Saturday, 5th November 2011
For some reason I elected to drive to this one rather than chance my arm on the trains. Thankfully, following a slight detour to pick up Romford, the relevant motorways were as clear as a bell resulting in our arriving nearly an hour earlier than anticipated.
I have to say that at this point that, for those of you who haven’t had the pleasure, Hull is not exactly the most inspiring place in the world. Queues were forming outside tattoo parlours on the way in and our early arrival meant having to visit a very depressing Wetherspoons for what seemed like hours but was in fact only 20 minutes or so.
The mood wasn’t lightened any by the news that the local constabulary were keeping an eye on one of those ever-charming far-right groups who were planning to join a Navy march through the city. The text received from my beloved reminding me that I had to spend four hours in Kingston Upon Hull without having a drink really cheered me up!
Thankfully opening time proper saw us decamp to The Punch where a mixed grill of gargantuan proportions – 36 hours later I’m still not hungry – restored my usual equilibrium, and, since Romford was on the Ciders the local economy didn’t suffer much over my enforced abstinence.
Team news recorded some changes to the side that had laboured in midweek. O’Brien was omitted with Faubert dropping back to right back. Diop returned to the midfield, as did Collison whilst Carew had sufficiently recovered from his knee problems to resume his partnership with Baldock leaving us with a starting line up of Green, Faubert, McCartney, Tomkins, Faye, Nolan, Noble, Dioup, Collison, Carew, Baldock.
We were on the back foot for much of the first half – as you’d expect from a top six side at home they came at us and we weren’t really picking up much of the loose ball. Our main contribution to the early proceedings was the yellow card picked up buy Nolan on seven minutes.
Having had an opponent come through the back of his legs without punishment, the skipper bided his time for, ooh, nearly two minutes before seeking revenge, following through on Evans after the ball had long gone. The resulting yellow card was as deserved as it was unnecessary. It was more than a little daft too given that it left Nolan with over 80 minutes in which to avoid further incurring the wrath of the officials. As Carew can testify that’s easier said than done.
For all the home side’s possession, our defence seemed to be relishing the job inhand (not a phrase I’ve used too often on here). Tomkins was getting in blocks-a-plenty and Faye was pretty immense at dealing with the aerial stuff. The main problems, such as they were, seemed to stem from a worrying lack of willingness to close down players running at us from deep midfield. This resulted in a number of shots from distance causing problems.
Green parried a Koren effort from about 20 yards – some queried the ‘keeper’s failure to catch the ball but from my viewpoint it was moving all over the place in the air as if someone had been polishing one side of the ball and deliberately scuffing up the other. Definitely one to get behind first and deal with the rebound after.
Green was keeping himself busy, turning a Fryatt shot found the post. Whether the ‘keeper had Adebola’s 20th minute effort covered we’ll never know, as Tomkins’ block diverted the ball past the post with the deflection stranding Green.
Our chances were limited to attacks on the break a couple of which looked promising. Noble & Nolan combined, the skipper nodding down to Carew who delayed his shot allowing a defender to slip in and clear. Equally disappointing was a break that saw Nolan in decent position to bear down on goal, his first touch taking him towards trouble rather than goal.
Just before the interval Koren’s through ball found Fryatt through one on one with Green. Green made a fine block with his legs and Faye was on hand to clear the loose ball from just in front of the goalline.
The half time interval was spent wondering exactly why, on a day when even I thought it was mild, Pink Palermo was dressed as if his next stop were to be the South Pole. Some sort of bet perhaps. Also notable was the fact that Carlton Cole spent the interval on the pitch in playing kit going through a full stretching and warm-up routine indicating that he was likely to be on for the restart, and so it proved, with Carew coming off.
The opening spell of the second half showed much more ambition and enterprise from the visitors. Tomkins headed over and the ever-industrious Baldock fashioned a chance with a clever turn, electing to try to pull the ball back rather than shoot and the ball was cleared for a corner. The respite for Hull was short-lived, however. Noble’s corner seemed to have a flatter trajectory than usual, Cole nodded down to the far post where Baldock was lurking with intent to volley home for a fine poacher’s finish.
Even better was to come eight minutes later. Diop mopped up a loose ball and fed Noble, who seemed to have started the half with more attacking thoughts on his mind. Noble played a nice little ball to Cole who controlled and cut inside the defender before playing a clever through ball inside another defender to find Collison who was running from deep. Collison composed himself and gave the keeper no chance with a low finish. A fine goal from start to finish.
