Doncaster 2 Hull City 0

Any walker will tell you that even the wintriest and most fleeting shaft of sunshine can briefly illuminate the bleakest of landscapes. It needn’t last long, and it may change very little; but you savour it nonetheless.

Savour this League Cup defeat at Doncaster, my friends. Marvel at our 2-0 loss to a side we were three divisions above last season. Because we are Hull City AFC, beset by malice, and there’s really nothing else we can do.

The ever-churning social media informs us of the team an hour before kick-off. With the exception of the redoubtable Rick Skelton and his hardy band of U23 regulars, who can truthfully say they’d heard of more than half of them? My wife notes that she taught one. None of them will remember the Smiths, Pulp, Cool Britannia, Boothferry Park or trebles for singles in Sharkeys. It transpires that the average age of the side is 19 years and 11 months. You don’t need to be particularly old to suddenly feel it.

They were, for the record:

Mannion; Lenihan (c), Clackstone, McKenzie, Fleming, Annan, Weir, Batty, Hamilton, Olley, Luer.

Seven City debuts, and a side captained by 23 year old Brian Lenihan, now a veteran of four first team games in England. Robbie McKenzie, wearing the famous #37 shirt, was a nice lad at school, incidentally.

We began with the City youths kicking away from the 2,000+ away fans, and they started terrifically. Composed in possession and fighting nerves and a much weightier Doncaster side in a way that made you feel a gulping pride, they stuck it out then started to play. And they could play as well, with lots of neat interplay, assured touches and smart one-twos.

The City fans roared their encouragement, breaking off only to pour torrents of scorn on the Allam family. “Where’s the money gone” was a familiar entreaty. Well, when Andy Medcalf publishes the next set of accounts we may find some interesting answers, though forensic accountancy skills aren’t required to observe the difference between income and expenditure on football players. In the meantime, an invitation to stand up if you hate Allam found very few willing to remain seated. The vitriol was universal, by a distance the greatest at any match thus far.

Doncaster pressed their way back into the game, and began to create opportunities of their own. They were unlucky to not score shortly before the break when some defensive uncertainty led to a shot smacking the inside of Mannion’s right hand post; luckily it bounced to safety.

Still, the kids stuck it out and made it half-time, an achievement rapturously received by the Tiger Nation. We began to wonder if a shock victory against Doncaster Rovers was even possible.

It was not. The home side scored early in the second half, and then shortly after, and dreams of a famous win in South Yorkshire were replaced by the gloomy possibility of these willing but cruelly exposed young lads taking a wholly undeserved shoeing.

Leonid Slutsky must have wondered the same. Asked to wave a few times by the supporters who are pained at the colossal betrayal he is experiencing, there was nothing he could do. His bench was nothing but even younger youngsters; no gnarled old pros on there to offer a bit of guidance. On we went.

And on the youth went, too. Heads briefly sagged but didn’t reach critical drooping status. Mannion kept things respectable when they threatened to not be, making two fine saves that, from our distant vantage, appeared to also strike the frame of the goal. And the boys rallied, and reapplied themselves, and kept going. By now, tiredness was clearly an issue and some of the neat football of earlier had been replaced by slightly hopeful long balls that were all too easy for actual grown ups to deal with, but not one of them gave up.

I wonder if the targets of David Meyler’s ire for non-trying were watching?

City made a couple of changes and towards the end Greg Luer slashed a shot wide when an appealing City move cut open the Doncaster defence – a shame, as even though the result was a fair one, a goal would have been just reward. But it wasn’t to be. City went down 2-0, but the boys were cheered off at the end anyway.

It’s funny to take pride in such an evening, but it shows that all isn’t lost. No matter what, there’ll always be young players itching to make a professional debut; their collective sense of pride in finally making a Hull City AFC debut was demonstrated in gushingly enthusiastic social media utterances that brought a smile on the way home. You were a credit to yourselves and your families, young men.

