Hull City 0-2 Stoke City

Last updated : 18 November 2006 By Rick Skelton
It's hard to know what to make of that performance. The result is atrocious, but overall, we weren't that bad and we had chances to take something.

We were always chasing the game after conceding an abysmal first minute goal. Danny Higginbotham was totally unmarked in the box from a corner. Ricketts was marking him late in the game, so I assume he lost him. It was very, very poor defending. They played well in the first half, but we dominated the 20 after the break and should have equalised. Elliott was the main man, forcing an incredible save from a free-kick and hitting a half volley too close to the 'keeper. The best chance fell to him. Well, it didn't. Forster broke away, drew 2 defenders and had Elliott steaming down the middle on his own. He didn't pass and lost the ball. If he just decided to go himself, it was the stupidest bit of football you'll ever see. To be fair to Fozzy though, I think he might have thought Stuey had strayed offside but I suppose we'll never know. Either way, Stuey wasn't offside and it was a golden chance squandered. They broke away after we messed around in midfield and scored a goal they didn't really deserve. They were physically strong and quick, but pretty un-ambitious after half time and content to shut up shop and bore the game out.

The pressure will be on the gaffer again. He picked a decent side, given the choices. The only debatable choice is Delaney. No-one but Taylor and Parkinson think the guy is a midfielder. He was a passenger last week and he was again today. The style of football just isn't good enough. Parky will claim it's ugly because we're third bottom and it needs to be ugly but we're third bottom BECAUSE it's ugly. Today we played a lot of rubbish long balls which Forster willingly chased but had no chance with. From back to front, no-one takes any responsibility on the football and they're just happy to boot it out of their 'zone'. The defence faced a big challenge today and it was made worse because the ball kept going back to Stoke. We have good players, but we play horrid football and we don't play to anyone's strengths. Obviously from Parky's post match interview he's more interested in getting in a big guy up front than in improving the way we use the ball. Meanwhile, his £600,000 worth of striker signings can sit back on the bench. I don't think Bridges has done anything to suggest he has to play at the moment, but if he's not going to play, then Parky chucked away a lot of money.

We defended poorly, not just the 4 guys at the back, but those in front of them as well. Delaney and Jarrett played like donkeys. They were slow, they didn't affect the game and they didn't win or use the ball. To a lesser extent, Marney didn't harry or chase and tackle to the same degree as last week. When the ball did come through, we were all at sea at the back. This may be debatable, but I thought Coles was the poorer of the defenders and Turner did OK against the massive physical challenge of marking Sidibe. Coles made a couple of decent last ditch tackles, but he had to because he was ball watching to start with. Second half, we did better and Turner didn't put a foot wrong. Ricketts struggled with Hendrie. Pre-match, Parky said Ricketts was going to show Hendrie on to his left foot and challenge him to beat him for pace. Not once did that happen, he came inside and picked passes every time. Perhaps Ricketts should have listened to Radio Humberside in the dressing room? Distribution isn't in the dictionary of our defenders. If we made one good pass out of defence, I can't recall it.

The midfield was sluggish. No-one reacted to what others were doing. On occasions, Fagan, Forster and Barmby worked hard to chase down lost causes, but each was 'rewarded' with his team-mates standing and watching him. We were second to every ball that dropped everywhere on the pitch. Jarrett's run of good games screeched to a halt at 2. The problem is we don't have players who'll affect that, except perhaps Welshy. Livermore and Ashbee have no pace. We don't need more players to point and shout, we need someone to put a foot on the ball and take the pressure off his team mates. We've needed it for such a long time that it gets boring to have to keep saying it. Marney doesn't appear to have the confidence or ability to do it. He was quiet today. His best contribution was a wonderful run from deep that was ended by a cynical 'tackle' from a tubby, talentless substitute.

Up front, Forster worked really hard and chased shadows like usual. He didn't have a chance to score really. Fagan seemed more interested in getting Andy Griffin sent off than scoring. His first contribution was a superb piece of wing play, leaving Griffin for dead, but after that he didn't really create anything, although he was a willing runner and a good out-ball as usual. I'll save the best for last - Elliott was great. In general play, he did nothing except work back to help out, but when the ball went near the box, he looked a real threat again. On another day, he'd have had a hat-trick. Long may it continue!

A little bit of the same old, same old of this season, really. We've two tough away games coming up against Norwich who are world beaters one week and rubbish the next and Colchester, who are bound to beat us because, well it always happens to managers at their old club. We'll go through the box of clichés about putting it behind us and building on the last three games, but none of that masks the real issue. We spent a lot of money in the summer to bring in quality players and we've been left with a team that is worse than last season and plays trashy football. The gap is opening up and we're going to be left in a dogfight with Leeds and Barnsley, and we know Leeds will chuck a load of money around in January. Do we do the same and more to the point; do we trust Parky to spend it? We currently have Bridges and Welsh, perhaps the best 2 players in the squad, sat on the bench or in the stand because we can't play with them in the side, or we don't have the bottle to. We could play and try and pass the ball and give away 30% of the passes and lose 3-0. But we might just make 85-90% good passes and make more chances and score goals. I know which I'd rather watch, relegation or not.

Ratings: Bo 7, Ricketts 5, Dawson 6 (Barmby 4), Coles 5, Turner 7, Jarrett 5, Delaney 6, Marney 5, Fagan 6, Elliott 8 (Yeates -1), Forster 6 (Bridges n/a).