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Late Hull show wins dire match
Late Hull show wins dire match
Saturday, 13th Jan 2007 20:33

QPR suffered a morale sapping 2-1 defeat at the KC Stadium against relegation rivals Hull on Saturday.

Sitting in the traffic on the way home after this was certainly not a moment I'll look back on with any great fondness. I've sat in that queue to get onto the flyover roundabout a hundred times or more before wearing a hooped shirt with pride - sadly for readers of this site that hoped shirt had black instead of blue, and three crowns instead of three letters, and that team has some idea of how to out battle, out fight, out think and out score opposing teams. This evening I was doing all I could to hide my colours.

There can't be many teams in any league around the world that could, apparently without really batting an eyelid, go away to a relegation rival and take the lead, hold it until four minutes from time, and escape without even a point. QPR are just one of those sides - when it comes down to the crunch of it you can always visualise our players with a blue WKD in their hand more than you can them digging in and fighting it out. Yes they're young and inexperienced, mostly, and the club's skint and Gregory's trying to build his own side and all the rest of it - but that second half was unbelievably bad. What was said at half time? What was the big idea?

Eighteen months ago a gang of QPR fans apparently did a bit of a number on a Hull Train taking them back from this fixture. Today Hull Trains saw their way to offering no service between Hull and London. Fans were left with a tempting seven hour each way, £42 train journey involving three changes and a bus if they fancied coming up by rail. Any that did make it found that Hull Trains had found the money and time to sponsor the match - nothing like getting your priorities in order. Still maybe this was their way of saying thanks for the Rangers' fans behaviour last time.

Three months ago QPR barely slipped out of third gear and still beat Hull comfortably at Loftus Road. Perhaps today was Hull's way of giving QPR a less than friendly nudge and showing exactly what they're all about. They looked like they really wanted this.

Revenge was in the air.

QPR didn't like it much and turned in a second half performance that mystified the few that did make the trip in their support. Goals in the 86th and the 90th minute make it look like Rangers were unlucky, like they were sucker punched. They weren't, it had been coming, Hull deserved it. That John Gregory has since said he couldn't see them scoring and we were cruising is of some concern - they looked like scoring every time they came within thirty yards of our penalty area to me.

Gregory started the game with ten of the eleven players he'd started with against Luton in the cup. Ward was dropped from the squad altogether after his aberration against the Hatters and replaced by Bircham who went into the middle with Lomas, Smith and Cook were the wingers with Jones and Blackstock up top. Kanyuka, Mancienne, Stewart and Bignot started in defence ahead of Royce in goal.

QPR started the game quite well and were the better team in the opening exchanges. Bircham and Lomas took hold of the midfield, Cook and Smith looked lively, and Blackstock and Jones caused Hull problems. Lomas sent a long range effort high and wide, Marc Bircham had a dipping volley comfortably saved by Myhill and Ray Jones held on too long after breaking through in the penalty area and saw a shot blocked away for a corner.

At the far end of the ground Nick Barmby broke through once in the tenth minute and set up Parkin who fluffed his finish but all in all the initial signs were positive for the visitors.

QPR were on top and in command until the twentieth minute and then the game started to drift away from them. It started with Stephen McPhee hitting the net with Hull's first real sight of the goal. Barmby set the former Port Vale man up and he finished well but the flag was raised and the goal didn't count. To this point Hull had looked nervous and the crowd had been quiet, once they'd shut off the bizarre opera/dance music combo and man shouting "TIGERS, TIGERS" on the loud speaker, but this disallowed goal brought the team and the fans into the game.

Within a minute left back Andy Dawson found himself in an identical position to McPhee with the flag down but he fired wide where either of the strikers would surely have scored. McPhee had a half chance two minutes later when Stewart allowed a long punt down the field to bounce and then made a mess of a header back to Royce. McPhee nipped in and lobbed the keeper but the ball dropped wide.