And the City fans were ace too. There’ve been times in the past when we’ve been just about all the club has left, and if the Allam family has its way we’ll be there again soon. But an angry, defiant, and passionate night’s work acted as a reminder that as long as we give a toss, there’ll always be a Hull City. And if it doesn’t look much like the one that realised our dreams between 2004 and 2014, then never mind. It’s ours, not theirs, and however hard they try, they’ll never destroy us.

Andy

Hull City 2 Cardiff City 2

If I had pitched today’s events as an aspiring scriptwriter to Hollywood as a thriller full of twists and turns I would have been sent away to make it a bit more believable. This is the way it really happened honest Guv. A week ago it felt like any dreams of promotion were over, the play offs looked nailed on and talk of if we had been offered 3rd at the start of the season we would have bit your hand off. Men of steel have gradually melted into puddles of mercury and nails bitten to the quick. Did anyone really believe we would progress through the lottery of the play offs, Saturday was surely our final chance and we are in our poorest run of form this season. Writing a cheque to book my own seat for the semi-final was the moment I finally succumbed to the collywobbles and believed the end of the world was nigh. Leeds of all teams would hold our destiny in their hands, still sitting comfortably? A FLAG meeting in the morning and talk of themed stands, SMC’s and the future of season tickets just cranked up the tension although Linton Brown running around with coffee and bacon banjos set the surreal scene for the rest of the day. So on to the final game of the season? Early reports are that Koren is not fit and will play no part. Humberside are reporting we are going 4-4-2 with Brady upfront. We arrive to a packed ground and the team is announced: Stockdale Rosenior                                  Faye                Chester                        McShane Elmo                                        Meyler             Quinn                          Boyd Brady                                      Simpson We start brightly Elmo shoots from distance and it’s deflected wide for a corner, Mcshane climbs highest from the corner and we get another corner but a foul ends our first spell of pressure. McShane whips in a cross just too high for the onrushing Simpson, Cardiff then threaten for the first time but Stockdale dives on a dangerous near post cross. Elmo goes on a mazy run puts in a decent cross but Cardiff are defending well. We crank up the pressure with a series of half chances a Quinn shot, Elmo putting in some decent crosses a shot deflected straight in to the keepers hands a great long ball by Meyler is well controlled on the chest by Brady but Cardiff again tackle well and the threat subsides. On 20 minutes Cardiff come close to breaking the deadlock a shot deflected inches from the far post. Stockdale throws out quickly to set up a quick break from Elmo and then neat interplay from Quinn and Boyd and a lay off from Simpson sets up Mcshane marauding down the left, his shot deflected out for yet another corner. Elmo and Rosenior combine with a quick combination of passes, Boyd releases Brady with a ball through and Brady curls a ball over the bar. Meyler bursts through the Cardiff midfield and is brought down, Brady strikes the resulting free kick straight in to the wall. We give away a soft free kick and Cardiff scare the horses for the second time but we are spared as the ball deflects wide again, Stockdale playing better today punches the corner well clear. Another well hit shot from the lively Brady is well pouched by Marshall in the Cardiff goal. Cardiff fans start singing 1-0 to the Watford and desperate attempts to find the score find no conformation. Then they announce 2-0 Watford and nobody seems to be able to find out what is happening. Cardiff whip in a decent cross but the colossus that is Faye heads clear. We finally hear from Watford and the news is good, Leeds have taken the lead, Cardiff fans just having a bit of fun at our expense the little scamps. We make our first change just before half time as Proschwitz replaces the injured Simpson. Brady again finds space to run and shoot but again just over. The whistle blows and we are still in it, 0-0 and playing well. We hear more from Watford, they are 16 minutes behind us following an injury to their replacement keeper. They have a child in goal now, we must now be favourites.  