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Match Preview - Hull City Vs U's
Match Preview - Hull City Vs U's
Friday, 15th Feb 2008 11:59

Graeson looks ahead to Saturday's trip to Hull City which sees two JJ's do battle in United's Johnnie Jackson and the Tigers' Jay-Jay Okacha.

Buoyed by Tuesday night's win over Preston, United will travel to Humberside this weekend looking for the win that might, just might take them out of the bottom three. However, former U's man Wayne Brown will be leading a Hull City defence which is looking to push on towards the play-offs.

Phil Brown, who took over the managerial hot-seat following the departure of former U's boss Phil Parkinson, has got his side up to 9th place in the table, two points off the last play-off place currently occupied by A12 rivals Ipswich Town.

The Tigers home record is pretty good with eight wins, five draws and just three defeats so far at The KC Stadium. They've scored 27 goals in those sixteen home games and conceded just sixteen.

One of those home defeats came at the start of the season when they lost a five goal thriller to Plymouth Argyle with Ian Holloway's men coming back from a goal down on two occasions before Ebanks-Blake scored the winner with nine minutes remaining.

Former U's striker Chris Iwelumo got one over his former Layer Road team-mates at The KC Stadium - Richard Garcia is also there - as The Addicks won 2-1 with Iwelumo scoring in the 89th minutes before Stephen McPhee reduced the arrears in injury time. Their last home defeat was a comprehensive one shown on Sky Sports when West Brom were the visitors in January. Kevin Phillips put The Baggies one up after just a couple of minutes after some suspect defending before the visitors broke quickly to double the lead through Morrison on 32 minutes. Richard Garcia scored the goal of the game nineteen minutes from time with a strike reminiscent of his effort at Crystal Palace last season but Bednar secured the points for Tony Mowbray's men.

Since New Year's Day, Hull went out of the FA Cup at Plymouth with an under strength side which was shown up a month later when the full strength side won by a single goal against the same opponents with veteran striker Dean Windass grabbing the lead seconds before the break.

At home, after wins over Wolves and Sheffield Wednesday over Christmas, and after the Baggies defeat, they then beat Coventry thanks to substitute Caleb Folan's last minute goal. Their last home game saw the share four goals with Blackpool but they did come back from two down after Paul Dickov's brace just after halftime. On Tuesday night, they came back from a goal down at Carrow Road with on-loan Manchester United star Frazer Campbell cancelling out Dion Dublin's looping header which caught Boaz Myhill off his line.

Sadly, it looks as though Richard Garcia will not be appearing against his former side on Saturday due to family reasons which has seen him return to his native Perth - he was, of course, a team-mate of Chris Coyne back in Australia too. With Hull also likely to be missing Dean Windass through injury one might suspect that the U's should have a great chance of getting something from the game however, United's visit to Humberside is likely to coincide with the home re-appearance of former Bolton player Jay-Jay Okacha who really does have the skills to pay the bills. The Nigerian International with 59 goals to his name, he really could destroy the U's on his own if given his chance so it’s vital that the U's right-hand side shackle the former Paris St Germain man.

This will be the first meeting of the teams this season after the Layer Road clash was postponed at short notice in January. However, the U's have a pretty decent record at Hull's KC Stadium with a win, a draw and a defeat in their three previous visits there. Last season, Jamie Cureton's second half goal cancelled out Nicky Forster's first half effort as United's play-off push gained even more momentum.

The two sides also met twice at the start of 2005. Goals from Craig Fagan - who would later sign for Hull City - and Gareth Williams saw United knock Hull out of the FA Cup at the 3rd Round, but the U's were to fall to a League defeat a month later with Leon Cort and Nicky Barmby the scorers.

It seems remarkable that on Saturday, Hull City will expect somewhere in the region of 15,000 to attend the game. That is comparable - and shows what a new stadium can for you - when you compare it to the last time United won at Boothferry Park of 15h April 1997. Steve Wignall's men scored twice in the first half through Tony Adcock and Mark Sale in front of just 2,035 after Duane Darby had given Hull a 19th minute lead.

The complete U's side that day was Carl Emberson, Joe Dunne, Scott Stamps, David Gregory, David Greene, Peter Cawley, Paul Buckle, Steve Whitton, Tony Adcock (Tony Lock 85), and Paul Abrahams (Chris Fry 81) with Steve Forbes the unused sub. The Tigers side was Steve Wilson, Simon Trevitt, Greg Rioch, Antonio Doncel-Varcarcel (Neil Mann 79), Tony Brien, Ian Wright (Mike Greaves 71), Warren Joyce, Gavin Gordon (Paul Fewings 31), Duane Darby (Sent Off 49), Mike Quigley, and Richard Peacock.

Graeson's Team

It appears that Kevin Lisbie's injury that kept him out of Tuesday's game against Preston will also keep him out of Saturday's trip to Humberside. That's a shame as without him, the U's just lack that bit of pace which frightens most defenders and would surely worry Wayne Brown who was never the quickest centre half in the world! I do hope that Geraint Williams has, by now, seen enough of Scott Vernon to give the former Burnley striker his first start in place of Teddy Sheringham. Vernon has looked very lively in his substitute cameos and, his arrival on Tuesday night was the catalyst for the U's success.

In midfield, a lot will depend on the fitness of Dean Hammond - the club's £250k deadline day signing who is still to make his U's debut due to suspension and injury. If he has recovered from what I believe was a slight calf strain, I'd expect to see him go in to midfield alongside Izzet with Jackson moving to the left wing. Over on the other wing, Duguid and Ifil must contain the dangerous Okacha if the U's are to get something from this fixture.

Aside from that, it’s as you were on Tuesday evening with Gerken in goal, John White, Phil Ifil, Chris Coyne and the ever-improving Adam Virgo at the heart of the U's defence. Midfield will be Kem Izzet, Karl Duguid, Johnnie Jackson and either Dean Hammond or Kevin McLeod - though Kevin Watson and Luke Guttridge will also be hopeful of seeing their name in the starting line-up. Finally, Scott Vernon will partner the hard-working Clive Platt up front. We know that Wayne Brown can be bullied into having a bad game - see QPR last New Years Day for evidence of that - so it will be down to Platt to make sure the former Ipswich man knows he's been in a tough game.

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Graeson's Prediction

Like anyone else, I'd snap your hands off right now for a point at The KC Stadium. They do have some decent players going forward - most notably Okacha, and the quick Frazer Campbell on loan from Man Utd - but they will also miss Dean Windass who, despite his advancing years, is still a major player for them.

Will his absence be enough to get the U's a point? If they work hard, nullify the Okacha affect, then yes, I think they can thanks to a one all draw with Vernon grabbing that important equaliser with ten minutes left on the clock.

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Photo: Action Images

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