The remaining fifteen minutes of the half would serve as a terrific video to send to the authorities who've cursed our game with all sorts of rules designed to turn football into a none contact sport for fear of somebody bleeding to death from a head wound - a regular occurrence before the rule that play should be stopped within three milliseconds of a head injury being suffered was brought in of course. The problems started when Bignot and one of the Hull players went down with injuries within a few minutes of each other. After the Hull injury Marc Bircham rather stupidly hooked the ball out for a throw in deep inside the Hull half rather than just giving it back to the keeper. After the Bignot injury Jon Parkin responded in kind and immaturity won the day.

Within seconds Pat Kanyuka brought the ball away down the right wing with acres in front of him but decided, under massive pressure from the home crowd, to put the ball out so a Hull man could have treatment. After the restart Ray Jones went down after a clash of heads with Delaney with the referee waving play on Hull refused to kick the ball out as Rangers had done before. Handbags, spat dummies, and arm waving all round. I'd have been rather ashamed to have brought a neutral spectator to all of this - what a bloody shambles.

The home crowd seemed to be accusing Bignot and Jones of play acting - the fact that Bignot had to be replaced by Timoska and Ray Jones spent the rest of the game in a new shirt with a massive bandage round his head apparently lost on them. The referee lost control in this spell and never regained it. It was just about the worst fifteen minutes of "football" it's ever been my misfortune to see. I say football, I can't imagine the ball was in play for more than ninety seconds of it.

Jon Parkin received a yellow card after a foul just before the break. This was certainly not the worst challenge of the half and led to players from both sides surrounding the referee after every decision thereafter asking why that wasn't a card when this one was. If there's one thing I love to see more than fifteen minutes of overpaid footballers arguing about who should kick the ball back to who after an injury it's those same footballers arguing that each other should be booked. For 23 quid, you can't beat it - actually you can, you could buy 23 bottles of water and drown yourself in a bucket.

As rigor mortis threatened to set in Rangers suddenly sprung from nowhere and bagged a goal against the run of play in the extensive period of stoppage time. Cook cut in from the left and made Ricketts look a complete amateur before hammering the ball into the near post where keeper Myhill spilled under pressure from Jones and Blackstock forced home the loose ball. Half time followed a half hearted Hull attack in response and it was that gut wrenching time of the day again where we all dip below decks and check how Barnsley, Southend and others are getting on.

Has my life really come to desperately seeking the latest score from Barnsley? I fear it has.

The second half started in much the same vein as the first had ended - injuries, stoppages, free kicks given that shouldn't have been, fouls allowed to play on. Ashbee and Livermore were both booked, the former harshly, the latter deservedly, but QPR players remained absent from the referee's book despite racking up the fouls. Mr Miller's inconsistency was astounding at times.

An advert for the Championship this certainly was not, I've been to better pub games. When the ball eventually made it into open play it found Nicky Forster, on to replace Nick Barmby at half time, who lashed into the side netting.

Moments later Forster seemed certain to score when a long cross field hoof was misjudged by Kanyuka and found the former Birmingham man totally by himself and ready to run for goal. Forster's first touch was right and set him for a finish but Kanyuka came across and hacked him down at thigh height on the edge of the area. There was no argument that it was a free kick on the edge and not a penalty but how a card was not produced I will never know. I'd have sent Kanyuka off, Forster was clearly through and would have scored in my opinion and Kanyuka's challenge was high, dangerous and cynical. Kanyuka wasn't even booked - incredible refereeing.

The only thing I can think of, and there might be some weight in this as I was watching the referee throughout waiting for the colour of the card, was that Kanyuka took himself off and stood in the penalty area with Mancienne, Jones, and Stewart. The referee turned round and seemed to be looking for the culprit but did nothing - all I can think is he wasn't sure of picking the right man from the line up.

The referee knew he'd made a mess of things as well. QPR went for the remaining 32 minutes and stoppage time without getting a decision from the man in the middle - after an eccentric and QPR biased display for the first hour the business end of the match saw every single decision go Hull's way. Blackstock, Lomas and Cook all saw yellow for minor offences compared to what had gone before.