Bugger Watford equalise and it’s all on a knife edge again. We start still in Second but Watford not quite at half time, why are we not starting the second half at the same time? It’s a conspiracy we are doomed, doomed I tell you. Frazier comes on at half time and the feeling that the Gods are against us multiplies. Brady tip toes into the box and is felled, penalty please Mr Referee, Nothing doing and Boyd is closed down before he can get a shot away. On 49 minutes a long ball falls at the feet of Cambell, he skips past a despairing lunge and has our goal in his sights, he never looks like missing and slips the ball past the despairing dive of Stockdale. We are behind and dropped into 3rd place and thoughts turn to trips to Bolton, Forrest or Leicester on a Friday night. We respond brightly a Brady cross is headed just wide by Mcshane with Pros desperately sliding in to apply a finishing touch but missing by inches. Brady finds Proshwitz but he shoots weakly, the ball finds its way back to Brady who pulls back to Meyler and his shot is palmed away by Marshall. It’s Quinn who reacts quickest and edges out to the left of the box, he puts in a tempting cross and the German goal machine stretches to get there first and apply the killer touch. We are level as are Watford, we are going up possibly. It is now all City we are taking control and piling on the pressure, Quinn shoots but is deflected out for a corner. Brady whips in the corner, Mcshane flings himself at it and somehow ends up sliding the ball in from two feet out, we are ahead for the first time, cue pandemonium. Hull City A.F.C    2   The team formally known as the Bluebirds 1 We are going up…….Surely nothing can go wrong now. Cambell breaks clear but the mighty Faye steps in to maintain our lead. We continue to be a threat with efforts from Pros and Brady. We are starting to sit back as the clock ticks to 70 minutes and Bruce is urging us to push up. Cardiff get a free kick on the edge of our box, the wall stays strong and after a bit of panicking we clear the loose ball. We are now just clearing everything long and starting to look tired, Brady has run himself into the ground and is looking at the bench pleadingly. He is withdrawn for Fahti as we attempt to hang on, we hear that Watford are down to ten with Deeney sent off. Cardiff are irritatingly still giving it a proper go and only solid defending and Stockdale showing more command of his area than recently are keeping us sane. 4 minutes of stoppage time are announced, we are just a sensible few minutes away from automatic promotion. Meyler chases a ball through and is pushed over in the box, the Ref points to the spot we have a chance to wrap it up. The pitch is invaded as people think the game is over. It takes a while to clear and it is our German who steps up, Germans never miss penalties it’s an unwritten law of football. Bruce can’t watch he turns away we hold our breath and he hits it at waist height, Marshall guesses right and saves to his left. A minute later and a ball into our box comes off a knee and hits Faye’s upper arm, another penalty. This time it is calmly placed in the bottom corner and the scores are levelled. The final whistle blows and we are left in Limbo waiting for the end of the game at Watford. 15 minutes still to play and all our nerves are shot. A wander into the concourse and a quick nip out for a becalming fag and I can bear to look at the screens showing the updates from Sky. Leeds have taken the lead and now we must just wait for the final whistle, the stadium announcer keeps us up to date, stoppage time now at Watford, the big screen showing images of our players waiting for updates. Finally the final whistle goes at Watford, we have done it, we are Premier League. The players gave it everything and City fans just about managed to keep the faith, it was as good an atmosphere as I think we have ever seen at our new home. Congratulations and thanks are displayed to the Allams on banners by those on the pitch. We came so close to going bust again and after one of our best seasons and most exciting games are to dine at the top table, our owners, manager and players deserved nothing less in the end. We can now spend the summer watching cricket and enjoying the rumours of our new signings, I believe a certain Mr Rooney and Mr Bale are looking for moves.

