To Hull and back…

Chambers: Missed the best chance in an impressive Reds second half

Hull City – 0
Nottingham Forest – 0

Wouldn’t have been unhappy with a draw before the game – nor at half time, after a fairly drab first half where Hull had all the possession but seemed to utilise it everywhere but the final third and a few potshots from range, but after a much improved second half I think we can feel justifiably a little bit unlucky not to have nicked a win.

I’m going to stand by my generic-stadium comment from the preview, it’s slightly more interesting than many flatpack bowls thanks to the bulge and extra tier but, well, it’s not that different.  A decent enough ground, though – and it appears to have sun-lamps built into the roof, presumably a throwback to Phil Brown’s time in charge!  The home fans to our left were reasonably noisy which was good for banter, much like any fans (ours included) the noise levels correlated with their team’s performance.

Billy mixed up the squad a bit for this, and it took me post-match reflecting to realise that it probably worked – letting Hull have not particularly dangerous possession in the first half whilst going for it in the second, but must confess that at the time it raised a few eyebrows.. of course, the late change for Wilson was enforced:

Gunter    Morgan    Chambers    Bertrand
Cohen    McKenna    Moussi    McGugan    Anderson

A tough ask of Earnie, to operate as a lone frontman against the giants Gerrard and Ayala! At first I thought Lewis was designed to be a support upfront but he seemed to spend a fair bit of time on Bullard, the talismanic midfielder operating fairly deep most of the time for the home side.

That said, we weren’t exactly denying him space – he had the first chance from 30 odd yards which Camp had to touch over just to make sure at the expense of a corner, it was probably the best hit he would make all game though!  A rare move forward for Forest saw Bertrand fire just wide when unmarked.

The Reds were sketchy in possession, Cohen spooned a clearance which fell to Bostock who set himself up for a spectacular effort from the edge of the area – but he put it wide.  The Reds got a bit closer after Earnie was tripped by Bullard, the resulting freekick was hit by Lewis but was just wide – and looked to be well covered by the diving Duke.

Hull were retaining a lot of possession – they must’ve had a move that had about 30 odd passes in it (mostly between defenders and deep-sitting midfielders admittedly), which culminated in a shot on target, which let the move down as it was a soft one from Bostock which was very straightforward save for Lee Camp to make.

After this the game descended into something approximating chess, but without the excitement.  It wasn’t that Forest were playing badly, but this was definitely a side set out to limit damage from the home side rather than be reckless, and it did cause some chuntering in the away end – but as we’ve learned with Forest, it is very much a game of two halves!  There were signs we’d started to work out we had more midfielders than them, and we were working out how to get through them.

Whether it was due to a criticism of their first half lack of endeavour or a deliberate change of tactic from Billy (I suspect the latter), the Reds were a very different beast in the second half – initially without creating any direct chances, before a cracking corner from McGugan gave Chambers a free header, from four yards out – it was a banker really – he put it wide.  Gutted.  That was the chance.  Ayala – otherwise fairly flawless in his performance – totally lost Chambers who made a great run, got the space… and fluffed his header.  D’oh!

Earnie too came close with a difficult header from a McKenna cross, the ball again ending up the wrong side of the post from our perspective.  Hull changed their shape either by design or to try to nullify the more rampant Reds with two chances, but it didn’t really seem to make too much different as Forest continued to press.

And we thought the moment had finally come – Earnie latched onto the ball, burst clear of the defender and looked to have let Duke get too close before somehow lifting the ball over him and into the goal.  It took a gut-wrenching amount of time for some of us to spot the offside flag – the Sky studio apparently decreeing it was close, but the right call.  There was certainly no daylight between Rob and the defender, but he was infront – heaven only knows what the actual rules are these days!

Similar to the Millwall game, Earnie then required to go off – apparently it’s not his hamstring this time – and it’s the other leg, and not thought to be serious.  Phew!  Dex replaced him, Anderson was later withdrawn for Tys, then McKenna for Raddy but Forest had kinda run out of steam and the home side were again starting to build possession, if not really converting it to chances.

Chambers put a decent block in on a Cullen effort – the Reds kept trying to get forward but struggled to fashion too many chances (I forget the precise timing  of this, but whilst it’s in mind we did have one cracking corner which was whipped in low straight to Lewis on the edge of the area who bet it on the volley, but it was blocked by a Hull player).

All in all, I stand by feeling a bit unlucky not to have nicked it – that said, the Tigers had the best of the first half even if we did largely restrict them to efforts from long range.  Bullard (man of the match? my arse! given it was a text vote by home fans I’d have picked Ayala at the back) had a few opportunities from range and we know he can cause problems from there, we were lucky in as much as he wasn’t finding his range I suppose.

But a draw’s a good result – and a good performance, a workmanlike first half and a positive second half.  Can’t really grumble at that – Hull are a decent side who’ll certainly be targeting the playoffs or better.  Whilst it’s not always entertaining to watch, it was good to see Forest restrict them reasonably well in the first half.

On another note whilst I’ve been away I was checking on Twitter and spotted that Reds fan Max Newton completed the Great North Run earlier today – thanks to both Derby County and Forest supporting friends – dressed as Derby captain Robbie Savage. (Max foolishly offered to dress up as whatever his sponsors voted for, y’see).

Well done Max!  Anyone wanting to take pity on him for not only running miles but in the worst possible costume can do so by clicking here.

Back to Hull, after a 34 year gap it was good to get my first opportunity to tick them off my list of grounds visited, and my geographical ignorance was exposed when their fans started chanting ‘Yorkshire’ at us as I’d always assumed Hull was in Humberside!  I got an A in Geography as well… into the dunce corner for me this week!