Hull City 1-3 Liverpool

Last updated : 13 May 2009 By Rick Skelton
Five games to go and the Tigers took on the mighty Liverpool at the KC
Stadium in a game few fans fancied them to win. The opposition,
chasing a first English league title in nineteen years have put four
goals past Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Real Madrid in the
past 6 weeks or so. However, far from being overawed, the city players
put on a top class performance and ran the visitors mighty close.

Phil Brown picked a flexible 4-5-1 formation. Kilbane replaced the
injured Dawson at left back, Barmby came back in, playing between
midfield and attack and Caleb Folan deservedly replaced Manucho as the
spearhead. He'd have a mixed afternoon. If there was ever any doubt
that Phil Brown should be the manager of Hull City, today should put
an end to it. The team he put out was perfect, mirroring Liverpool. We
sat back at the right times, refusing to leave space for Kuyt and
Benayoun to exploit. When Alonso picked up the ball in his quarter
back role just inside their half, Turner and Zayatte dropped off 5
yards to ensure that Torres couldn't get in behind them. The system
was flexible as we saw Barmby and Geovanni switched at times and Fagan
and Geo switch flanks at others. It also had players in good area's
who'd work for each other. When Geo put pressure on them, Barmby
slipped into his role. When Fagan chased them down, olan dropped into
his role. As a result, we easily matched them for 44 minutes,
threatening to break through at times. Benayoun saw a clever early
effort drop just over the bar and Bo denied Torres with an outstanding
save from a set piece but otherwise, Liverpool had plenty of the ball
but couldn't break through the terrific Tigers rearguard. We could
easily have taken the lead too as we worked some terrific positions in
behind them, particularly on the right where Sam Ricketts showed his
terrific engine and a lovely first touch to dumbfound Insua twice. He
put in two lovely crosses plus another beauty from a deeper area.
Folan failed to attack the best cross, hanging at the back post hoping
for Skertal to miss it. Barmby stepped over the other two, looking to
fool the defence. Both were poor decisions, it was never really on and
he was in the best position to take the ball down and have a go at
goal. Folan broke through their defence but hung on to the ball too
long when he should have had a go for goal. Three terrific corners
from Geo caused problems. The first was headed away with Turner
lurking, the second flicked on by Marney but booted away before Barmby
could pounce and the third halted by a generous foul being awarded to
the goalkeeper. Turner and Zayatte marshalled Torres as well as anyone
has in 2 seasons, Boateng and Marney were terrific off the ball and
all 4 front players put great pressure on the ball. Unfortunately, our
terrific first half was rendered meaningless 30 seconds before the
break. Liverpool broke away and Mascherano cleverly turned Ricketts
before throwing himself to the ground with Boateng in the vicinity.
The referee, the utterly appalling and biased Martin Atkinson, bought
it as he had everytime someone breathed near a man in red. Alonso, who
was absolutely garbage throughout, hit a terrible free-kick at the
wall, but as it broke to attack the ball, Alonso reacted quickest to
hammer a volley past the unsighted Myhill. It was an undeserved sucker

City came out fighting in the second half, despite the previously
buoyant KC crowd having been silenced by the Spanish-scouse strike.
They continued to put a lot of pressure on Liverpool, chasing down
every back pass. Reina had been awful, kicking here there and
everywhere but rarely with any authority. It was from a back pass that
the game swung further their way. Folan chased down the goalkeeper,
eager to force more pressure on him as he'd been terrible. Martin
Skertal ran right across his path, a definite obstruction in the olden
days, and Folan appeared to drag him back. He was amazingly shown a
straight red card. It was amazing at the time, anyway. No-one in the
home crowd saw any offence, only the Liverpool defender, a diving
cheat like his mates, hit the deck and feign pain for 5 minutes. He
home crowd was livid, as was I. However, on the radio on the way home,
I heard Folan admit that he'd kicked out in frustration and deserved
to go. He did deny catching the defender with any force, suggesting
that the cheat had made a meal of it. That much was obvious. For five
minutes, we went to pieces. Fagan was booked for a late (and very
deliberate) tackle on Skertal and we defended a corner poorly, leading
to Kuyt heading in a second goal. Following the goal, we regained our
composure quickly. Cousin and Mendy replaced Barmby and Fagan and we
settled into a 4-4-1 system. In the stands, we feared the worst. The
last thing we needed was a hammering, especially after such a
promising performance. Anyone who doubts the fight in this group of
players was to be disappointed though. A terrific long ball from Mendy
found Cousin who pulled out on to the left wing, easily skipped past
Skertal and slid the ball across goal for Geo to score. It was
Liverpool's turn to go to pieces. Browny, as brave as ever, chucked
Manucho on for the Boateng, who was running on empty. We went for
them, we got the ball forward quickly, we defended superbly and we
battled for the ball in the middle. Liverpool were hoofing the ball
clear, panicking at the back and lost all composure in the middle and
the awful Reina dropped two crosses. For 10 minutes, we had them on
the rack. We couldn't quite create the right shooting opportunity,
despite our efforts. With time running out, Arbeloa attacked down the
right, Kilbane, who'd ran 50 yards to support forward and then the
same again to get back, couldn't get close enough to him and he was
allowed to shoot. The shot was deflected and brilliantly saved by Bo,
but fell kindly for Kuyt to tap in. 3-1 was harsh but it was a
terrific finish, with a rousing chorus of "We love you City, we do"
rising from the East Stand. Our warriors had nothing to be ashamed of
today and we let them know.