Barnsley 2 Hull City 0

C’MON!! It’s still on! This wonderful team has given us a stream of unforgettable memories this season, it’s shown dazzling skill and imagination and a huge appetite for responding positively to adversity, it’s tough-minded, it’s brilliantly managed. We’re in the Play Offs at worst and, since the League table is incapable of lying, we are in them as the best team and, even more positively, it is still securely in our own amber and black hands to win promotion outright. A home win, a single home win, a deflection, a freak bounce, that is all we need right now. That is ALL we need! And, as my good friend Ed Bacon observed at the final whistle at Oakwell yesterday, ‘If anyone had offered us that at the start of the season, we’d’ve snapped their hand off, wouldn’t we Steve’. So! Onward Tigers fans, to next weekend, to glor ….     phhhttttt  …..  bzzzzzz  ….   mmmnnngghhh …..
Can’t do it any more. No. Sorry.
I mean, everything I have written in that opening paragraph is unarguably true – well, except the bit about Ed Bacon: in fact, as the whistle blew, eyes narrowed, he murmured ‘The frog at the bottom of the well sees only the sky’ and moved away through the monied ranks of all South Yorkshire’s police in a state of Zen calm. The rest of it though – terrific team, terrific season, still our prize to claim – is spot on. But it sounds hollow this morning.
This was a dreadful display.
We were tentative at Wolves. Leg-weary at home to Bristol City. At Barnsley we were tentative and leg-weary from start to finish, but you can throw in half-paced, unimaginative, completely and totally leaderless and sullen too, and add a pinch of gutless and unwilling to take responsibility on top as well.
It felt as bad as anything since the Dolan era.
I know that’s ridiculous. I know it’s a gross over-reaction. And I know that this time next week we might be a Premier League club, and none of this lament will matter a jot. But that’s how it felt, and that’s how it feels. Not a single player among our 14 was even satisfactory yesterday, and you really do have to trip back to the days of Dolan since we’ve been forced to dismiss the whole lot of them as sub-standard. That, however, was the sum total of yesterday’s horror show.
On a dark freezing cold midwinter afternoon in South Yorkshire, watched over by the sheeted dead gibbering in their ivy churchyards, ghouls and boggarts capering over the ice-gripped moors, and kestrels, blood-clawed kestrels every bloody where, we carded:
                        Stockdale
      Chester         Faye      McShane
Elmohamady                               Brady
                          Evans
                    Quinn    Meyler
                    Fryatt    Boyd
And the first five minutes of the match fizz with action and dynamism. Faye, newly installed as skipper, commits to a lunging tackle out wide. Fortunately his timing is perfect, and the ball scorches out of play to clatter against the hoardings. Then Boyd breaks down the left, but his square ball is rolled too close to ‘keeper Steele, who collects ahead of the advancing Meyler.
And then, after 4 minutes, they score. Time for one of theirs in central midfield, space to play an easy ball in behind our defence, Mellis in the inside right channel, a booming thunderous shot that thumps the underside of the bar and enters the net.
Stockdale was helpless. No blame there. Less so Evans, who is meant to defend the central three back-line, less so McShane, whose side of that central three was so woefully left exposed.
A minute later Boyd chips hopefully over the goalkeeper, but without conviction, and the effort is easily headed clear. And then very little happens for a long time.
Barnsley were watchful on both flanks, carefully offering neither Brady nor Elmo any invitation to surge into space. Or even amble into space. Yesterday, ‘surging’ we emphatically did not do. And Barnsley flooded midfield, making life difficult for Corry Evans in particular, and aimed to dominate possession. Which they did do, successfully, convincingly.
Barnsley had a clear game plan, and executed it cleanly. We looked tired, slow and shapeless, and inflexible too. No Plan B. Not much of a Plan A either. Barnsley were well worth this win.
Poor Quinn must surely be carrying an injury. He hardly touched the ball. This is not the dynamic and skilful midfielder who has lit up this season with his consistent excellence. Meyler was just about the most lively of our midfield trio, but all of the Barns were his superior. Brady rarely looked able to snap the home side’s shackles. Elmo never did, not even once. The pace and menace down the flanks with which we’ve tormented teams this season is vanished. James Chester looks terrified when the ball comes close to him unless it’s in the air. He has zero confidence in his first touch, and wastes possession as if it’s his religion. Our strikers? They’ve stopped striking. There is no hint of them starting again.
