|Mullet added 21:14 - Sep 15|
A change is as good as a rest. Town have had both now in varying quantities and qualities as the trip to Hull marked a sense of carpe diem amongst the 800 or so almost East of England today. Gerken retaining his spot, the back four the same as the pre-international break. Donacien exiled from the squad as Spence, Pennington, Chambers and Knudsen remained. Downes to the left of Skuse, Edwards to the right, Graham left and Nolan stands, stuck in the middle behind Walters.
Hull were a recognised 4-2-3-1 unlike Town, and their line up was largely own brand over household names. The game started with 3 minutes of turgid kick and huff, until Frazier Campbell found a sense of urgency where no one else around him did.
Town’s neat interlocking passes on the left, picked apart as the experienced striker pounced on Downes’ back and lack of vision to dispossess the midfielder, and spring Town’s backline. Chambers came roaring across to the left, where he was playing in theory at least, and stood him up well. But the lack of shape in the middle allowed left-sided right winger Bowen to hit the bullseye from close range.
The air poured out of the away fans, and the team, after only 4 minutes. What had come from nothing in the build-up, was a look at what we should have won all game.
It wasn’t the first time this season that Town failed to really do much of note until the 40 or so minute mark. Those already huddling at kiosks missed perhaps the most incisive moves of the half. Jonas offered an outlet on the overlap, Graham’s instinct and habit of cutting in saw him raid across the Tigers’ midriff but fail to land a body blow.
Walters let him in on the turn to fire wide earlier in the half, but this contrasted nicely with free kick too far out to shoot and an attempted wedge too far wide, and with too much, to trouble anyone but the incredulous Suffolk contingent tearing at air and hair as one. The opposing outlet of Edwards on the right sporadically cut across a decent ball and saw the hope of attack at the back post thwarted too often.
When Nolan lashed a left footed volley first time in a sub-Scholesian moment of hope, it was only after the crash of the ball into the stand you realised an extra touch might have opened up the goal and sent Marshall before the shot was off, instead of him seeing it wide.
Up until those passages it was a set piece that looked most likely to yield a goal, and for once in the right direction away from Town’s net. Skuse did well to find a header from a deep corner and Nolan flicked the second ball wide when another go might have brought about more, but not today.
Once Hull had the early lead, they treated their fans diluted amongst banks of empty seats to a simple display of playing without fear, rather than fearlessness. The hard running and persistent fouling of Campbell on Pennington frustrated blues fans but allowed all their defending to be done from the front.
Each restart of play saw Tigers tightly mark a man as the offending striker sat off the set piece between centrebacks and Town felt their only option was to try and find Walters’ head or a yard behind Elphick and De Wijes. Whilst the defenders never looked comfortable they barely had to shift their feet to be on an even keel.
Playing as unit through the thirds, Town off the ball were string out high and tight like wires never likely to trip the attacking runs of the home side or see our players explode into action. In much the same way as the first goal, Chambers played a slack ball to Knudsen and again Bowen finished a move that should never gained any trajectory. Our best defenders, were having the worst time defending all game, as was our way of making the former Hereford winger look like a Humberside Nedved today.
If pre-match had seen fans talking about the “first win” they anticipated, at the half way mark they were making many points about how we might or would take just one today. When the second half kicked off, you’d have been forgiven for thinking such expulsions were taking our chances with them somewhere over the North Sea by now.
Where the midfield had been soft in middle and Hull happily teased Skuse and Nolan forward to reply with countering breaks all game, now the Town players had solidified a little. Nolan who looked like a number 8 asked to play as a 10 all game didn’t disappear so easily. It was this renewal that saw Graham with acres of space at the back post. Again, Edwards pressed down the flank like Paul Anderson with glitter in his boots and laid a chance on a plate for his counterpart. A chest too much when a diving header or instinctive volley might have done it, Graham turned his attention to scoring too slowly and the home side didn’t need to milk the moment as they cleared all too easily.
There was a lack of rhythm or guts to Town’s play, the high hopes were not matched by high presses just high balls too often. When Campbell was finally booked after his fifth or sixth final warning the frustration and sarcasm directed at the officials was a stark reminder that too often, us fans are looking at the deficiencies of others outside the club for signs things are not our fault.
When Hurst eventually shuffled his side, Downes who had never really got going bar a scuffed drive from distance wide, was buried in the dugout and Jackson replaced him. Nolan finally took up a position he looked comfortable in, giving the ball and responsibility to others in a way Grant Leadbitter used to, closer to when Walters was here before.
The former Stanley player cut past the home side’s early sub only to be hauled down on halfway as Town looked to broke. A second booking for them, but no second chances for us as the offence was miles away from threatening anyone when play restarted.
If the system Hurst has implemented isn’t broken, why is he meeting the unfamiliar ground of the second tier, with the unfamiliar retreat to the conventionally prehistoric 4-4-2? When we had spent so long paddling furiously only to remain sunken at the bottom of the table, who else might we throw on but Rowe?
It worked in the sense it forced the more direct aspects of Town to be met with greater thought by Hull, but when Graham was spared and Edwards replaced by the returning from injury and U23’s action winger, the confusion was tangible on the lips and brows buried deep in the KCOM’s corner.
Harrison completed the weekly changes of personnel and not fortunes late on, as Hull spent their time shrinking back only to burst forward. Bowen who looked like he might force save after save from Gerken will feel hard done by not to double his haul for the season and the game. Evandro who had glanced a header over from the front post in the first half glanced up long enough to send Jackson away.
The antipodean answer from Adkins that saw our 4-2-3-1 subdued by their 3-5-2 as Oxford went from centre-back playing right back, to right-sided centre back with little discernible difference merely shrugged off Spence as time and the game drew to a close.
Latching on to the Portuguese inventiveness of a simple long ball over the top, he bore down on the charging Deano and dropped the ball and 3points in the onion bag with Town totally overwhelmed and spluttering off of the field.
Even the introduction of pantomime villain Chris Martin was met with shrugs. He hauled his frame off the bench like a man willing to waive this week’s match fees just to have 5 minutes alone with our defence.
Chaos is merely a pattern we are yet to understand, yet we lack any kind of shape or consistency. In a season you could forgive for being streaky we are now a skidmark on the form table so broad and so rancid it has already seen people contemplating a change on the walk out of the ground. Their distrust skittling between Yorkshiremen full of glee and wonder and reverberating in the ears of everyone.
With 2 points between us and anyone else right now it seems there a two points lost on Hurst. If teams resemble their managers, what is our identity exactly? Why are we so open, lacking in ideas, unable to change and adapt in games and where does yet another selection shuffle leave us?
Town fans might fall back into the binary camps of before, but more worryingly with a multiple POTY missing and seemingly at odds with the new regime, enough players in the squad to make more than two teams, a former captain brought in and a current one brought to task as he plays in a team and position unfamiliar to him, if change was so vital and so badly needed; have we seen too much of a good thing too soon?