbered the lead-booted Cumbrians.
Sometimes, though not always, a scoreline faithfully reflects the pattern of the match, and, on this Ark afternoon, it thumped truly into the bullseye. City deserved four, Carlisle deserved none, and we streamed away beaming with glee as we scanned upcoming fixtures with anticipation rather than apprehension. Two League wins in a row, a hat-trick for refreshed centre-forward Gary Alexander, a combined team performance that brooked no argument from flayed Cumbrians; we’re up, and we’re running. 2002/03, watch out, the Tigers are coming, and no, Colin Welland, it is not your ghost that I summon. Green replaced Appleby but otherwise Mr Molby stuck with the side that had begun against Leicester in mid-week, so wielding the scimitar were:

Glennon Regan Whittle Anderson Smith Green Keates Ashbee Williams Jevons Alexander

Since the pre-match minute’s silence has now become the rule rather than the exception, I pledge myself to alert you to it only when it does NOT occur, and yesterday was such an occasion. This weekend marks the 20th anniversary of the slaughter of over 2,000 refugees, innocent men, women and children, in the camps of Sabra and Chatilla in Lebanon, a war crime perpetrated by local militia with the active support of the invading Israeli army. There was no minute’s silence for the dead at Boothferry Park yesterday. Still, not to worry, eh? No exciting telly footage of that atrocity to jog our memory, and they were only unarmed dead brown people after all, and there’ll be plenty more of them in the Middle East in the next few months. To the football, as you may prefer, and we began kicking towards a knot of 250 or so Carlisle fans on the North Stand. Three Irish tricolours fluttered in their midst as they celebrated the significant Celtic input into their club that has followed the demise of the Knighton regime. The game was very slow to take any sort of shape. Carlisle had come to spoil. They did it quite effectively. They were well-organised. Midfield was snarled up. Foran, up-front for the visitors, was immensely lively, sprinting from side to side and flashing a cheeky grin at the Kempton whenever he came close to the touchline. Stuart Green nipped inside on to his left foot to deliver our first attempt on target, but the shot swung easily straight into the keeper’s safe hands. Twenty minutes in, and this was poor fare. Whereupon we were allocated a cherry-topped slice of outrageous good fortune. A Williams cross from the left looped into the air and was clutched under his crossbar by the Carlisle goalkeeper. Alexander jumped hopefully, but he was too late to get his head on the ball, and his momentum took him forward where his shoulder collided with the ball, dislodging it from the keeper’s grasp. It rolled apologetically into the net, and the referee, surely about to smile wryly and award a free-kick against a sheepish Gary Alexander, instead sent gales of laughter sweeping around the three black-and-amber sides of the ground as he allowed the goal. If Carlisle were Italy, they’d be giving it the “It’s a worldwide conspiracy against us! The ref’s bent!” nonsense. They aren’t, but I expect they’re still pretty annoyed. The goal seemed to have allowed us to slip into a pleasing rhythm as Green and Williams, in particular, began to float the ball around the pitch with growing confidence, but this was only a fleeting glimpse of improved quality, and the game retreated to a sterile pattern, punctuated only by occasional one-off attacks at either end. Carlisle advanced down the left and crossed the ball in low – a Glennon fuble, a Whittle hoof. Then McGill, one of several nippy Cumbrian Irishmen, darted forward in space and shot over the top from outside the penalty box. For us, a Green/ Alexander combination whipped the ball into the Carlisle net, but a justified offside flag pegged us back. Half-time arrived, and it hadn’t been very good, but we held a lead that would, we hoped, allow us to settle into a more positive frame of mind for the second period. And that is just how it turned out. 1-0 after 45 became 4-0 after 90; we could have had more as we ransacked the Carlisle defence. The second half was a gratifying demonstration of how to exploit a small advantage and convert it into a large one. We mauled them. Smith took a throw-in deep in Carlisle territory, close by the corner flag at the junction of Kempton and Bunkers. Williams received possession and floated a delightful cross on to Gary Alexander’s forehead and he, having scampered clear of his bemused marker, flicked a delicate header beyond the flailing keeper’s fingers. 