No one leads. Faye has the armband but he’s not a shouter and he is anyway far too genial a chap. Right now we need someone in this side to put the fear of God into persistent non-performers. Ashbee could do it, Barmby and Windass too. It’s down to Steve Bruce here.
It’s a tired, bitty, messy affair. Boyd bibbles a weak 25 yarder straight at the keeper half way through, but otherwise half-time is reached with the Tigers having shown no threat in the final third at all. And it could have got even worse in the two added minutes when Noble-Lazarus, a scion of a minor Silesian branch of the Habsburgs, wanders through four – four! – feeble attempts to tackle before shooting wide. At the break the consolation is only that it’s just a single goal deficit.
Boyd has loped around ineffectually, but Fryatt has been largely static and entirely valueless, so whereas the arrival of Simpson straight after the break is no surprise, the exclusion of the Scottish internationalist ahead of last season’s obviously-still-not-fit top scorer definitely is. Simpson offers energy but no finesse, but since the first period brought neither, he’s a welcome entrant.
Brady delivers a free-kick on 46 from wide on the right which results in a looping header easily held by Steele, but if we are hoping for a perkier performance consequent on a Bruce dressing-room grilling, then we are to be disappointed. On 50 it’s 2-0. Far too much time and space is allowed to theirs in an advanced position and O’Grady, one of the home side’s several lively and impressive midfielders, thumps a shot from right to left and past Stockdale.
The shot didn’t fly into the far corner. It was close enough to Stockdale’s right hand for him to have made a much better effort to stop it. The same was true of Kevin Doyle’s decisive goal at Wolves the week before last, which was similarly a shot that didn’t rip into the corner of the net but instead was saveable, albeit that on that occasion it was Stockdale’s left mitt that was left flapping in vain.
It was horrible to watch now. When we got the ball (rarely), we gave it away (routinely). Every City head had dropped.
Entertainment was taken where we could find it, largely in the shape of hostilities breaking out between City fans, including one spectacularly vivid incident in which one angry chap promised his aggressor that he would ‘phone him up tomorrow and sort him out’. Marvin Hagler v Tommy Hearns it wasn’t.
Proschwitz, who is useless, replaced Fryatt, who is not but was yesterday.
No movement, no passing, no support for team-mates. Ball lumped aimlessly forward. Why are we doing this, after a season of success achieved through playing properly? Self-belief has shrunk so far, it is invisible now.
Evans is removed on 78 in favour of Rosenoir, who heads to left-back and we convert to a species of 4-4-42. Too late. Maybe 78 minutes too late. The players are looking too jaded to inject the fierce pace that is required to make a 3-5-2 system work both going forward and defensively, and anyway opponents now know exactly how we are going to play and plan accordingly. Barnsley did. Cardiff will.
An Elmo cross almost hits Proschwitz on the head but fortunately the big German is able to turn his head away from contact with the ball and avoid any risk of facial bruising. On 80 the poor love is forced to apply his Kopf to the ball when free inside the box but fortunately he doesn’t seem to be hurt at all and he kindly directs the header safely and softly over the crossbar to preclude any risk of the goalkeeper’s gloves getting dirty.
Terrible stuff from Proschwitz, who also punts a lame little shot feebly wide a bit later on. Which means that, for all his failings, Proschwitz at least accumulated more sights on goal in his half an hour on the pitch yesterday than the rest of our strikers combined. Maybe more than they’ve managed in the last three matches in total. Our forward famine is truly dismal.
On 83 McShane applies his head properly to a Brady corner, but his effort flies over the top. And we are done (for). Game over.
Steve Bruce walked off ahead of most of the players and acknowledged the supporting chants aimed at him by the fans in the section I was in, fairly close to the tunnel. And, of course, he deserves our support. We have 78 points and have done a whole bunch of wonderful things this long season. And we have one game left. Minimum. Mr Bruce would doubtless observe that we just have to dust waselves doon and go again, and it is a practice I commend to you this bleak Sunday morning.
I didn’t enjoy yesterday, and I didn’t enjoy writing this. I doubt I will enjoy next Saturday.
steve weatherill

