|Pos. 19th (45 pts)||THURSDAY 2 JULY 2020||Pos. 21st (44 pts)|
SHOTS (on target)
Assombalonga (4 Pen)
Hopeless in Hull
Boro made the relatively short trip south to Humberside for their second away game in 6 days. Hull have struggled with a porous defence, only Luton had conceded more, seemingly unable to keep clean sheets while Boro, as pointed out by Warnock in his press conference, have goal-shy Strikers with Boro consequently the lowest goal scorers in the division. Under Warnock however, those Boro scoring issues seemed to be getting addressed or at least in part with set plays now looking as though they had been rehearsed and two goals scored on their last outing away to fellow strugglers Stoke. Hull meanwhile had thrown away a two-goal lead away to a sorry looking Birmingham side on Saturday. A draw would not be disastrous for either side just yet with six more games to go but a defeat would be crushing in the survival stakes.
Of late the fate of these two clubs have had some striking parallels, both were chasing the Play-Offs this time last year and our brief Premiership visit prior to that saw both clubs scrapping to avoid relegation (both unsuccessfully) and here we are again with both sides scrapping for their Championship lives indicating just how far both Clubs have fallen.
Both clubs had a full complement to select from with only long term injured Dijksteel unavailable for Boro. The Tigers had just completed the permanent signing of loanee Mallik Wilks from Barnsley for one of those curious “undisclosed fees” earlier in the day securing the wide man’s services for the next two years. Team news saw McCann announce an unchanged side from their Birmingham game and Warnock made one surprise change with Coulson coming in for Fletcher.
Referee Geoff Eltringham’s whistle got proceedings underway. The opening minute was a fairly innocuous start with neither side really probing or testing. A Djed Spence throw in 20 yards out was hurriedly cleared in a tight corner and picked up by Paddy McNair who ghosted across the edge of the Hull 18 yard box and played a sweet ball out to Johnson who was thundering in and unleashed a great drive at Long’s goal and as he spilled the shot Roberts closing in had his leg hooked from under him for a 3rd-minute Penalty. Anxious moments across Teesside as Britt stepped up and dummied his run-up and sent it safely into the back of the net to put Boro one up. A great start and as good as we could have hoped for.
Wilks earned a free-kick after going down from a Johnson challenge outside the Boro 18 yard box on 7 minutes. Herbie Kane dispatched the curling kick, sent it over the wall and left Stojanovic with no chance as it curled just inside the upright to pull the sides level. A minute later Roberts was upended and Howson played a short free-kick that didn’t come off going out for a Boro throw-in. On ten minutes Roberts put a cross across the box to Johnson whose cross came back out to Roberts who won a corner. The corner came in and a series of unconvincing attacking and defending ensued which eventually ended with Boro being offside.
Neither side was getting a stranglehold on the game and then a lobbed Hull free-kick straight down the middle saw a De Wijs header nearly catch Stojanovic at his near post. Roberts was testing Elder down the right and won throw off him and then a corner which was wasted by being taken short by Roberts to Spence who then overhit it letting Hull off the hook. Roberts was starting to be the main attacking outlet for Boro and cutting across the edge of the box he lost the attentions of three defenders but hit his shot well over. A minute later Spence drove down the right flank and his cut back to Coulson was offside as it came off McNair. That was Coulson’s first real involvement in the game.
A water break on twenty-three minutes interrupted proceedings with Coaches able to get a few messages to their charges. Three minutes later Hull goal scorer Kane hobbled off for ex-Mackem Honeyman to enter the fray. On thirty minutes a dangerous long throw into the Boro six-yard box was blown for a free-kick to Boro as De Wijs bundled Britt over defending. All Boro’s enterprise was down the right-hand side with the left flank redundant. A fierce 40-yard drive on 32 minutes was cleared by Boro only for Johnson to give away another free-kick that caused consternation as it was headed downwards by Fry then hooked clear by Howson only for a free-kick to be awarded to Boro. A break down the left saw Coulson feed it back from the by-line to Saville who pinged it into fellow Northern Irishman McNair whose header was straight at Long but two Amber shirts clashed heads in the melee with Elder requiring lengthy treatment in the aftermath.
Close up TV footage seem to reveal a disagreement between Elder and the Physio’s advice seemingly deciding that he was suffering from concussion. Stewart then came on for Hull’s second substitution in the first half with the clock showing 40 minutes but with some lengthy delays. Da Silva went to Left Back to face Roberts and Spence who had teased Elder non-stop previously. On 44 minutes Da Silva left a cynical foot in on Roberts leaving him writhing in agony as seven minutes added time came up on the fourth official’s board.