The goals – and the relatively short interval between them – seemed to take the wind out of the home side’s sails for 20 minutes or so. There were a couple of scares however. A corner was nodded down by Hobbs and deflected past Green. However, Noble had stayed on his post to clear off the line and Green smothered the loose ball. Green then turned a low shot from McLean round the post. Fryatt had the best chance of all when played in on the penalty spot with only Green to beat. Thankfully the forward had a rush of blood to the head and ballooned the ball over.
Around this point there was much fun to be had from taking the mickey out of a young couple and baby who looked suspiciously as if they had been part of the queue outside the tattooists at 10am. Quite how they managed to get their pushchair through the turnstile escapes me. The “father” trio took exception to the chant suggesting that he may not have been the child’s natural father and he was escorted out, presumably in the general direction of the Jeremy Kyle show for a DNA test. Funnier still was the seat occupied by a loose collection of dishevelled unwashed clothes which I presumed was the local contribution towards penny for the guy. Until it got up and moved.
Sears replaced Diop with eight left as Hull pressed forward and it was in the last ten minutes that Green came into his own. A cross from our left found Hobbs unmarked at the back post. His header back across goal was tipped over by Green. Piquionne came on for Baldock, who had run miles. Towards the end of the three minutes stoppage a clearance fell at the feet of McKenna who teed up a drive that, yet again Green tipped over. The resulting corner was woefully overhit and that was that for the day.
This was an efficient performance rather than an inspiring one. There was a lot of hard work involved in those three points however. To the long-suffering away support starved of much fun in recent years the journey home seems all the shorter after a win – certainly the A1 seemed bereft of traffic (apart from the odd club official encountered at a service area!).
I myself was in such a good mood that I actually allowed Romford to play the CDs of 1980’s Jazz/Funk that I’d prepared for my passenger. (I refuse to countenance the use of the word “soul” for something so apparently untouched by human hand). In the end it was a toss up between the CDs and Romford’s snoring as to which made the more pleasant listening – though in between I did catch the big fellah singing along to some Clash so maybe there’s hope for his musical taste yet.
Just to cap a rather nice day, having parked up the Gnomemobile after the 458 mile round trip, the mobile dog & bone was full of text messages from people telling me that youngest bruv had been on the telly what with the Hampshire Disabled Cricket scheme winning the National Lottery Awards and everything. Not a bad end to a decent day!
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Some excellent saves both in the first half and late on preserved a clean sheet and, in the process, rammed those oh so tedious World Cup chants down some throats. MOTM – just.
A more defensive job for him than of late. Stuck to the task well.
Had his work cut out on that side occasionally but just about coped.
Superb. Powerful in the air and got in a number of vital blocks. Just shaded for my MOTM by Green but it was damned close.
Another fine performance marred only slightly by picking up a yellow for kicking the ball away towards the end.
Another good runout – particularly in that first part of the second half when he brought the ball forward a bit more.
Beginning to show signs of his pre-injury form and took the goal well.
Poor first half – the booking was particularly irresponsible. Improved in the second half.
Papa Bouba Diop
Broke up play well and laid it off. What we expect of him really.
Took the goal well but one instance in the second half where he chased back fully 70 yards to hold up a break until McCartney got back to clear summed up his game today.
Not really in the game today – possibly still suffering from the knock that kept him out in midweek, which would account for his withdrawal at half time.
(Replaced Carew, 46) Caused more problems than Carew and made a major contribution to both goals.
(Replaced Diop, 83) Barely touched the ball in the eight minutes plus stoppage.
(replaced Baldock, 87) His introduction for Baldock was made with one eye on the clock I presume.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Referee: Nigel Miller.
Man of the Match: Robert Green.
West Ham United
Robert Green, Julien Faubert, George McCartney, Abdoulaye Faye, James Tomkins, Mark Noble, Jack Collison, Kevin Nolan, Papa Bouba Diop, Sam Baldock, John Carew.
Goals: John Carew 12 Sam Baldock 47 Sam Baldock 51 Jack Collison 55 .
Booked: Matthew Taylor 7 Julien Faubert 17 .
Sent off: None.
Subs not used: .
Sent Off: None.