Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Leeds United 2 Hull City 3



I thought the “25 years of hurt” stuff was a bit over-played locally today. It may well be 25 years since we’ve won at Elland Road but we’ve only actually been 5 or 6 times. Still, Hull City victories at Elland Road are as rare as rocking horse droppings. We’ve only won there twice in our history and one of those was in 1921 (against Leeds United anyway, we’ve won twice in FA Cup replays played at Elland road as a neutral venue and games against Leeds City). You can make that three times now. The modern-day tigers strolled into Elland Road tonight, bared our teeth and took Leeds apart. And they did it with the odds stacked in favour of our hosts, the uncrowned Champions of Europe. It’s just a pity there were less than 20,000 fans there to see it.

The Tigers were forced into one change from the victories over Bolton and Millwall as Seyi Olofinjana picked up the millionth injury of his Hull City career. It’s to his credit that most fans felt we’d miss him. Corry Evans stepped up in his place and Jamie Devitt filled the bench.

Tigers: Amos; Chester, Faye, Bruuuuuuuce; Elmohamady, Dudgeon, Evans, Quinn, Koren; Aluko, Simpson.



I paid an eye-watering 34 quid to get in the ground, “enjoyed” a grey-brown “cheese” pie and downed a beer with less alcohol content than Mother Teresa’s breathalyser reading before taking my seat approximately 4,000 yards from the pitch. Only in football, eh? Fortunately the couple of thousand Hull City fans were in fantastic voice and the away end was jumping. The home areas, consisting mainly of seats, were not so. Within 8 minutes, the Tigers fans were temporarily muted by a mind-numbingly poor refereeing decision. El Hadji-Diouf beat Joe Dudgeon on the bye-line and Dudge clipped his heels outside the box. Diouf chucked himself into the box and the linesman flagged for a foul. The referee, Roger East, pointed to the spot. The City players and fans were aghast and the players badgered the referee into consulting the linesman. I presume the conversation went something like:

“Was it in the box, lino?”
“No Ref, it was a couple of yards outside”
“Well I’m going to look like a tit if I change my mind and Warnock will never let me hear the end of it so I’m going to give it anyway”

Luchiano Becchio stuck the penalty in the bottom corner [1-0], as if there was ever any doubt, despite Ben Amos going the right way and the home fans made a bit of noise for the only time of the evening. City were shaken by the start and had to hang on for 5 minutes. Corry Evans gifted them the ball in midfield for the second time and Becchio headed Diouf’s deep cross into the back of James Chester before a fabulous block from Faye denied Rudolph Austin. The ball was quickly returned down the right wing and Austin cut inside and hit a low shot that Amos saved well. Stephen Quinn and Sone Aluko started to see a little bit of the ball and it helped City settle. The tide turned as Leeds and the awful referee fired the Tigers up big time. Sam Byram flew at Abdoulaye Faye with a high reckless challenge that could have caused serious damage. To the fury of the City players, there wasn’t even a free-kick awarded (echoes of Cairney at Donny). There probably wasn’t enough contact to warrant a red card but it was a certain yellow. Instead, Mr. East booked Alex Bruce for his protests.

The Tigers realised that they weren’t going to be handed anything at Elland Road. Despite the empty seats and the whiff of faded glory in the air, it’s apparently still an intimidating place for officials. Having a tracksuited troll screaming from the home dugout doesn’t help them. From a rare free-kick in our favour, City worked the ball right. Elmohamady collected on the edge of the box, steadied himself and lashed a shot into the far corner beyond the despairing dive of Paddy Kenny [1-1]. We went mental. It may just have been an equaliser in a Championship fixture but after 20 mins of injustice, it felt great. And it got better. City were in the ascendancy and forced a corner. Koren’s delivery was cleared at the near post. Jay Simpson retrieved the ball, held it up and then found Quinn who fed Elmo. He crossed early with whip and pace and Abdoulaye Faye nodded beyond Kenny. Dream-land [1-2]. Never mind winning at Elland Road, we’ve got a defender who scores goals! Three in three for the big man. And three consecutive games in which we’ve scored a header. I love headers. Headers are great. Someone set off a red flare in the City end. Goals from Egyptians and Senegalese, flares, singing, scoring goals. It’s a bit continental but I like it!