2-0 and, very obviously, more to come. We dominate. Williams races through; the keeper smothers the ball at his feet. Dudfield replaces Jevons who has taken a knock and has had his least effective match so far. Keates makes a rare unforced error to lose possession in midfield but Carlisle are so surprised to have a glimpse of the ball outside of their own half that they are quickly persuaded to give it back to us. Glennon is a bored spectator – I cannot, off-hand, remember him touching the ball at all in the second half. Edwards comes on for Regan and it is all City. There is something deeply satisfying about seeing opponents skulking around, dishevelled and depressed, desperate only to get off the pitch and re-focus themselves on the next game when, they wearily hope, the other team will be more accommodating. Carlisle knew we were too good for them and they were pining for their grimy Border hometown. From the Tiger perspective, the most encouraging feature of this game and of the two-and-a-half that preceded it is our evident and rapid improvement, both individually and collectively. All four defenders look convincing. Whittle’s frill-free excellence we know about; Anderson’s rugged and committed contribution is also on a fast track to becoming taken for granted. Regan and Smith are sound and steady, the latter, rightly maligned for his utter bewilderment when asked to perform the very basics of defending throughout August, having blossomed with remarkable elegance and good sense now that September has cooled the land. Ashbee and Keates, in central midfield, came out of confrontation with very capable opponents in the Leicester game well into credit, and continued their profit-making yesterday. Keates, in particular, seems to improve game in, game out, and now looks a man we could usefully acquire long-term. It gives me no particular pleasure to make the comparison, but the current Keates zest outshines anything the departed Mark Greaves had offered from midfield for many long, subdued and now forgotten months. And then there’s Ryan Williams, whose inspirational current form is – finally – proof that Chesterfield didn’t sell us a pup after all, there’s the imaginative Green and the returning Appleby, a lean and hungry Gary Alexander, spiced with the droolworthy prospect of Stuart Elliott emerging from his injury lay-off. Admittedly, we still face a potential goalkeeping problem, and the identity of Alexander’s preferred striking partner has yet to be conclusively revealed, but overall Mr Molby is entitled to feel he is steering us in the right direction, and quite quickly. But Carlisle have yet to be tortured some more. Williams crosses beyond Alexander to Dudfield, who slips the ball to the advancing Keates whose dangerous cross just eludes Green, hurtling forward on a powerful surge from midfield. Green has wisely decided to quit the right touchline for the centre of the pitch where he can do, and is doing, real damage. Ashbee too is enjoying the unaccustomed opportunity to wade into the opposition half. A third goal is imminent and, pleasingly, it completes the Alexander hat-trick. Edwards wins the ball and slides it forward to Green who releases a striker’s dream ball, into space behind a tired defence. Alexander has started his charge from his own half, so can’t be offside despite the feeble appeals of the visiting defenders, and with plenty of time to take aim he strokes an utterly confident low shot past the keeper’s left hand and into the net. Jubilation all round, and the only outstanding issue now is exactly how many goals we’re going to rip past Carlisle. Johnson is on (for Alexander) and looking typically vigorous, and Williams is flowing down the left. Ashbee and Green combine to provide a opportunity for Dudfield down the inside left channel, but the Dude is judged offside – unconvincingly. There is, however, one more treat in store and it will be scoffed by our wayward striking enigma. A corner from Williams is watched with mournful disinterest by the Carlisle defence, and Dudfield leaps eagerly to smash a header into the back of the net. 4-0. About right. Macc next. They’ll suffer.

HULL CITY: Glennon, Regan, Whittle, Anderson, Smith, Green, Ashbee, Keates, Williams, Alexander, Jevons.  Subs: Dudfield (for Jevons, 61), Edwards (for Regan, 67), Johnson (for Alexander, 67), Musselwhite, Bradshaw Goals: Alexander 20 49 73, Dudfield 78 Booked: None Sent Off: None   CARLISLE UNITED: Keen, Birch, Kelly, Whitehead, Shelley, Molloy, Summerbell, Galloway, McGill, Foran, Nixon.  Subs: Jack (for Galloway, 27), Slaven (for Nixon, 55), Wake (for Foran, 75), Andrews, Naisbitt Goals: None Booked: Foran, Kelly, Summerbell Sent Off: none   ATTENDANCE: 8,461