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City v Hull - brief web match review
Published : 14 Sep 2010 01:09:34
It was a scrappy affair so little wonder BBC's flagship Football League Show decided not to make it the main match, as scheduled. No Bellamy, Bothroyd, no Chopra, no Drinkwater and, during the game, no Olifinjana either but a sign of Cardiff's squad strength was that they still managed to overcome Hull City 2-0 and with relative comfort too in a game that won't live too long in the memory after another home sell out crowd, 24,083. However given the whole midfield and attacking spine of City's team was missing, it has to rank as the most worthy victory of the season and sends out another powerful message with City 2nd on goal difference only behind QPR, 2 points clear of the chasers and 5 points ahead of the side outside the play-offs and Cardiff's 4th successive league win, the first time that the club have managed such a feat for 4 years.It seemed like fate that Seyi Olifinjana, on loan from Hull who still pay almost two thirds of his wages, scored the winner nipping in front of Anthony Gerrard on loan from Cardiff. Victory was wrapped up by the rarest of items, a Gavin Rae goal, late on in a contest in which Cardiff were hardly threatened all afternoon.With those absentees, City had only one available striker in Andy Keogh who made his full debut in a 4-5-1 system. Also starting their first league games of the season were Jason Koumas and Steve McPhail while Kevin McNaughton returned form his latest injury as Dave Jones' side lined up Marshall, McNaughton-Hudson-Gyepes-Naylor; Whittingham-McPhail-Olifinjana-Koumas-Burke; Keogh.It was only just over 3 years ago that Hull won on the last day of the Championship season with a win at Ninian Park to avoid relegation to League One. Yet they were promoted to the Premier League next term, survived first time but on and off field problems saw them return to this level.Their start has been far from spectacular with an opening day home win over Swansea but it's 4 league and cup defeats plus a draw since but manager Nigel Pearson was back in charge after missing their last game and was hospitalised with chest pains. This latest defeat on the road means they are now 27 matches dating back to March 2009 and they have now lost all 4 away games this term. Despite getting rid of big names and big earners as they grapple with massive financial problems and being saddled with Jimmy Bullard taking home almost £50k a week for training with the youth team, they still have enough decent names on their team sheet with players like Koren, Daniel Ayala (on loan from Liverpool), McShane and Craig Fagan returning from injury, Barmby and Kilbane. However, on the evidence at CCS, they looked far off being a team.Hull City: Duke; McShane-Ayala-Gerrard-Dawson; Kilbane-Ashbee-Barmby-Koren-Garcia; FaganThe pattern of the contest emerged in its earliest stages with Keogh a lone front man working hard but finding it a struggle to win the ball and when he did, a bigger struggle to find any City player within 10 to 15 yards of him to lay off to. He's not that type of player but, even so, he gave both Hull centre halves a tough afternoon, Gerrard and the spoiler Ayala would have been trounced had Bothroyd and Bellamy been available.On a pitch with lines cut across the pitch but different shaded circles all over (what is it? Steve McPhail turning points?), City should have scored early when Whittingham brilliantly beat three opponents in the tightest of spaces then played the ball across the face of the box but McPhail's stabbed left footer rolled just wide of the far post with Duke beaten.The opener was on 20 minutes as Burke won a free-kick on the touchline, Whittingham whipped in the perfect ball and OLIFINJANA powerfully heading home beating Gerrard and getting between both centre halves. Cardiff settled to play some superb football without having the cutting edge and McNaughton was so unlucky on a charge that beat 3 men before his low shot bounced off the far post while, at the other end, Marshall had to make two saves, both from chances originating from Lee Naylor's wayward distribution.Cardiff were on top and deservedly winning at the break but there was little to report.Half-time: Cardiff 0 Hull 0Half-time entertainment was 50 or more cheerleaders performing a messy routine, more entertaining was Ali playing The Beatles' Money Can't Buy Me Love and dedicating it to Wayne Rooney.The second half was a strange affair with the game played at a canter. Cardiff were more than happy to protect what they had while Hull surprisingly showed no urgency, desire or creativity to want to get back into it. Half chances came and were all Cardiff's as Keogh almost flicked home at the near post and Koumas went close twice, an angled drive and a mid box volley before going just wide of the same post.Hull offered nothing so made changes and there was worry as Arsenal's on loan Jay Simpson, scorer of 2 for QPR in a win at Cardiff last season, seemed able to turn Mark Hudson with far too much ease but City's defence, despite rarely being worked, were resolute and undoubtedly chuffed to record their third successive Championship clean sheet a run which has not seen them concede for over 5 hours of football.Olifinjana, having signalled to the bench, made way early second half for Gavin Rae having again been so influential. However Jason Koumas, far less influential and anonymous for the most part, was replaced by Wildig with 15 to go and those subs made an impact. Rae did well after a poor first touch back which almost sent a Hull player in on goal while Wildig, looking much stronger, more than played his part too.The pair were involved in the second goal that finished it on 81 minutes. A long Naylor pass, Keogh winning a rare flick down, Whittingham brought the ball inside, Wildig took a pass and flicked a delightful reverse pass and GAVIN RAE stabbed home from 6 yards, the ball travelling through keeper Matt Duke's legs. A lovely move which Ali announced as "Gavin Rae's first goal of the season", forgetting to add it will be his last goal too!Cardiff threatened to add a third but never did and coasted to final whistle. A test they passed with surprising ease given how they had to re-adjust but certainly no classic.Still, it was worth a celebration and a few of us took to the Napier, the Cardiff City karaoke was excellent and ended up with Mr Statto (John Heyda) and Mike Morris amongst others in an Indian restaurant that doesn't sell drink which sent us running to off licences and Tesco for our Cobra's - Happy Daze!