BCFC v Hull Joys and Sorrows Match Preview

Breaching the Hull…There’s No Hullternative?
by Russell Dempsey

This article will appear in Saturday’s ‘Made in Brum‘ fanzine, priced £1.50 and available from sellers around the ground.

After we thought things were looking better, with back-to-back 3-1 wins against Sunderland and Sheffield Wednesday, we looked destined for relegation under Steve Cotterill, but the Board acted decisively and sacked him. Monk was brought in amongst great fanfare and Cotterill was ushered out of the back door…this sacking was sponsored by Snatchpac (TM)… and with him came his backroom staff, including Pep Clotet, his assistant manager, James Beattie, first team coach, Darryl Flahavan, goalkeeping coach, Sean Rush, Head of Performance and Ryan Needs, ‘Head of Analysis’…Beattie himself has been on Blues TV talking about how his remit is for the whole team, but that he may be instinctively drawn towards helping the strikers. Can’t see that being a negative myself. It may even be that it’s begun to work…two goals against Cardiff certainly aren’t to be sniffed at, consolations or not.  More on that later…

It’s difficult to say whether midweek results, overall, were positive or negative. We’re still in third from bottom spot, which is obviously better than dropping down the table, but Barnsley got a point against Norwich so are now a further point ahead of us, which is bad…especially with their superior goal difference…but they had been ahead in the game, so it could have been worse! Hull got a major filip in beating Ipswich 3-0 away from home, which won’t ‘bode well’ for today’s game, but may well provide us with more hope when we face Ipswich ourselves soon (31st March)…Burton lost, keeping them in their place as they could have overtaken us, and Reading lost too. I guess you have to face facts; whilst it’s not a good thing to rely on other teams’ performances, we have to do just that for a while, as we could win our next few matches and still be in the relegation zone unless those around us lose theirs…our match away at Bolton is the next time ‘bottom clubs’ meet each other, so we could do well to keep an eye on their fixtures, including their fixture against the Vile on Saturday. Next up is us again, at home to Burton, which will be critical for both teams, you’d suspect. Let’s hope our Cup win holds us in good stead, as they still hold their 100% league record over us. 10th April, Burton play Hull, which may be irrelevant if Hull beat us at the weekend, but if we do beat them, it could be we’re hoping Burton can beat them, or maybe a draw to keep both of them lower in the table…14th April there’s Barnsley against Bolton, which could be vital to our chances, depending on who’s in easiest reach by then…the same day you would suspect Sunderland or Burton will relegate one or the other (or each other)…on the 28th, Burton are at home to Barnsley, and on the last day of the season, if it’s all to play for, we have to perform at home against currently in-form Fulham, Burton are away to Preston, Sunderland are home to Champions-elect Wolves, Barnsley are away to play-off hopefuls Derby and Bolton are at home to resurgent Notts Forest. Not hard to see why the pundits are split. Martin O’Connor on Radio WM had us at 70% likely to survive this season tonight whilst the presenter reckoned it was more like 40%. I’d go with 50/50, we will or we won’t. In all fairness, we’re in the drop zone as we speak, and matters aren’t really in our own hands, so you can see where the 40% came from. The 70% is more hope than expectation, but hope springs eternal in Small Heath.

Hull come to town, off the back of the afore-mentioned 3-0 away win over Ipswich, and 4-3 home win over Norwich, having also beaten Sheffield United at home in February, so won’t really fear us. They sit nine points clear of us and five places ahead. A win for us could claw them back into the mix, whereas a draw or a win for them would see them feeling relatively safe and sinking us further into the mire…They beat us 6-1 in the reverse fixture at the KCOM. Goals rained in from Campbell, Meyler, Bowen, Grosicki, Henriksen and Larsson…and Sam Gallagher got our consolation at the death. 1500 hardy souls had to witness that shower, so hopefully today will put a few demons to rest…

If you’re looking for ex-Blues players to score against us, as well as Seb Larsson, then there’s Jon Toral to look out for, much lauded yet only good enough for Hull…who beat us 6-1…I know, I have to be careful which team I insult eh? Jarrod Bowen has 13 goals against other teams to his name this season, Grosicki 5 others and Hernandez – who scored zero against us in the away fixture is their third highest scorer on 6 goals, and is available for selection after being rested for the Ipswich fixture…

Monk’s tenure has hardly started with a bang, but I can say here and now I felt we were unlucky against Middlesbrough. There were huge positives to take from the performance, though I stop just short of saying we deserved to win. We COULD have won it, and we DID deserve a point. A defeat WAS unlucky…as for the loss to Cardiff, what can you say when you’re 3-0 down at half time? Even to the team second in the table? The fact is, we have to stop leaking goals. Against every team. Look how well we performed against Premier League Huddersfield. There’s no more excuses. We have to shut up shop at the back, and start converting more of our chances…which is where those Cardiff consolations should well come in handy…there were some deriding the squad for celebrating scoring our second when it appeared we’d still lose 3-2. If we’d lost 3-0, our goal difference could well be the thing sending us down, and a clean sheet for Cardiff was never going to look good for us. We’ve all been bemoaning our lack of firepower too, so to score a goal from open play and a goal from a set piece must have done our squad the world of good for their confidence. Against a team that are currently holding Villa at two arms’ lengths for the last automatic promotion spot, and may even provide a late charge for Champions as Wolves have stuttered a little of late. Regardless, our home games are our sensible ‘must-wins’ in the Monk regime. Let’s start with the Tigers.

I’m going to predict a 3-1 win for Blues, as I can’t quite picture a clean sheet or a 6-1 revenge win, goals from Juke, Gallagher and Adams. I think Kuszczak may well get the nod to try to inject a little stability into the backline, and Davis is in line for a recall, perhaps off the bench as he returns to fitness…

Win and we are still in the relegation zone; but we can hope Barnsley lose to bring them into catching distance. A loss could see us sucked back to the foot of the table…That’s got to provide the motivation in the dressing room. They can’t hide behind Cotterill any more. Or Zola, or Redknapp, or even the jettisoned Carsley…

Enjoy the Match and Keep Right On.

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