The Tigers were well in control now. Leeds were rocking. They defended like park players, booting the ball up in the air, looking to their coach for a bit advice, hoping their Mam might haul them off home to save them having to chase Sone Aluko again. The ref is still rubbish; he’s giving us nothing but he doesn’t have too, we’re taking it. The Tigers break brilliantly from our area. Dudgeon finds Quinn who plays a lovely ball into Aluko. He sets off like a rocket and races past two defenders. He’s heading into the penalty area when Jason Pearce chops him down in the “D”. It’s a clear denial of a goal scoring opportunity. It’s a red card. Yeah right, dream on. It’s yellow of course. Koren curls the free kick low towards the bottom left corner but Kenny saves well. Aluko picks up the ball again, 40 yards out, goes past Austin as if he isn’t there but drags his shot wide. Michael Tonge, a typical Warnock soldier, is booked for a cynical foul and City lead at half-time. The City fans booed off the ref. Remarkable given that we were winning.

It was an excellent half from the Tigers. I thought it was better than Millwall. It wasn’t as free-flowing or as dominant but we showed such character to haul back a game that was being taken from us and to dominate it. The back three, as usual, stood up to everything that was thrown at them and Leeds front line dropped deeper and deeper to try and affect the game. Only Corry Evans disappointed. He had his poorest half for a long while, possibly a result of him being determined to do well coming into a winning team.

The first fifteen resembled a home game for The Tigers as they dictated the game, had most of the ball and Leeds sat back and looked to counter. Their only scraps came from careless City passes. Stepehen Quinn gifted the ball to Diouf who slid a great ball in behind for Becchio. At least it would have been a great ball if Joe Dudgeon hadn’t read it, raced across and cut it out. That came in between two chances for the Tigers to kill the game. A move up and across the pitch saw Aluko feed the over-lapping Elmohamady, Elmo dummied as if to cross, pushed the ball past White to the bye-line and dinked a cross to the far post that Simpson headed just wide. Then Robert Koren won a challenge in midfield and the ball flew over the top of the defenders into the path of Aluko. He ran in on goal on the right but Aidy White did well to get himself between Aluko and the goal and our man shot wide. Aluko was having one of those games and almost forced a repeat of the Dudgeon/Diouf penalty incident when he beat two defenders with a sublime piece of skill but Austin put the ball out for a corner.

The game started to turn Leeds’ way with the introduction of substitute Dominic Poleon. He was a stout little player with electric pace. He gave them something they didn’t have and lifted everyone in the ground. His excellent run and cross on the right was halted by an equally excellent block by Dudge. Then he raced from half way on the left wing, left Chester (no slouch) for dead and fired a shot that Amos held well. From a short corner, Rudolph Austin found a little bit of space and hit a ridiculously powerful shot that flew just over. You had that feeling that an equaliser was coming. Elmohamady controlled the ball with his nose and fell to the floor. Leeds ignored him and continued to attack. The referee blew up with Leeds on the right wing so that Elmo could receive attention. Warnock was absolutely livid. It was brilliant. To be fair to Mr. East, he was only being consistent. He’d blown up earlier in the half with City on a break when one of theirs was hit in the knackers with the ball. Not that Warnock will remember that one. With Leeds in the ascendancy for the first time since the 15 minute mark and City fans getting a twitchy, a third City goal would have been most welcome. The Tigers broke out of defence. Simpson plays a great ball across field to Evans who carries it quickly down the right, lets Elmo overlap and then slides him in. Elmo’s cross takes a slight deflection and falls perfectly for Koren, arriving at the back post, who controls and knocks it nonchalantly beyond Kenny [1-3]. Pande-bloody-monium.

The chant went out “Warnock, what’s the score? Warnock, Warnock, what’s the score?”. He didn’t seem to know. The Tigers should have strolled home after that and Steve Bruce sent on Rosenior (for Koren) and McLean (for Simpson) to shore things up. This being Hull City though, things are never that simple. The referee indicated a minimum of five minutes stoppage time. Then played about fifty. Leeds sent on Andy Gray. I laughed at them signing a player who Barnsley let go. He scored. Typical. A left wing free kick was conceded by Faye and when they swung it in, Gray was left free at the near post and finished with a simple header [2-3]. City regained their composure quickly and saw out the remaining forty-eight minutes of stoppage time. Ben Amos was booked for time wasting. Of course he was time wasting, stoppage time is infinite at Elland Road!



