Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Hull City 2 Cardiff City 0: The Tigers stroll into Championship top two



Hull City moved back into the Championship’s automatic promotion places with a comfortable 2-0 win over Cardiff City at the KC Stadium.

 

The Tigers won at a canter and could, probably should, have added a couple of goals to their tally despite never really getting out of second gear. Cardiff were woeful opponents who caused one scare at nil all but otherwise offered nothing. They have some good players for this level on their books but they are a poor unit most typified in midfield where Livermore and Meyler bossed the inept Gunnarson and Ralls throughout.

City 4-4-2
Allan McGregor
Moses Odubajo – Curtis Davies – Harry Maguire – Andy Robertson
Ahmed Elmohamady – Jake Livermore – David Meyler – Sam Clucas
Abel Hernandez – Mo Diame

The first half won’t take long to write about because it was a tedious affair. City made most of the running and created the better situations but were nowhere near good enough in the final third. Diame was ineffective in his role up front struggling to get hold of the ball and to keep it. He was involved in several of the better chances but blew two of them with stupid decisions – shooting when he should have passed – but he should have assisted an opening goal when he broke and drew two defenders, sliding the ball into Hernandez who dallied and was closed down when a first time shot offered an open net.

Cardiff created their one chance through a long ball in behind Odubajo, who was dozing, only for Pilkington to chip the ball over McGregor but also the crossbar. The few Cardiff fans in the stadium thought it was in and let out a cheer. The Tigers otherwise dictated the play and probed for an opening. The game was without tempo though, similar to Saturday’s cup game with Brighton. It had the same “pre-season friendly” sort of feel.

Five minutes before half time the deadlock was broken. Sam Clucas swung a corner to the far post at the North Stand end. Harry Maguire was held as he tried to meet it and the ref pointed to the spot. There didn’t seem to be a large protest from the culprit - ex-Tiger Lee Peltier. Abel Hernandez confidently blasted the penalty into the inside of the side netting evading the dive of David Marshall [1-0].

Half Time: Hull City 1 Cardiff City 0

The second half was better in terms of goal scoring chances. Maguire had already poked in a volley at the far post from a Clucas free kick, saved by Marshall, when Clucas gave City an unassailable looking lead. Odubajo, who’d had a pretty poor first half, clipped a lovely ball down the line for Diame who cleverly flicked it inside for Hernandez. He tried to head it down for himself but it found Clucas, arriving from the left. His shot was blocked, looping into the air and when it came down he volleyed smartly into the bottom left hand corner [2-0].

Cardiff made a slight attempt to rally as Odubajo was forced into a good clearance, Pilkington shot wide and Ralls had a near post strike saved by McGregor. It was short lived and without belief. City were strolling and the substitutions showed they thought the game was done. Huddlestone replaced Hernandez and later Hayden came on for Livermore. Both players being rested for Saturday. In spite of the lack of ambition, City made chances and should have killed the game. Diame brilliantly fed a ball back to Hernandez to send him through on goal but after a fantastic first touched killed the ball – he skied his shot. Huddlestone found Clucas with a long ball in behind Peltier but he didn’t have the confidence to drive into the box when he was clear. Huddlestone had a free kick from thirty yards pushed away Clucas twice arrived late on the end of great breaks to force saves from Marshall but he should have scored at least once if not both. Meyler also forced a save from Scotland international Marshall who also (just about) kept out an effort from his own defender, the abysmal Manga.

Full Time: Hull City 2 Cardiff City 0

I don’t think that’s a game I’ll ever recall in the future but for now, I don’t really care. All that mattered was taking the three points and on a cold night with a driving rain and a small, quiet crowd, we did so easily.

Maguire was the MOTM in the stadium. I thought it was the brilliant Livermore again but Harry was very good as was Curtis Davies who dealt with everything with no fuss. Diame had plenty of poor moments but was involved in just about everything we did well. Do you carry him for those moments of magic? I think you probably do. Odubajo recovered from a poor first half to play well after the break and Robertson and Clucas worked tirelessly on the left but didn’t always produce the quality they are capable of. Hayden produced the same quality as Saturday in his little cameo and Huddlestone enjoyed the freedom of the park against dispirited opponents.

I’ve still no idea what’s up with Elmo. He was barely involved. He got an absolute rocket from McGregor in the second half for not tracking Pilkington and did see to work a little bit harder. He’s just miles off his old self though.

Saturday is another big chance to take three points at home. Probably the most fancied we’ll be all season. Here’s hoping City cope with the pressure against opponents, Charlton, who are at the lowest of ebbs. I’ll take any score you like as long as we win.

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