The Tigers second trip over the Humber Bridge this week proved to be far less enjoyable than the first. It was the first time I’ve been to Blundell Park to see City. The last time I went I saw Grimsby play Sunderland and lose 0-4. A young Michael Bridges scored a hat-trick for a Sunderland side who were marching towards promotion. We arrived just in time for kick-off, i.e. literally with seconds to spare, and found the away end was playing host to a high-school production of Green Street. Credit to the costume lady, she’d done a great job sourcing all that knock-off Burberry on her budget.
I thought the police did a good job with the situation. They were present but restrained. If this lot had been at the G20 demonstrations, they’d be missing some teeth by now. Anyway, the football. With Amos, Hobbs, Rosenior, Dawson, McKenna, Olofinjana, Fryatt and new signing Abdoulaye Faye unavailable, the Tigers fielded about the best senior side they could manage:
Jakupovic; McShane, Dudgeon, Chester, Cooper; Stewart, Devitt, Cairney, Koren ©; McLean, Simpson
With substitutions taking place throughout the second half (all subs used except Oxley) City finished the game :
Jakupovic; East, Townsend, Chester, Cooper; Bradley (for 30 seconds), McLean, Cairney, Koren; Cullen, Proschwitz
The first half was a bit of a non-event. There was some tidy football on display from both sides but chances were few and far between. City lacked any real penetration and failed to deliver from wide areas despite numerous chances. If it was up to the duo in the centre of midfield to dictate the tempo then it was hardly surprising that the Tigers game was slow and steady given that Cairney and Koren are both paid up members of the “pipe and slippers” club. No-one in black and amber appeared too keen to pick up an injury so the defensive tactic was press Grimsby until they cough up possession and start again which was reasonably effective.
The Mariners only chance of the half fell to Andy Cook who met Joe Colbeck’s cross but saw his header comfortably saved by Jakupovic. Colbeck was impressive for Grimsby and gave Joe Dudgeon something to think about the few times he was in possession. Despite having the larger share of possession and working the ball into good areas, City failed to create much more than a few half chances. Jay Simpson hit the side netting early on after latching onto Koren’s neat pass. Jamie Devitt hit a nice half-volley low and hard but saw it saved excellently by ‘keeper Fleming. Liam Cooper met a Koren corner with a super near post run but headed over. In the only moment of genuine quality in the half, Koren hit a terrific swerving, dipping shot from 25 yards that smashed the bar and flew over.
Jay Simpson showed good movement and pace again, Koren worked hard and was involved in the few moments of quality and the centre halves were untroubled. The rest of the outfield players were well below par. McLean was anonymous, Stewart is still struggling and hardly anything he tried came off. Devitt is what he is, Cairney looks good but doesn’t affect games enough and neither full-back ever looked likely to put a decent ball into the box.
Things improved a little after the break with the spate of substitutions at least bringing a little urgency into the Tigers play. We dominated for the most part but Grimsby had a good spell mid-way through the half and were unlucky not to score when Southwell met a good out-swinging corner and saw his header cleared off the line. The corner came about from Jakupovic coming for a ball he couldn’t get for the second time in the game. Half-time sub Conor Townsend impressed again. His movement is good, he looks for space and he loves to try and get a cross in. They weren’t really up to much but at least he’s trying. Jay Simpson forced a good save from Fleming after collecting Cairney’s pass, turning sharply and shooting low and hard. Fleming is on trial at Grimsby and played against The Tigers in pre-season last year for Chesterfield. He had a really good game.
Cameron Stewart’s best moment of the half came next, he picked up the ball in his own half and ran 40 yards with it, out pacing two midfielders and leaving just Southwell between him and a run on goal. Southwell came across and blatantly took him out earning a bollocking from the referee and a few words from a rightly upset Stewart who could do without another injury. Simpson then went clean through against Fleming, drew the keeper and neatly dinked the ball over him. Unfortunately the dink had no power behind it whatsoever and three defenders beat the ball to the 6 yard line!
With about 15 minutes left Steve Bruce threw on Nick Proschwitz for his Tigers debut. The big German received a great welcome from the 600 or so City fans behind the goal he was attacking. He also heard his first chant in English football which was made up by a tuneless moron and sung by about 1% of the crowd, and half of them looked pretty embarrassed. The words to this future pop classic are:
“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGHHHHH!! NICK PROSCHWITZ.
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGHHHHH!! NICK PROSCHWITZ.”
I think perhaps the teeny-boppers should stick to amateur dramatics and leave the song writing to someone else? Oddly, that wasn’t even their worst song of the night. The other one was so horrific that my brain has refused to absorb it. Thank you brain.
It’s unfair to judge anyone on just 15 minutes but I think it’s safe to say that had Proschwitz been a donkey, 15 minutes would have been long enough to prove it. Fortunately, he looks a pretty good footballer. He didn’t have many touches but all were very good, he showed neat control, good movement and wasn’t afraid to have a shot. There were no further chances for City but may have been a penalty when Cameron Stewart was brought down on the edge of the box. It looked in to me and Stewart also thought it was but the ref, from a pretty poor position, said it was outside. Fortunately, it doesn’t really matter.
The game ended all square. It wasn’t particularly riveting but should be a decent boost to the home side who put up a good fight and look to have assembled a decent squad. It will also benefit them financially as all of the proceeds will go to their youth setup. It’s just a pity there weren’t more than 1500 of them to boost the coffers.
The game doesn’t tell us a whole lot about Hull City that we didn’t already know. Jay Simpson continued his decent pre-season. He definitely looks higher up the pecking order than Aaron McLean at the moment. We still can’t put a decent cross into the box and our set pieces are rubbish. It’s not a surprise that wide players are high on Steve Bruce’s agenda. If Robert Koren is looking to leave, this was a thoroughly professional performance.
I’m off to change my name to Danny Dyer by deed poll. A’wight.