Sunday, 31 January 2016

Bury 1 Hull City 3: A cup tie that had everything - except a giantkilling!

Hull City made it seven wins from their last ten FA Cup matches with a, sort of, comfortable 3-1 win at League One Bury in an old school cup tie.

Pre-match the atmosphere at Gigg Lane was pretty sedate. The majority of the two thousand, seven hundred and odd City fans gathered in Bury’s South Stand. It’s normally a home end that runs along the side of the pitch opposite the dugouts. The noisy Tigers gathered at the end in which Bury’s young wannabe casuals stood underneath the scoreboard in the corner and some loud chanting from either side warmed up the animosity before the bains in their corner lit a smokebomb and somebody threw it into the City fans. That caused some of the “naughty” boys in our end to charge a gate and the police got involved to keep the fans apart while both sides stood giving it “Do you want some?” from a safe distance. Another blue smoke bomb lobbed from the schoolkids caused a bit more aggro before the game started in a now surprisingly ferocious atmosphere.

City 4-4-2
Eldin Jakupovic
Ryan Taylor – Michael Dawson – Alex Bruce – Josh Tymon
Ahmed Elmohamady – Tom Huddlestone – David Meyler – Sone Aluko
Chuba Akpom – Adama Diomande

Just look at that team. That’s a second division (old money) team having made eleven changes – with no Shaun Maloney involved at all. It’s ridiculous really. The returns of Captain Dawson, Bruce and Diomande to full fitness were newsworthy but not quite as interesting as the inclusion of sixteen-year-old Josh Tymon.

I’ve seen Josh a few times this season in the U21 and he’s never looked out of place up against lads four or five years his senior and he didn’t here. Bury obviously targeted him early on with the ball finding Danny Rose on the right wing often in the opening ten but he got no change from young man. Eventually they switched to targeting Taylor on the right and found more encouragement – leading to Elmo becoming the full back mid-way through the half.

Bury were the more adventurous side in the first half. They rarely looked like they had the quality to break through the solid City backline but they put in all the leg work in the middle of the pitch. They flew into tackles, upsetting some of the City players when the ref didn’t clamp down in it, and displayed smart movement between The Tigers’ centre halves and full backs that kept everyone honest. They made the first chance of the game and given what followed, it had to go in. Danny Mayor jinked through our midfield and drew the defence who all shuffled across to cover leaving Rose alone on the right. His shot was well saved by Jak’s right boot.

That proved costly as City took an early lead. Diomande looks very good with the ball at his feet but it’s a lottery as to whether it’ll get there in the first place. He spotted a tremendous pass through the middle that Meyler galloped on to. The keeper came out to smother Meyler’s shot and Akpom was alert to slide the ball into the empty net [0-1]. It was exactly like Leicester’s winner at the KC last season. Meyler should have scored and was denied again in short order when his goalbound header from Taylor’s corner was kicked off the line.

Having shown his ability to defend, Tymon was giving the City fans a glimpse of his ability to get forward on the left but couldn’t get crosses in on the tricky surface. Conditions became tricker as constant drizzle became driving sleet and then snow. I’m glad I checked the BBC weather app on Friday night now. I might as well have asked Mystic Meg. The lively but clumsy Aluko hit efforts from distance just wide and then not far over while a brilliant challenge by Dawson discouraged Rose who thought he was in on goal.

Half time: Bury 0 Hull City 1

The players came out after half time in nice dry kits all round. Except Bury’s Rose who still had his muddy shirt on. That’s got to be either superstition or he’s wasted his share in previous games. Be interesting to know if he’s wearing an off-white, still slightly stained kit in the next game?

Sone Aluko got the “You’re a greedy/lazy c***” normally reserved for Mo Diame from some of the morons around us. He responded with a terrific second half display. As noted by the experts in our car on the way home – he was much more direct and it caused havoc.

The game was settled by a crazy minute on the hour. Bury put the ball in the net when Pope’s shot was turned in by Lowe (I think) in the six-yard box. That sparked joyous scenes in the crèche in the corner and even a one-man pitch invasion from the only idiot who hadn’t seen the offside flag! Within seconds, Aluko brilliantly fought for the ball on the goal line and as he slipped inside the defender, he was tripped. Akpom coolly sent the keeper the wrong way and joyously celebrated in the “naughty” corner with the City fans gathered by the pitch-side [0-2]. Bury were furious but I’m not sure why. Neither decision looked contentious but it required the ref to have a word with David Flitcroft for his harassing of the fourth official. That happened while Elmo was waiting to take a throw-in leading to City fans’ serenading Elmo for a couple of minutes as he tried not to do his dance (probably).

The noise in our end was fantastic at this point and we controlled the game which was now well won. Aluko was running them ragged and he made a hat-trick clinching goal for Akpom with a lovely pass. There was still plenty of work to be done though and Chuba cut inside two defenders and finished beautifully into the far corner [0-3]. It was a great response from the loanee who has been mystifyingly absent of late. He’d shown great appetite for the game throughout with his work off the ball and gave Steve Bruce a reminder of his undoubted talent. He may even have had a fourth later when he was chopped down in the box by Nathan Cameron – a massive unit at the heart of their defence. The ref said Cameron had got the ball, which he had but not before he’d gone through Akpom.

The only disappointment of an otherwise brilliant away trip (apart from no beers on sale at the ground!) was the conceding of a sloppy consolation, tapped in at the far post by Danny Jones after two crosses flew across our box [1-3]. Lord knows what our system was by that point. Clucas had come on for Diomande, Hayden for the tiring Tymon and Maguire for Aluko. We had a winger at left back, a centre half in midfield and Ryan Taylor still on the pitch. He’s awful.

That didn’t dampen the atmosphere – although the weather did – and City fans crowded by the exits looking for a quick getaway in the sleet. Safely in Round 5, we applauded the players off and headed back through the slush awaiting the big draw. It’s only the fourteenth time in 112 years that we’ve reached this stage – making twice in three years. We’ve only been further six times. Here’s to making that seven.

Full time: Bury 1 Hull City 3

It’s back to league action now with two tough trips back to Lancashire to face Burnley and Blackburn. Steve Bruce has tough decisions ahead of him. That’s the problem with making so many changes for the purposes of resting players. Michael Dawson was always going to cause him a selection headache but Alex Bruce had a fine game, Elmo was lively, Aluko tremendous, Tymon very accomplished and Akpom smashed in a hat-trick. We now have at least six players who don’t deserve to drop out next week to add to the other eleven who have done nothing wrong either. It’s a headache I’m glad I don’t have.

That’s for next week. Thanks for the proper cup tie, Bury. Good luck for the season.

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