So there it was. Our first victory at Leeds for donkey’s years. And a thoroughly deserved one it was too. Selecting a man of the match is near impossible again. The back three were magnificent, including Alex Bruce who I had pegged down for the usual nightmare City players experience against their former clubs. The two wing-backs were unerring again. Dudgeon with superb contributions at the back, Elmo the difference maker at the front. Aluko was unplayable. Koren strolled around like he owned the joint. Evans recovered from a shoddy first half to provide a steely resilience after the break. Quinn is irrepressible. He’s everywhere. My MOTM is Jay Simpson though. He didn’t let up for a second in the game. He chased everything, he battled for every ball in the air, he put pressure on them time and time again. And when he had the ball at hi feet, he was excellent. We’ve seen before that he has good vision but his speed of though and speed of feet are new to us. If Sone Aluko wasn’t in the team, we’d be drooling over Jay’s dribbling ability tonight. He’s in excellent shape, he’s fit and sharp and yet he retains a really strong frame. I continue to be seriously impressed with him.

I said after the Millwall game that we look in good shape as a squad and going and winning at a hardened Championship rival only reinforces that. I’ve seen a few quotes in the press from other managers about us having spent a few quid. Warnock mentioned is in his presser and Malky MacKay said it on the radio on Monday morning. However 90% of our summer spending went on a guy who hasn’t played a minute in the last three games. That’s not to write off Nick Proschwitz, he could still be a key player once he’s settled in. What it means is that Steve Bruce has thus far transformed us from a lovely non-threatening football team into a lovely dangerous football team and has done so with players who only cost £400,000 between them. There’s a long way to go yet but it’s suffice to say that Bruce has made an excellent start.

Fortunately for them, Leeds don’t care about little old Hull City. Which should help them this morning as they face up to a humiliating home defeat to those poor relations down the road. And this bunch of clowns still think they are rivals of Chelsea and Manchester United? Ho Ho Ho.

The Starting Stats!

13 points from 6 games is The Tigers best start to a season since 1993/94 (5 wins, 1 draw).

13 points from 6 games only bettered 8 times in our history (points adjusted) and only 3 times post-war. 

Best ever start was 1948/49 in Div 3 North. 6 games, 6 wins. (Tranmere 2-1, Oldham 6-0, Mansfield 4-0, Barrow 2-1, Accrington 3-1, Wrexham 3-0)

Worst ever start was 2006/07 in Championship. 6 games, 1 point. (WBA 0-2, Barnsley 2-3, Derby 1-2, Ipswich 0-0, Coventry 0-1, Birmingham 1-2) 

2012/13 is The Tigers best ever start in the second tier post-war.

The Tigers have hit 11 goals in 6 games. It took 12 games in 2011/12, 16 games in 2010/11 and 13 games in 2009/10 to hit our 11th goal.

11 comments:

  1. Brilliant report again Rick, almost as good as the result itself.

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  2. Cheers for the match report, best one available!

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  3. Great report, good for us exiles to keep in touch with what really happened rather than the usual BBC/HDM reports!

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  4. At last Tiger Rick, along with an eye popping Hull City football team we have some decent football reporting, coupled with good descriptive writing that captures the mood, the match and the atmosphere at Leed's Deadend Road. Thank you

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  5. Great match report, always the first place I come to get a true reflection of the match. Thanks for the Twitter updates as well.

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  6. Another great report Rick. Almost as good as Skeltons bread. Any relation? Got to echo others, best report around. Look forward to it after a game. Thanks.

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  7. Thanks Rick. Another brilliant report....as usual!

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  8. best written report by miles although it always makes better reading when city win

    many thanks

    vincento

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  9. Great read - almost as good as the result. Come on City - maintain this brilliant start.

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  10. I echo all the other comments - these reports should be in the mainstream - reading them is as near to being there as is possible to be without actually being there.

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  11. Thanks for the comments. It's not that good really but nice of you to say so.

    Can't believe I'm still getting Skelton's bakery gags in 2012! Primary school flashback!

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