Hull City 0 Bristol City 0

This is not a season report. It’s a match report. If it was a season report, I might point out that City are in an historically fantastic position, requiring at most just one win to take us back to the Premier League. Quite possibly we might need less than that, given the slump in form of Watford and Crystal Palace in recent weeks. We might even be promoted today (Saturday), if Watford lose and Palace draw or lose. Nothing is settled yet, but it’s looking like being one of the greatest seasons – some are saying the greatest season – in the club’s 109 year history. But this is a match report, not a season report. And tonight (Friday) Hull City were dire. Playing against the official worst team in the division, already relegated Bristol City, the Tigers looked anything but promotion material. Gone were the fluent passing and lightning raids down the wings that have characterised much of our play in recent months, in came the long and high hoof, and the selfish show-boating solo run into trouble. We served up a spectacle which must have had many a Sky Sports viewer channel-surfing in the hope of finding something a little easier on the eye. Our one genuine goal-scoring chance came in the 92nd minute of a 0-0 draw lacking incident, quality, and anything likely to excite the neutral. For us City fans, it was an evening of nervous frustration. We’re wheel-spinning on the verge of promotion to the Premier League. Playing as if they’d only been introduced to each other in the tunnel before the game were: Stockdale Chester Faye Hobbs Elmohamady Boyd Meyler Quinn Brady Gedo Fryatt It’s a mild spring evening, and the game kicks off with City playing towards a North Stand containing a few dozen hardy Bristol fans, and a few hundred City supporters (possibly recipients of free tickets?). There’s a bit of an atmosphere in the KC. Not much of one though. Some sections of the crowd try to pick things up a bit, get a few a songs going, but after ten minutes or so it’s not really happening in the stands. This is a metaphor for what’s unfolding on our muddy and rutted pitch. In the opening 30 seconds of the game there’s a quick and slick attack, with the returning Matty Fryatt reminding us of his skills. It comes to nothing, and in rapid succession City launch three long balls out of defence. What’s going on? That’s not how City play. It’s not how we’ve got to second in the league. Even when it’s looked dangerous to do so, we’ve insisted on playing the ball out of defence and building attacks with close passing and running off the ball. Tonight though, we’ve started playing the long ball. There’s the odd flash of more intricate skill, but nothing to threaten Heaton in the Bristol goal. On 7 minutes Gedo runs down the inside right channel and pulls the ball back to Boyd, on the edge of the box, but Boyd’s weak shot is blocked. On the half hour Gedo is again involved in a couple of neat passing moves. First he has a quick one-two with Quinn, but runs into a Robins defender. Then he receives the ball from Meyler and passes it on to Elmohamady, whose cross from the right comes to nothing. That’s more or less it in terms of playing our normal game in the first half. Everything else is either the long and high pass, or the solo run into trouble. Fryatt has a dinky little foray past a couple of defenders on 28 minutes. Before that, the excellent Jack Hobbs decides to leave his defensive duties for once and dribble upfield, exchanging passes with Gedo and winning a corner. Brady takes it, as he takes all our dead-ball situations in the absence of Koren. Not for the only time tonight, he fails to find a teammate. So it’s a very scrappy first 45. David Meyler is energetic as ever, popping up all across the midfield looking to close down the opposition. The more languid George Boyd drops deep regularly, wanting to get on the ball and try to make something happen. But there’s no real shape to the team. Bristol, either by design or because they’ve nothing left to play for except damage limitation this season, are sitting deep and putting plenty of bodies in between our midfield and the goal. Many a City pass is either blocked or overhit. We can’t find a way through. Half-time, and the assumption is that Steve Bruce will do some re-organising and re-focusing in the dressing room. Surely we’ll come out better. There’s still plenty of time to score. My thoughts turn again, as they have done several times today, to a match against the other Bristol side, Rovers, on a warm spring day some 29 years ago at Boothferry Park at the end of the 1983-84 season. Some of you might, as I do, recall it and recognise some similarities with today’s game. A classic season for a resurgent City under Colin Appleton, we were on the verge of promotion. With three games to go it looked very likely that we’d go up into Division Two. Then we lost an away game 1-0 (to Port Vale). But that was just about OK, because we would win at home against Bristol