Britt was adjudged to have fouled Burke as he was beaten to a header having gone into the big defenders back. Coulson was bundled over by Wilks seconds after he had barged into Johnson earning the games first yellow. The free-kick delivery wasn’t great as Friend couldn’t get underneath it in the Hull box. Wilks was again involved in a tussle just outside the Boro box with Johnson and kicked the ball away when the whistle went against him. No doubt Warnock will have detected that he perhaps was one to target in the second half.
A brilliant run by Spence leaving a trail of Hull defenders in his wake wasn’t rewarded with a Boro goal that his run deserved as his cross was cut out. That brought the half to an end in what was a somewhat unspectacular game after those two early goals. Scrappy and messy with neither side really looking to get a grip of the game. It was very stop-start with lots of niggling fouls preventing the game from flowing. Boro with Spence and Roberts showed the most flair and arguably perhaps were the more deserving but no doubt Warnock will have been firing a few rockets up backsides in the dressing room.
Hull brought on Lewis-Potter for Stewart in the second half, Boro remained unchanged. A far post free-kick from Hull was hoofed clear and from that Coulson broke to feed Johnson whose cross was deflected into Long’s arms. A dangerous Wilks cross had Boro hearts in mouths and as it was cleared it came straight back down the opposite flank with the youngster Lewis=Potter putting his shot well over. Meanwhile, Spence looked in discomfort but was able to resume the game now four minutes into the second half. A long-range Batty free-kick saw more scrappy headers and flicks from the Boro defence. Paddy McNair drifted into the Hull box but had the ball nicked off his toes earning a corner. On 51 minutes Spence succumbed with Lewis Wing coming on, the corner won by McNair was wasted as it was cleared and Robert’s follow up cross was overhit.
Howson went to Right Back for Boro with Wing going into midfield. Pennington flew into Coulson’s back giving away a free-kick which Johnson lofted straight into Long’s hands. The game was probably even more scrappy than the first half with quality ominous by its absence on the part of both sides. Coulson and Johnson linked up well but Long got down to the cross in what was the best passage of play in the second half on 57 minutes. A great cross from Howson was met at the near post by Coulson but he glanced it well over on 58 minutes. As 60 minutes ticked over Warnock looked as though he was about to make a change.
A great dribble by Howson cutting in between two defenders pulled it back for Saville whose 18-yard shot was deflected out for a corner that was pulled back for an infringement allowing Tavernier to come on for Roberts. A 63rd-minute free-kick from Boro highlighted the lack of skill n display as it was hit out to the opposite right flank and then hit into no man’s land in the Hull box as ideas and creativity were in very short supply.
A drink break in the 67th minute was about as exciting as the action had been in the second half which had so far sapped the very soul out of the most ardent Boro or Hull fan. Johnson was fouled ten yards into the Hull half on 70 minutes and the floated ball in was strangely deemed offside but it was more a let-off for Boro than Hull as the knocked-on header was beyond any rampaging red shirt. A ball worked in from the wing by Assombalonga saw Tavernier try his luck with a curling shot from twenty yards out that just went wide in the 74th minute.
Tavernier had the ball in the net on the 76th minute but it was ruled out for an apparent foul on Da Silva. It looked like Da silva had lost his footing and fell in front of Tav but regardless the game remained 1-1. On 78 minutes Britt went off for Fletcher to come on as Boro had been awarded a free-kick which Saville blasted a shot goalward deflected by Magennis.
Hull made a double change on 80 minutes with Batty going off for Toral and Magennis off for Eaves. An immediate break from Toral found Lewis-Potter but Howson stood strong to see out the danger. A dribble from Coulson into the Hull box found him taking one touch too many allowing Long to come out and collect with four minutes of the ninety remaining. A one-two in the “D” between Wing and Tav ended with Tav fouling two defenders as the frustration continued.
A miss-hit cross-field pass from Friend summed the game up with a minute of normal time remaining. Four added minutes were shown and a lobbed cross was nodded down by De Wijs to Wilks to toe-poke the winner in the 92nd minute. A last-minute piece of typically overplaying in the Hull box from Boro ended with no shot from anyone and a yellow card for Coulson.
The strange tactical tweak of removing Fletcher for Coulson didn’t work and there was little on display from either side to suggest they deserve staying up in what was a truly awful game with little or no quality on display apart from that Kane free-kick. As much as that performance away at Stoke gave hope this was as bad as anything under Woodgate. We looked clueless for large parts apart from individual cameos from Robert’s and Spence. Tav came on and ran at the Hull defence and was maybe robbed of a legitimate goal but his habit of pushing opponents over doesn’t help his cause
I can’t award a MOM as there were too many poor performances in a game that was crying out for someone to get a grip and impose themselves. Perhaps it just highlights Warnock’s conclusion that there are no leaders in this squad but regardless the ineptness from Boro tonight has now left them just one point above the relegation places. Hull have now leapt a point above Boro with their first win since New Year’s Day.