Hull City 1-0 West Ham United

Last updated : 27 October 2008 By Rick Skelton

London 0 Hull 4. An album released in 1986 by The Housemartins. It'll be everywhere tomorrow; all the national newspapers will pick up on the headline. What they won't do is let you know about the 2008 re-release. It's almost exactly the same as the original but features a few new tracks at the end. Track 17, "Folan's tap in", is great. Track 18 is even better, it's called "Don't shoot Geovanni, no-one scores past Arsenal from 35 yards". Fittingly, track 19 is a belter: "Gomes, Don't bother diving". The last track "Turner! One nil!" was only written today.

We made a good start in the game, unchanged from the squad that faced Tottenham a fortnight ago. Starting well has been a feature of our premier league performances thus far. We made the early running and created the first two half chances and looked pretty lively. The formation, 4-3-1-2 can be quite narrow but Boateng or Geovanni moved to the left when we gained possession to stretch the West Ham defence. Without the ball, we were still quite narrow and that caused us some problems. After about fifteen minutes, the visitors took control of possession and passed us almost to death for twenty minutes. They pushed the full backs on and with Bellamy and Etherington dropping deep, they had seven across midfield at times. Noble and Parker's movement off the ball was excellent and every second pass seemed to go through one or the other of them. Etherington dropped into the space behind Ashbee and found plenty of the ball, causing alarm as he ran at us. Bellamy chose to pull onto their left and exposed McShane. Actually, McShane did quite well but it was tough for him with Ilunga bombing on to support Bellamy. Bellamy skipped past McShane and put the ball on a plate for Carlton Cole inside the six yard box but he shot straight at Myhill. That was the big let off of the first half for us.

We were struggling to find any decent possession. The gap between the midfield and attack was massive and King and Cousin were chasing aimless long balls. When they did win the ball, there was no-one around to pick up the ball until Marney arrived. Marney was the only one of our midfield getting in their faces as he chased around tirelessly. Their left back Ilunga was booked for nicking the ball off Boaz as he tried to kick upfield and then scoring with a scissor kick. It was amusing to watch him protest his innocence to the referee. "Honest Ref, I thought it was allowed, please don't book me!" Our best move of the half came from a West Ham attack; Boateng won the ball in the left-back position with a slidey-hook tackle, played a one-two with Ashbee inside our area and found King with a left foot pass along the floor. King initially won the ball, then lost it to Neill but pressured the defender into passing straight to Cousin, he raced down the left, held the ball while King got into the box and then hung a super ball up beyond the back post were Marney raced from nowhere to connect with a neat volley that went a couple of yards wide of the near post. In the run up to half time, we started to win more of the ball and found some good possession. We moved the ball confidently across the pitch waiting for the opportunity, getting Geovanni on the ball several times in the "Goal against Arsenal" position. We couldn't find the right ball in though and the half fizzled out.

The start of the second half was better. Geovanni dropped into the midfield and we pressed them better as a team. They didn't find the rhythm they had in the first half. After five or so minutes of the half, we took the lead. Dawson, who'd delivered poorly throughout the first half, swung in a terrific corner and Turner met it with an unstoppable header from six yards. They could've responded immediately but Cole hit the bar from six yards after he'd out-muscled Turner. That was let off number two. In truth, West Ham barley threatened our goal after that, despite having lots more possession. Our best attempt to double the lead came from the excellent Zayatte. He intercepted a pass on half way, played a one-two in midfield and then ran at goal. Their defenders backed off him so he struck for goal, the ball whistling only a foot over the bar. We sat quite deep for the last half hour, closing any space behind our defence and challenging West Ham to play through us. It's not a comfortable tactic for fans but who can question Phil Brown when we've already been to Newcastle, Arsenal and Tottenham and defended superbly in similar circumstances?

West Ham couldn't play through us. They managed just one half chance while we had a Marney goal disallowed scandalously. He'd only been offside and then handled it, what's wrong with that? Hughes replaced the tiring Boateng and did a super job of defending while also keeping good possession and calming down some of those around him. Halmosi also came on, for Geovanni, and worked well down the left to quell the threat of Behrami, who'd been excellent. Marlon King looked tired up front but Garcia replaced Cousin in another move designed to protect our back line. With Turner winning every thing at the back and the midfield and King keeping good possession, the last ten minutes flew by.

Myhill had another comfortable afternoon. He'd been flawless until he charged out to punch a ball that had looped into the air and got nowhere near it. McShane spared him any embarrassment. We over-relied on Bo's boot in the first half which isn't really his fault. It does show the difference in quality though when you look at how well West Ham's defenders used to the ball compared to ours. We just rolled it back to Myhill and let him boot away possession. They were far more composed and if they did use Green, someone generally moved to receive a short pass. Still, when it came to actually defending, the better players were the ones in stripey shirts.