Rovers. We didn’t though. We drew with Bristol 0-0. (I can still see in my mind’s eye – as I did in reality from low down in Bunkers that day – Billy Whitehurst screwing a great chance just wide). So it went to the last game of the season, Burnley away, and in the end our inferior goal difference deprived us of promotion. Similarly – but with a more positive outcome – nine years ago this week, against Huddersfield, there was another nervy 0-0 at the KC on the verge of promotion. That was to get us out of the fourth tier of English football and we were watched by 23,495. (The attendance tonight was 4900 fewer, very disappointing by comparison, as we stand on the edge of automatic promotion out of one of Europe’s toughest divisions and into the Premier League). Following that 0-0 against Huddersfield in 2004, we went away, to Yeovil, and produced an Ashbee-inspired classic win to secure promotion. I pushed thoughts of those games out of my mind and waited for an improved City to break through in the second half. Whatever our manager said at half-time though, little changes. Quinn tries to poke a ball through the Robins’ defence for Boyd to run on to, but it’s too long. We keep playing high balls that don’t suit our team. On 53 we win a free-kick that’s almost a corner, just at the junction of the Best Stand and the South Stand. Brady overhits it, but it goes for a genuine corner the other side. Brady has to go across to take this one too, which he does, this time short to Boyd, who loses possession. Not much has changed. Except Bristol now seem emboldened enough to venture forward occasionally. On 50 minutes Stockdale fubles a weak and low cross, but Hobbs tidies up. Shortly after that, the otherwise excellent Hobbs is beaten for pace in our box, but the Bristol forward fails to find a colleague with his cross. It’s getting nervy. On 58 George Boyd seems unaware of what’s going on as a Robins player takes the ball off him just inside our half. Then – disgracefully it seems to me – he stands and watches, rather than pursuing, as Bristol advance on our goal. A stronger team might have managed more than the soft shot at Stockdale that results. (I wonder, if we go up, should we take up the option of turning Boyd’s loan into a permanent deal? Not on recent form.) Another long ball over the top for City is too long for Fryatt to run onto before it runs into touch. On 65 a double substition, Gedo and Fryatt off, Simpson and Proschwitz on. With a goal apiece for Simpson and Proschwitz in 2013, you’ll forgive me if I didn’t see this as heralding our much sought after breakthrough. And it didn’t. Simpson, as he usually does, had some decent touches, but never really threatened. Proschwitz the same, but without the decent touches. So we move into the last quarter. Robbie Brady has got on the ball a lot tonight. Recently more than ever – he did this a lot at Molineux on Tuesday – he has started to dribble across the pitch from left to right, rather than attack down his wing. He did this again on 73, ending up getting fouled in the centre circle, winning a free kick which Faye lumped forward. Shortly after, we get a free kick about 30 yards out. Brady, of course, to take. Everyone goes forward and lines up ready for an outswinger into the box. Brady instead plays it straight to one of theirs, who breaks forward with our defence chasing back. Happily Bristol make little of this opportunity. Nor of the other half chances they get in the second 45. They have a couple of long-range shots, which go wide either side of Stockdale’s goal. On 80 minutes we have a penalty shout, as Quinn appears to be pushed from behind and to go down relatively easily. I can’t tell from my East Stand seat, but there’s not too much fuss from City’s players when the ref turns down the appeal. Perhaps TV watchers will tell us that it should have been given, but Steve Bruce, who had a good view of the incident, said afterwards that the ref had got it right. As the time left moves into single figures, we’re realising that we’re probably not going to score. The admirable Abdoulaye Faye tries to inspire his teammates with a crunching tackle and a thumping defensive header. Then Liam Rosenior comes on for James Chester, and all of a sudden the combination of Rosenior and Elmohamady down the right looks impressive, winning a corner that Brady takes to no avail. There are 4 added minutes, in the second of which David Meyler’s foraging forward run finds him in the Bristol penalty area, about 10 yards out. He tries a snap-shot, hard but close to the keeper, who saves competently. And that’s that. 0-0. If this was a season report, not a match report, I’d be positive overall. I think we’ll go up. But it really isn’t done until it’s done. In some ways, tonight’s shoddy display emphasised that fact. On the other hand, let’s not forget that though we didn’t win the game, we won one more precious point. Perhaps it will prove a decisive point. I’ll leave the scenarios to the chat list. Ed