It is 42 years since Hull City last beat Blues at St Andrews; I was there! There are a lot of parallels with what we are enduring at the present time; as at the end of the sixties we had thrashed Hull 6-2 in 1968 and again in 1969 we hammered them 5-2. Then, in 1970, we suffered a 2-4 reverse and you knew we were in trouble. We were dire that year just before our resurgence under Freddie Goodwin and promotion to the top flight with legends such as Francis, Latchford, Hatton, ‘Ticker’ Taylor etc. Hull are – and have always been – an average second division side at best and they serve as a barometer for where we find ourselves, and that is I’m afraid, not very good. Having said that, Birmingham did not play badly yesterday; in fact it was a pretty decent performance despite the result but you simply cannot keep shipping three goal starts like we did yesterday, and like we did at Millwall, and expect to get anything from games.
Sone Aluko, one of our ex-Academy players whom we released to Aberdeen because we didn’t believe him good enough, returned to haunt us and we failed to heed the message as early as the sixth minute when he was put clean through our slumbering back line. He should have scored but Jack Butland rescued us with a fine save with his legs. Robert Koren put the boy through again after 14 minutes and this time he rounded Butland and rolled the ball into the empty net. I try not to complain about individual refereeing decisions too much since it is generally what you do over the whole piece that dictates the outcome of the match but this was a turning point for me. The pass to Aluko was at least two yards offside and Chris, Little Jack and I were dead in line of the incident. The officials were all absolutely hopeless all afternoon and this was the start of one of the poorest officiating performances since Southend came to our place about 5 years ago. The linesman on the Kop side had his flag in his bum and his mind in neutral as he allowed the Hull striker to saunter through for 1-0.
Blues now started chasing the game instead of clearing their heads and with our full backs pushing on, Jay Simpson pushed a good ball through as Hull broke quickly and caught Caldwell ball watching. Aluko ran across him and beat the onrushing Bultland from twelve yards. It was 2-0 and only 26 minutes on the clock. It got worse when poor defending from a corner allowed James Chester an easy free header from Aluko’s corner kick. The header was emphatic, the score line an unrealistic reflection of the play but failure to apply the basics to football costs goals. Three-nil to Hull and they hadn’t had to work for their goals; the natives were restless. Nevertheless the fans stayed with them after a chorus of “what the f***ing hell is this?” and “you’re not fit to wear the shirt!” and on 38 minutes Ravel Morrison reduced the arrears. Jonathan Spector crossed from the right to Nikola Zigic who won nearly everything in the air all afternoon. The big striker nodded down to Morrision whose waist high volley flew past Amos for a cracking strike. Hull weren’t looking quite so clever at this stage as Blues piled on the pressure before half time. Just before the break Abdoulaye Faye clearly handled a cross destined for Zigic’s head. I cannot for the life of me understand why it is that over 17,000 souls in the ground see the incident as clear as day and yet the bloke who is meant to be in charge of the game can miss it. Penalty awards are a matter of opinion of course and some are clearer cut than others but this one was blatant. 2-3 at this stage and I fancy Blues would have won this match. As it was we all trooped disconsolately towards the refreshment areas.
I met up with my mate, Andy and his three boys, two of whom play for Blues’ Academy sides, along with Chris and Little Jack. Following the usual half-time banter and personal takes on the action so far we finished our cuppas and headed back towards our seats for the second half. Little Jack decided at the last second that he needed the loo and Chris and I waited for him. We heard a loud roar and racing back to the arena discovered that Marlon King had scored. Apparently, straight from the kick off, Murphy launched a long ball to Zigic who for the umpteenth time won the header. He directed it down to King who took a touch, swivelled and shot past Amos; 2-3 and game on!
Unfortunately, despite continual dominance and pressure from Blues, the ever deepening Hull rearguard which included another old boy, Alex Bruce, defended resolutely and somehow the ball just wouldn’t drop for Blues and Hull hung on for their victory for which Blues have only themselves to blame. All three Hull goals were gifts whereas Blues had to work hard for theirs and that my friends, is the fundamental difference in the end. As I said earlier, I don’t think Birmingham played badly overall. They defended in the first half an hour like a pub team but that has been an ongoing trait all season. Butland couldn’t be blamed for any of the goals. The defence were solid enough after the first period but it was too late by then. Spector and Murphy got forward and contributed to the attacking threat but some of the deliveries could be better. Ravel Morrison has the makings of a hell of a player and with new owners I would buy him if funds allow it. Mullins was better than of late but I still don’t think he contributes enough and he still concedes possession too easily for my liking. Chris Burke is looking back to his best and was a handful for the Hull full back all afternoon. Wade Elliot is mainly responsible for the second Hull goal, giving the ball away with Murphy pushed up and that allowed space behind us for Aluko to run into. We desperately need a proper left winger to provide balance on that side. Another area of strengthening in January methinks. Zigic had a good game I thought but we needed that little bit of luck with his frequent knockdowns. It always seemed to drop for a Hull defender somehow. King ran his socks off and by all accounts took his goal well.
It does seem such a pity that in a Championship where there are no outstanding teams and all are of pretty average ability that Blues choose this season to play poorly and ship goals that we would not have dreamed of conceding last year. As for Hull, they are a well organised, hard-working outfit a little bit above average for the level but I don’t see them in the top six come May, though they have a chance if their key players stay fit. There are better teams than them in the Championship but sadly Birmingham City are not among them. I repeat, we have to get to the end of the season as comfortably as we can, hiding our blushes along the way and trying not to get too embarrassed too often. Read my words if not my lips; we are not promotion material; we are not good enough, as proven by a hardworking but limited Hull City side yesterday.
The Good; The general performance of the team and the part played by both sides to provide an entertaining game even if the result was not to the home fans’ liking.
The Bad: Our defending again. The match officials; they were absolutely dire.
The Ugly: Our prospects going forwards if a new owner is not acquired and some funds are not found.
Birmingham City: Jack Butland 6, Jonathan Spector 6, Steven Caldwell 5, Paul Robinson 5, David Murphy 6 (Mitch Hancox, 85, N/A), Chris Burke 7, Hayden Mullins 6, Ravel Morrison 9, Wade Elliott 6 (Nathan Redmond, 65, 6), Nikola Zigic 8, Marlon King 7.
Subs not used: Colin Doyle, Pablo Ibanez, Papa Bouba Diop, Darren Ambrose, Peter Lovenkrands.
Bookings: Zigic (58)
Goals: Morrison (38), King (46).
Hull City: Ben Amos 6, Liam Rosenior 6 (Robbie Brady, 70, 6), James Chester 7, Robert Koren 8, Jay Simpson 7 (Aaron McLean, 76, 6), Seyi Olofinjana 6 (David Meyler, 63, 6), Abdoulaye Faye 6, Sone Aluko 9, Ahmed Elmohamady 7, Alex Bruce 7, Stephen Quinn 7.
Subs not used: Eldin Jakupovic, Paul McKenna, Corry Evans, Nick Proschwitz.
Bookings: David Meyler (94)
Goals: Aluko (14, 26), Chester (32).
Referee: Mick Russell 3: The Referee had an absolute mare, aided and abetted by two of the most inept Assistants I’ve seen in ages. They missed the clear offside for the first Hull goal, an obvious penalty just before half-time for handball which everyone saw except the officials and it is arguable that Blues could have had another penalty awarded for shirt pulling and a blatant push on Zigic. Dreadful performance by the men in black I’m afraid but they only contributed to the defeat they weren’t the cause of it; you have to look to Blues’ shortcomings for that.
Attendance: 17, 363 (1,244 Hull fans)
Bazza KRO SOTV