Myhill was terrific in goal. He made two superb saves and kicked well.
Considering we were playing against the second best team in the
country who've had those remarkable results of late, he didn't
actually have much to do. When Liverpool created openings in the
second half, they generally hit the crowd. Ricketts had his best game
in a City shirt. He was outstanding. His work going forward down the
right wing in the first half was of a very high standard. He showed
great pace, terrific touch and a lovely final ball in. Kilbane was
very sold at left back, never flustered, cleared well, tackled well
and competed in the air. For a former winger, he didn't get into any
decent forward position but defended well. Turner was back to his
terrific best and Zayatte, who gets better the long his hair grows,
had his finest game for a while. Despite the threat of that Torres
bloke and the movement of Benayoun and Kuyt, they were rarely
distracted from the task, never panicked and read the game superbly.
He only black mark for them was the second goal, which was an awful
one to concede and showed up a collective lack of concentration from
the whole team. Zayatte had the nerve to dribble across our box
beating three Liverpool forwards in the first half. It was an
incredibly cool bit of defending that had his team mates and every
City fan watching through their fingers.

Midfield was well set-up and took advantage of Boateng's guts and
experience, Marney's engine, Geo's skill, Fagan's work-rate and
Barmby's cool head and absolute refusal to give up on any situation.
Boateng was magnificent again, throwing himself into every challenge,
using the ball well and giving inspiration to everyone around him.
Marney was brilliant off the ball and worked his socks off. When he
picked the ball up with space to run into, he did it well but his
final pass or shot was generally poor. He did put in one terrific
cross in the first half that cleared Folan's head and should probably
have been headed in by Barmy. Geo did a great job out wide. He was
well covered on the ball but off it, he worked better than he has all
season and probably broke his lifetime record for tackles made. He
finished the game in some sort of holding midfield role and was still
brilliant. He would be even better if he could find a pair of boots
with studs on. Fagan was a nuisance as usual but generally a bystander
when we attacked. Barmby had a fine game as he generally does. His
quality is just incredible and he got around the pitch incredibly
well, turning up all over the pitch. In this system, with a front man
who's capable of holding the ball up, he's terrific. His interchange
with Geo provides a different threat from time to time and will unlock
poorer defences. Mendy made a good impact from the bench and was
excellent but not before he'd been caught offside in the most
ridiculous position from a 70 yard free-kick.

He decision to play Folan was the right one, based on his impact at
Sunderland last week and for an hour, it was vindicated. He was
terrific, he competed in the air, he held onto the ball confidently,
didn't make rash decisions and did a super job of simply getting
himself onto the ball and laying it off to onrushing players. He then
ruined all that with the stupid sending off which probably ends his
Hull City career. Phil Brown was not amused. Fortunately for our
cause, Dan Cousin returned as substitute and was equally impressive
but with added strength, a bigger desire to get into the 6 yard box
and a final pass. Welcome back big man, we've missed you. Manucho ran
around and stuff for the last 10 minutes. I'm not sure he actually
touched the ball. At least he didn't boot the ball into row Z this

He result was tough to take considering the amount we put into the
game. That performance though, was absolutely terrific and should
provide a real shot of confidence to the team and the fans for the
last 4 games. If we play that well in the next three games, I think
we'll be home and dry before the visit of the champions elect on May
24th. As for Liverpool, they were rubbish. They displayed Rafa
Benitez's wonderful brand of anti-football, moaned, whined, dived,
rolled around despite their being no contact and wrapped the pathetic
referee around their famous little fingers. I'm only surprised he
didn't kiss them better when they fell over. It's a pity we didn't
grab the fourth goal of the game, we'd certainly have deserved it. He
way we rattled them with ten men was superb. We'll get no credit from
the sour opposition manager or the lazy pundits on the telly but so
what. Stuff them.

Top marks to Phil Brown today. He's taken some pretty unfair criticism
from plenty of quarters recently but he got everything spot on today.
Hopefully he'll go on TV tonight and moan about the referee again. Mr.
Atkinson was awful and we've not had a decent decision go our way
since December. Why shouldn't he stand up and make that bloody clear?

The one thing that stood out for me today is how little I care about
relegation. It's been great playing the big teams and seeing some
wonderful footballers but at the end of the day (or at 3pm on a
Saturday afternoon), I don't care who the opposition is, only that I'm
standing and watching Hull City. I've definitely had enough of
cheating, moaning, spitting, spoilt, immoral playboys to last me a
lifetime. If we do stay up though, I'll enjoy watching Ash kick them
for another season.

Ratings: Myhill 8, Ricketts 9, Kilbane 8, Turner 8, Zayatte 8, Fagan 6
(Mendy 7), Geovanni 8, Boateng 9 (Manucho), Marney 7, Barmby 8 (Cousin
8), Folan 8.

(Apologies for any errors in this report, my keyboard is part-broken!)