Hull City 0-0 Luton Town
It was a much improved performance. Defensively, we were very solid, limiting Luton to barely 2 half chances. In the midfield, we harried well and supported the front men, although it was disappointing that we didn't play more through midfield. We probably created more chances than the Palace game and certainly created better ones. We missed 2 or 3 really guilt edged chances. Parkin hit the `keeper when 1 on 1 in the first half, he took it too early and tried to hit it with the outside of his boot, he should've gone on another yard and hammered it. He also missed one in the second half, hitting over after a repeat of his goal against Barnsley when he out-jumped the `keeper. Elliott hit two decent free-kicks in the 1st half, Mills had a curling shot cleared off the line, Fagan volleyed just wide and late on Mills hammered a free-kick which the keeper clawed out and then superbly saved France's rebound.
In the last minute and a half, Elliott smashed one in which the ref ruled out, possibly for a fouled by France or Bridges. It looked incredibly harsh, both jumped for headers competitively. Everyone in the ground was jumping about; it never crossed anyone's mind that it might be a foul. It was incredibly gutting. It would have been a deserved win. We started well and went at them for half an hour, not incredible pressure, but we controlled the ball and made chances. They came into it before half time, playing good football in the midfield and sliding one or two dangerous crosses across the six yard box, one which Vine might have knocked in had he not fallen over. In the second half, it was pretty even in terms of possession, they played better football, we hit it longer and got players forward and were generally a lot more effective. Their only chance was another ball across the box that Mills blocked bravely on the six yard line. It was pretty bitty second half; the ref blew up a lot for innocuous challenges. He was poor in general, although he wasn't helped by a pair of idiotic assistants. He booked Parkin for diving following a tangle of legs in the penalty area which was ridiculous. There was definite contact and it was a penalty if deliberate and a goal kick if not, nothing more.
Individually, most can be very pleased with their nights work. Bo kicked far better and seemed to enjoy Elliott's presence on the left wing. He caught two crosses comfortably but had nothing else to do. Mills was very, very good. Once or twice his distribution was iffy, but he talked to people, chirped at the referee, tackled hard, won headers and should've scored. Coles was excellent too, the guy is a class act. He's so cool under pressure, distributes nicely with time and doesn't mess around without it. Whether it was headers, blocks or tackles, he was brave and reliable and never looked fazed. Welcome back, Danny boy. Turner looked quite assured alongside him. He had a tricky opponent in Rowan Vine and was occasionally out- tricked by him, but overall, he won his headers, stayed calm and didn't dive into tackles. He was much stronger in the challenge. Ricketts is a classy full-back, he looked even better on the left. He's super-fit and showed it in injury time when he ran from his own half, beat 3 men and played a lovely ball into France or Bridges who got in each others way.
The midfield was decent, but still didn't deliver a lot. The better through balls came from Mills, really. Ashbee struggled to keep up with them and looked a bit lost at times. They had two spells of good possession when we didn't get near them. He lasted the pace well and looked strong in the last ten minutes, but it wasn't a vintage performance. Welsh alongside was the pick of the midfield, he was a nuisance; he chased and harried them at every opportunity between the two boxes and used the ball well. It was nice to see him get forward and show his worth around their box. Elliott won a few headers and popped up with the `goal' but didn't do a lot else. He looked fitter and defended 50 times better than at West Brom. In general play, he struggled to get involved and didn't really look a goal threat until the end. Fagan did his usual job. He was better when he came inside late on. He works hard and provides an out-ball, but very little comes in from the right in terms of crosses or shots.
Forster was impressive up front. He's very quick and caused them a headache. He wins a fair few headers for a small guy. There wasn't a great deal of cohesion between him and the Beast though; it needs work as a partnership. He's a different type of striker to Bridges, he looks to get in behind or pulls wide and tries to beat defenders from there, it nearly worked too. Parkin had a fair game; he made chances for himself, won free-kicks and held up the ball pretty well. Unfortunately, he missed the chances that came his way, which makes his overall contribution appear less. He's not particularly mobile, but he causes problems. You'd still like someone to plant a cross on his head once in a while. He's always around the 6 yard box when the ball's wide, but nothing decent comes in. He's scored 5 goals from about 9 chances this season; we'd win more if we gave him the opportunity to put the ball in the net. The chances he had tonight, he made through his strength and his willingness to annoy the defence.
On to Preston, a game we should lose heavily according to the form book, but we look capable of keeping things tight and nicking a goal. As 11 players, we're not bad but we haven't looked like a team all season. Send your answers on a postcard if you remember us string 5 or 6 passes together at any point. Tonight the defence looked better as a unit and hopefully we can build on that and start to find some consistency. We've had a lot of chances tonight, without ever really finding a killer ball or a great cross. That's got to be encouraging, because if we ever do play some football, we'll give someone a thrashing.
Ratings: Bo 7; Mills 8, Ricketts 7, Coles 8, Turner 7; Fagan 6, Elliott 6 (Delaney), Ashbee 6, Welsh 7; Parkin 7 (France), Forster 7 (Bridges).