Zayatte was the pick of a good bunch in defence, he was terrific. What a find, he is. He's quick, he reads the play well, he's strong in the air and good in the tackle and he can really play. He's like Neil Clement but he's better at everything and he doesn't make stupid mistakes. Turner struggled in the first half to get anywhere near Cole, he lost him for the chance Cole spurned and he struggled in the air. Shortly before half time, he made a superb challenge on Etherington and then never looked back. He was immaculate in the air in the second half and made a tremendous challenge on Bellamy. Bellamy raced into our half and had he beat Turner; he would've had a decent run on goal albeit with Zayatte coming across. A few wags in the crowd shouted "Take him out" and it wouldn't have been a bad idea to take the inevitable yellow card and re-group but Turner didn't, he backed off a couple of paces, let Bellamy get the ball out of his feet and made a terrific sliding tackle. His goal was typical of him and well deserved. McShane continued in the same vein, he defended really well but distributed poorly. He gifted them possession early on, his balls forward were aimless and he crossed poorly after working hard to take up great positions. It was a similar story with Dawson, who defended well, he's making an art form out of reading attacks and sweeping up behind Zayatte and Turner. However, he found great crossing positions three times in the first half and crossed poorly, looping the ball to the far post where they dealt easily with it, far too easily in fact.

A mixed bag for the midfield; as a unit, they were too slow to press in the first half but excellent in the second. Marney had a great game; he put in bags of effort and picked up good loose possession on the edge of our box. On the ball, he was very assured and his decision making was excellent. He hit a cracking drive just over the bar in the first half. I'd love to see one of those fly in, he deserves it. Ashbee's distribution was almost immaculate. A lot of it is simple, short passes but he's expanding his range and passing longer or even flicking the ball over advancing opponents heads into Geovanni's feet. He made a few decent interceptions but wasn't as effective as he often is going backwards. Going forwards, he was energetic and his pass selection was superb. The third amigo, Boateng, did OK individually too. He covered a lot of ground, particularly as he covered the left hand side. He did hit the worst shot of the season though, failing to even hit the corner flag as he dragged a shot across the face of the penalty area and out for a throw. Hughes put in his best shift since Wembley. Halmosi was very impressive again. A terrific defensive weapon, who would've thought it? It was nice to see Garcia get on against his first old (and first) club. It was also his 50th City appearance.

Geovanni, the enigma, was a bit of a passenger at times. When we were struggling to regain possession, he wasn't a great deal of help although to be fair to him, it wasn't because of a lack of effort. He covered a lot of ground and at one point chased Bellamy from their half to our goal line. It's a pity he didn't tackle him at any point! Geo rarely gave possession away at all and kept the attacks ticking over but I felt that he could have done much better. He had possession in good wide positions 5 or 6 times but always chose to pass inside when he could've delivered a ball into the box. His reputation is growing. Whenever he cuts into the "Arsenal" position, opponents just charge at him. He used it to his advantage twice, firstly back heeling to Dawson, who delivered into Green's hands and the second time rolling the ball out to the right wing to open the game up. That will be a useful tool, alongside the ability to hammer the ball into the top corner from ridiculous distances and angles.

It was a tough day for the front two as we failed to provide them with decent service. They did a fine job at times of making chicken salad from chicken feed. Their work-rate was impressive again. In possession Cousin moves well, he's got good ball control and he's strong. King played more with his back to goal but did OK. It was probably his poorest game since the opening day but still a good effort. Both exploited space behind their right back at times and also did a good job of making Lucas Neill look like a mug. Their use of the ball in the wide left area was better than Geovanni or Dawson. King played a good ball across the box in the first half and Cousin beat Ilunga to the ball but was nudged in the back when it looked like he'd score. There wasn't a big shout for a penalty but I think it was one, albeit not one that many refs would be brave enough to give. Similarly in the second half, Boateng skinned Neill but was obstructed in the box. Refs don't give obstruction these days, they tend to just give them at fouls, except this one was in the box, so no decision. It's frustrating that some fouls are only fouls if they are outside the box. That needs addressing. The ref today, Chris Foy, was quite poor. He was indecisive and got a lot of small decision wrong. He booked Ilunga for nicking the ball and Dawson, rightly, for an obstruction outside the box, but didn't book ilunga for a lunge at Marney, Noble for a blatant dive in the penalty area or Neill for chopping down Halmosi after he'd got past him and was advancing towards the area.

I think Phil Brown will have been delighted today. He'll love the second successive one -nil. It's the sign of a good team after all, the ability to play below par and get a positive result. I find it unbelievable that we're still maintaining the two points per game ratio. In fact, we're beating it. We couldn't even do that last season. 17 points from 8 games is a ridiculous return. Only one promoted team has ever started a Premiership/League campaign better than we have. They went on to finish third. We won't, we can't, surely? Still, we've given ourselves a tremendous chance. To stay up, I mean, I'm not considering Champions League football. Normally, I'd say stranger things have happened, but I honestly don't believe that they have!

Ratings: Myhill 6, McShane 7, Dawson 7, Zayatte 9, Turner 8, Marney 8, Ashbee 7, Boateng 7 (Hughes), Geovanni 7 (Halmosi), King 6, Cousin 7 (Garcia).