Hull City 2-1 Queens Park Rangers

Last updated : 13 January 2007 By Rick Skelton
After the most frustrating yet exciting game of the season, we're sitting quite pretty. On Boxing Day, when we sat 5 points adrift, anyone who suggested that 18 days later we'd be 4 points clear of the relegation zone and within spitting distance of 3 or 4 other sides would have been sectioned. We made hard work of it, but we showed bags of character, refused to give up on 3 points and incredible discipline to keep our system and to avoid getting involved in the scuffle that QPR were desperate to cause.

On paper, scoring twice in the last 5 minutes looks lucky, but the truth is, we had no luck today, not a bit and what we actually got was the most deserved late winner I've ever seen. Had we lost the game, as it looked like we might, it would have been unjust. We were the better team from about the 3rd minute until 5 minutes into stoppage time. In the first half, we played some really good football, whereas in the second, it was more direct, but we were always in control and always threatening. We had 10 or so corners to their none. We had 7 or 8 great chances to their 2 and one of those was a gift.

If we'd scored early on, we would've run riot. McPhee finished brilliantly from Barmby's pass but was judged to be offside, wrongly too, I'd say. Shortly after, Turner shot wide when clean through and we went on to spurn a host of chances, hitting the post and bar in the process. Our play had been very tidy up to that point, including a couple of delightful, free flowing moves. After that, QPR's spoiling tactics kicked in, time wasting and play acting and the game lost a bit of fizz. The referee, who was hideously weak for 70 minutes was happy to let it go on. They did themselves no favours too. Ray Jones was genuinely injured with blood pouring from a head wound, but because they'd spent the first half hour looking for an opportunity to waste time, neither the City players or the Ref would stop the game.

It may be a touch of black and amber tinted spec's but, yet again, the referee didn't appear to give us anything. He pulled us up for every 50/50 and every niggle, while QPR got away with worse. He wasn't helped by the assistants, who were idiots. Following a diabolical decision not to take any action against their number 24, Kanyuka, when he took a goalbound Forster down on the edge of the box, albeit more clumsily than cynically, the referee seemed to grow a pair. He was excellent in the last 20, over-ruling the idiot lino on a throw-in decision, handing out cards for offences (gasp!), giving free-kicks fairly to both sides and sending off their number 17, Cook for being an abusive diving hooligan.

The ending was exciting and surreal, but totally deserved. Full credit to the chap in front of me, who after Parkin missed a sitter said "We've got to put Elliott on, he'll always get you a goal in a game like this."

The team was as at Sheff Weds but with McPhee and Ricketts for Fagan and France. The decision to leave out France was ridiculous, he's been our best player over the last 3 weeks. When Ricketts weakly allowed their guy to cross for their goal, I was ready to slaughter Brown! However, that feeling subsided when Ricketts made an incredible clearance off the line in the 23rd minute of stoppage time. On the whole, I still feel it was a poor decision. France has been a real threat from full-back and Ricketts got into good positions but didn't deliver the same threat. (France missed the game because of a neck injury - Ed)

McPhee played well and got in behind with clever running and good pace. He didn't quite have the end product, chipping a good chance over and tripping over a good crossing opportunity. Unfortunately his one great finish didn't count. Duffy replaced him and gave it a good go down the right. He made great runs off the ball and skinned the full back a couple of times. He definitely has the tools to play in that position but perhaps not the arrogance and aggression of the previous incumbent.

Myhill appeared to make a mistake for the goal. Although Ricketts let the ball come in too easily, it wasn't the hardest low cross and he should have held on to it. He didn't dwell on it and did the few things he had to do well. The two centre backs were absolutely excellent again. Dawson and Ricketts played high up the pitch and when QPR broke, they had two big, pacey front men and plenty of space to exploit but Turner and Delaney took up great positions, made timely tackles and were up to the physical challenge. They look a superb partnership and currently, they make up for the lack of pace with intelligent positioning and sheer determination. They complement each other and Turner looks much more comfortable as the right sided centre back. Dawson had another steady game but didn't deliver the ball well enough.

The midfield three worked hard but didn't really get going after a promising start. Ashbee sat in front of the back four and mopped up QPR clearances. He passed pretty well and remained calm when a while ago, he would've panicked and booted the ball. Livermore was pretty quiet, he kept moves going but generally just got on with his game. He was withdrawn when we went to 4-2-4 in the last 10 minutes. Marney had a mixed game. His free-kicks were awful, but he took good corners and looked very dangerous when we broke. He didn't get into the box enough although he did so in fine style for Elliott's equaliser. In today's type of game, when we have to open up the opposition, he doesn't quite have the vision, or perhaps the confidence, to break them down. When we break out of defence, he's much more effective because he's mobile, fit, a great dribbler and has a good eye for a pass. He's quick to see the full-back advancing and always open for a pass or a throw-in. I like him.

Up front, we played 6 strikers at one point or another. In the first half, Barmby was probably the poorest. He saw opportunities but didn't connect with the ball properly on several occasions. He hurt his ankle in a tackle after he'd pulled wide but taken a poor touch. He'll be out for Middlesbrough at least. After he went off, we didn't really suffer, because we played more direct. There wasn't a great deal of passing in the midfield, but instead, we hit balls into Parkin and tried to release the wider striker. Forster got a great deal of joy from the longer passes and gave their full back a hard time. He was unlucky not to score a couple of times. Parkin didn't have a great deal to work with. He was a nuisance, but not a great threat. He did make the equaliser with a superb piece of hold up play and lasted 90 minutes. He looks pretty rusty in front of goal though.

That just leaves Elliott who had just about the most perfect 15 minutes you will ever get from a footballer. Apart from hurting himself when nicking the ball off Dawson for a cross, he played a couple of good passes, raced down the wing to win a corner, hit a fizzing free-kick that was deflected over, took a superb corner that Ash headed over wastefully, poked in an equaliser and then headed the winner. Absolutely typical of the man. If he never scores for us again, we'll never forget today.

So a pretty decent 3 points considering the other results. After we created so many chances and had so little fortune, a different group of players might have accepted it just wasn't their day and given up. We showed bags and bags of character to keep hammering QPR and also to defend bravely after the winning goal when QPR had 2 dangerous free-kicks. Phil Brown continues to get results. 4 wins in 7 games is superb. Whether it's a honeymoon or just his great influence, long may it continue. Whatever you make of his starting line-up, you've got to admire the ambition he showed throughout the game. We've put ourselves in a great position to go and finish in the middle third of the division. We must keep going, keep showing the same desire and attitude and keep attacking with the same ambition and fervour. Polishing up the finishing would be a big help though!

Ratings: Bo 6, Ricketts 6, Dawson 7, Turner 8, Delaney 8, Ashbee 7, Livermore 6 (Elliott), Marney 6, McPhee 6 (Duffy), Parkin 6, Barmby 6 (Forster 7).