Hull City 1-2 Charlton Athletic
Tonight, we had the misfortune to witness professional football at it's absolute lowest. I've never ever been so upset at a football match as I was tonight. It hurts. Seeing the game I love reduced to 11 substandard Charlton players manipulating a gullible idiot. That isn't what the game is about. It's diabolical. Great footballers and great men would turn in their grave if they were to witness that. I hope Charlton Athletic are proud. I hope the 3 points are worth it. Hand on heart, I would rather go back to playing in the 4th Division against Morecambe and Grimsby then ever support a Hull City team who played like that. It stinks.
The biggest shame was that the referee and the Charlton players ruined an enjoyable game of football and a game that City were well on top in. We didn't turn our advantage into many goal scoring opportunities, but we played some good football and reduced Charlton to 3 or 4 free kicks from very long distance. We missed JJ, we lacked a good final ball and a bit of composure around the box and we missed the space he generates for his mates by occupying the minds of wary defenders. We used the ball well though, Dean Marney pulled plenty of strings and brought our full backs into the game whenever he could. Pedersen worried them down the left and Garcia roamed from wide to try and support Windass, while Bryan Hughes dropped into space wherever it appeared and gave a good passing option for the man on the ball. It was neat, effective passing football and it opened up plenty of opportunities to deliver the ball which we couldn't ake advantage of. Credit to the Charlton centre backs, they had a great game.
We defended pretty well too, both in midfield and defence. Ashbee and Marney closed down quickly and Charlton weren't able to find any of the room that Ipswich enjoyed in the first half on Saturday. The very dangerous combo of Varney and Iwelumo were well marshaled by Turner and Brown. Brown had his best game for City, he was superb. His timing in the tackle was impeccable and he inspired those around him. Dawson is trying, but left back looks the weak link every week. Sam Ricketts has no such problems, he gets better by the game. He struggled to get forward as much in the second half, as Charlton closed the game up, but he was immaculate at the back again and drove forward to create alarm in their defence. He played the pass of the match to Marney with a delightful reverse pass that had a touch too much weight on it. Great vision.
The referee didn't have any authority. He let early challenges slide and showed from the off that he could be conned easily. Things really kicked off with one of the most baffling incidents you'll ever witness. Dean Windass challenged Nicky Weaver (the Charlton 'keeper) for a high cross. Weaver spilled the ball and hit the floor. The referee allowed play to carry on, until Windass squared for Bryan Hughes to tap in, at which point he blew up because the 'keeper was down. The ethics of whether Windass should have put the ball out are arguable, but what isn't is that it wasn't the referee's decision to make. There was no sign of any serious injury and play should have continued. The referee then awarded Charlton a free-kick, despite deciding a minute earlier that no foul was committed. It left the players and fans seething. The game restarted with several hefty challenges that went unpunished and a succession of harsh free kick's against City. Similar challenges on City players went unpunished. Charlton scored from a soft free kick, when 3 players piled into Bo Myhill and the ball fell to Varney to tap in. I didn't think it was a foul, I think Bo Myhill should have shot out of goal, taken everything in his path and punched the ball clear, however, there was contact on Myhill. If the challenge on Weaver was a foul, then so was the challenge on Myhill. To compound things, in the second half the referee awarded a free kick for a very similar challenge on Myhill, again when Bo had made a mess of a punch. It was awfully inconsistent and caused major anger amongst the players on the pitch. This led to ...
Ashbee and Sam were sent off for violent conduct just before half time. A free kick was given against Ash, it looked very harsh again and Ash reacted by nudging Sam on the floor. Sam then jumped on Ash and they scuffled a bit before the other 18 outfield players piled in. The referee sent both off, probably rightfully, although Ash didn't appear to do a lot. He was obviously expected to lie on the floor and let Lloyd Sam punch him. That really was the end of the game. The second half was barely a contest, Both sides struggled to put passes together. Charlton cleverly exploited our left hand side a couple of times as Pedersen and Garcia tucked in to make things tight in the middle but that aside, the 40 minutes after half time was a non-event. Charlton's "professionalism" won through. They wasted time, they dived, they went down clutching their heads, they collapsed every time a City player breathed on them and they whined and complained at the incompetent referee who allowed himself to be played like a fiddle. In the second half, with City getting set to put another ball into the box, Chris Powell held his throat, staggered 5 yards with wobbly legs and collapsed, as if he were swallowing his tongue in the middle of a heart attack. The game stopped, the players ran over and everyone looked concerned. One magic sponge and a sip of water later and Powell made a miraculous recovery. If he were feigning, Chris Powell is the biggest piece of garbage in football. People have died on football pitches. To exaggerate to the lengths that colleagues and fans are genuinely worried just to halt the game for personal gain is disgraceful.
City tried to press, we passed the ball around at the back looking for an opening but rarely found a way passed Charlton's "two banks of four". PB put McPhee and Elliott on and pushed Pedersen up to make a three, followed by Turner, but we couldn't find the balls to penetrate their defence. It was impossible to get any momentum going as seemingly every 30 seconds a free kick was given against a City player, with very little obvious reason. Charlton scored a second goal on the break when we threw men forward and ended up 1 on 3 at the back. City deserve massive credit because that still wasn't enough to knock them down. We scored immediately, Steve McPhee tapping in a goal that his performance deserved. He was excellent when he came on, he worked and harried the defenders, held the ball up and caused them problems. We spent the rest of injury time camped in their area, apart from the occasions when Charlton players collapsed with 'head injuries' when we had the ball. On one such occassion, we had the ball on half way with all of our men on the edge of the box. From the restart, Danny Mills booted the ball within 2 yards of the corner flag to give us a throw and then Charlton pressured the throw and won the ball back. What happened to sportsmanship? Mills is obviously one of those players you turn a blind eye to if he's on your side, but I expected more from him. We gave him a home when Manchester City left him to rot and no-one else would pay his wages. I don't expect any favours, but nor do I expect him to cheat us. I wouldn't have him back if he was the last right back left on earth apart from Simon Trevitt.
No-one in the Tigers camp should be down-hearted tonight. We were absolutely done. We were taken for mugs by players who know how to play the game. Not football, they didn't have the skill or the heart to play football, but the other game that goes on at the top level these days. Manipulate the referee, con every decision you can from him, bully him and cheat the opposition. A horrible night for football, but a proud night for Hull City. We just played the game and nearly took a well deserved point. We're the good guys.
This all took place in front of an abysmal 15,001 people, with about 45 from Charlton. It's a truly awful turn out. Were are the people who watched last season? Where are the 19,000 who saw Stoke or the 24,000 who saw Chelsea? Paul Duffen and Phil Brown have built a team that we can support and be proud of. They've done everything that has been asked (demanded?) of them and they've done it in the face of the derision of so called fans. They've brought in ex-Premiership players, they've spent huge chunks of money, they've attracted a truly wonderful figurehead and they've put Hull City in the top half of the Championship and still people refuse to back them. It's disgusting. The people who have backed the Manager and Chairman deserve everything that is coming to them.
Ratings: Myhill 5, Ricketts 7, Dawson 6, Turner 7, Brown 8, Garcia 6 (Elliott), Pedersen 6, Ashbee 6, Marney 8 (Livermore), Hughes 6, Windass 7 (McPhee).