Saturday, 29 December 2012

Away Days: Hull City

Even the world's greatest journalists find it difficult to transform the worst matches into elegantly transcribed pieces of writing and this, combined with a lack of time, formed the reasoning behind me not writing a match report of the Nottingham Forest game on Boxing Day. Therefore, having also not attended any matches since September due to being at university, I promised myself I'd produce a write-up after the trip to the KC Stadium. If only I'd have known just what I had to write about.

Despite a poor performance on Boxing Day, I still woke up on Saturday looking forward to the match, hoping rather than expecting that we could steal something. Kez was driving, which meant for once we could control what time we set off and therefore, for once, we set off on time. Hull is just under an hour away from mine and so with plenty of time on our hands we stopped almost immediately at Ferrybridge services. Kez had helped himself to some toast beforehand and was clearly still hungry. I hadn't eaten anything as I couldn't be arsed and was therefore hungry myself. Upon leaving the services, we'd almost spent up our student loans, Kez in particularly who was robbed just under £8 for a sandwich, a packet of crisps and a bottle of water.

The weather was nothing short of ridiculous and with me in control, the sound-track shifted from Westlife to the Vaccines, ensuring that the rest of the journey was tough but entertaining nonetheless. We arrived at 11.30, and parked in one of the club car parks, completely ignoring the supervisor who whispered a command that he expected us to understand. Somehow, the inside of Kez's boot, was piss wet through and as the boot contained our coats,we were piss wet through before we stepped foot outside. Hull was just as bad as I had remembered it last year. A shit-hole. At least last year the game was on a Tuesday night and we couldn't see much of it.

I'm afraid that's where the excitement ends. Warnock's team selection was a strange one and did nothing to improve the non-existence optimism felt in the away end. Despite a bright-ish start, Leeds were again awful, with Hull looking dangerous every time they crossed the half way line. Their attacking four of El Mohamady, Koren, Brady and Aluko, in particular the latter were on fine form and Leeds rode their luck with a number of crosses fizzing through the penalty area unharmed. The only thing worse than Leeds was the referee; many times in favour of ourselves. I've always commented on football rather fairly and I thought we were extremely lucky to have not conceded an early penalty with referee Eltringham turning down two valid shouts from the home side. Perhaps even luckier was Leeds winger Aidy White, who was only shown a yellow card after what looked a fairly shocking tackle on Ahmed El-Mohamady. What followed however was diabolical refereeing and nearly gave the home side the first goal. Without being waved back onto the pitch, El Mohamady, who had gone off to receive treatment, rejoined play and picked up the ball straight away. After a weaving run, he sent in a low cross which could and should have given Hull the first goal. Had it gone in, I'd have feared for the referee Eltringham's safety, but it thankfully went wide.

That was about it for the first half; Hull looking by far the better side, Leeds looking like relegation candidates. But nothing to worry about; Warnock had his trump card to play at half-time. Bring on Luke Varney. Oh.

As expected, this inspirational substitution achieved nothing and after forcing Kenny into a good save low down to his right, it was Hull who took the lead. Superb hold-up play from the outstanding Aluko resulted in Corry Evans being slipped in down the right and the midfielder finished well into the far bottom corner. A good goal, yes, but it was also far too easy.

Its possible that every Leeds fan in the KC knew that the game was now over; Leeds had never looked like scoring and would surely look less like scoring now they were behind. Any Leeds fan that still believed didn't believe two minutes later as David Meyler rose well to head Hull 2-0 in front from a corner. And that was that. In fact it wasn't. By the time the full-time whistle blew, Leeds had been embarrassed by a Hull side that played out the last twenty minutes as a training match. Two-nil could even be considered flattering; Steve Bruce was said to be disappointed with the way his side took their foot off the gas and he probably has reason to be. It could quite easily have been five or six.

It's hard to think of a Leeds player that came out with any credit. Ross McCormack worked hard with little support, as did Paul Green who most Leeds fans have a lot of time for. Aidy White was alright for Aidy White and that was about it. Michael Brown was awful, Alan Tate continued his run of poor games and Davide Somma looked rusty. I can't blame Somma though, most players would struggle to shine when attempting to win a number of long-balls against what looked like twenty foot of Hull City centre half. Tactically, manager Neil Warnock got everything wrong for me today, including the team selection.

Although Leeds were frankly embarrassing, credit has to be given to Hull City who, as the league table suggests, are one of the best sides I've seen this year. The back three of Hobbs, Faye and the always impressive James Chester are solid, the midfield does the simple tasks well and their forward play is exciting to watch. Despite the fan's poll crediting Corry Evans as man of the match, my vote would have gone to Aluko who was simply outstanding. He was at the centre of every move Hull put together and tore the Leeds defence into pieces all afternoon.

The reactions of the travelling support after the match said it all with a mixture of boos, abusive gestures and chants of "what the fucking hell was that?" greeting the Leeds players as they trudged off. I hope for their sake that they got home quicker than we did; the hour long wait in the club car park after the game did nothing to improve our moods.

I'm only nineteen but I found out at a young age that supporting Leeds United isn't an easy thing to do. I've seen some disappointing things connected with the club, but I think today tops them all. I've seen us lose to Walsall and Histon. I've seen us concede five at home to Blackpool and four at home to Cardiff. But I've never seen anything as bad as I did today. We're not quite Aston Villa and we're maybe not quite Wolves or Blackburn yet. But we're heading that way.