From the free kick former Rangers' loanee Dean Marney hit the ball low into the area and off the inside of the post via a Rangers boot, possibly Kanyuka's. The rebound seemed certain to fall to a Hull man but incredibly Mancienne had five yards of space in which to execute a desperate clearance.

Despite this Rangers looked set for a bit of a smash and grab raid. They weren't comfortable, and they were second best all over the place but with Bircham and Lomas in front of the back four they seemed to be coping. It seemed bizarre therefore that Gregory's second substitution of the game saw Marc Bircham removed. Even more perplexing was that he was replaced by Shabazz Baidoo while Stefan Bailey remained seated on the bench.

I will never understand this - you can talk to me all you want about Bircham's fitness, I'd love to know what the man himself thought about being taken off. He could have played for half an hour more and had three days off this week - however unfit he might have been (there can be no other reason to take him off) he'd have been better on one leg than the midfield that followed his departure.

Baidoo went to the right wing and never saw the ball. Smith went into the middle and suddenly Hull started to run riot.

With 20 minutes to go Royce denied Forster and then from the resulting corner Turner headed against the cross bar and the ball was again hacked down the field. That was the problem, when Rangers got the ball they just hacked it away down the field and handed it straight back to Hull. With Bircham gone Hull would then come right back at Rangers and be attacking the back four within seconds. Cook, Jones, Blackstock and Baidoo were virtual spectators - Jones did some sterling work defending Marney's excellent free kicks and corners though. Gregory replaced Blackstock with Furlong in his final change but Furlong could only take up Blackstock's role of being paid to watch the match.

Phil Brown slung Stuart Elliott on as they searched for an equaliser as the game moved into the closing stages. Simon Royce came for a corner and made a mess of it, Nicky Forster hooked over an open goal. Parkin missed an even better chance than this within minutes after Royce again made a mistake, fumbling Marney's free kick. It seemed only a matter of time, the pressure was mounting, Rangers weren't at the races.

When the leveller arrived the only surprise was that it had taken so long. Marney was the provider, a great cross from the right by him, and Elliott the sub emphatically finished it off from close range.

Suddenly Rangers raised themselves and made it into the Hull half for the first time in twenty minutes. When they did the home side panicked and Furlong was hauled to the ground inside the penalty area. It was a nailed on penalty and the referee even seemed to put the whistle to his lips but then decided against. Cook was furious and chewed the referee's ear off all the way back to the halfway line as they prepared for the goal kick. Ultimately the referee lost patience and showed him a second yellow and then the red. All in all it summed the game up - an incident bourn out of crass, incompetent refereeing, exacerbated by one of the players behaving like a petulant kid, resulting in an incident that never needed to take place. All involved should hang their heads.

The QPR midfield had barely existed with four men in it but now with only three it was just swamped. Another Marney free kick was forced out for a corner but from that Stuart Elliott climbed highest and headed into the top corner off the post. Marney's set pieces had been too much for QPR to cope with throughout the match and Elliott's brilliant header was all that had been missing until the final ten minutes.

Now behind QPR suddenly, and infuriatingly, started to play again. Mr Miller started giving them free kicks again and Jimmy Smith twice had goal bound efforts blocked from Steve Lomas free kicks in stoppage time.

For Hull this was a great result. The home side played with a passion and a desire lacking from Rangers in the second half. You've got to wonder just why Phil Parkinson is so highly rated. Bought for substantial compensation from Colchester over the summer and now entrusted with Charlton's Premiership survival alongside Alan Pardew and yet this team that he couldn't do a thing with is being led on a great run of form by Phil Brown. That's Phil Brown who turned Derby County from play off semi finalists into relegation candidates in nine months. I wouldn't trust Mr Parkinson to wash my car on this evidence.

QPR had the game all sewn up - 1-0 up at half time against a poor side and well in an even contest, they sat back and tried to kill it second half and failed miserably. Bircham going off was the key moment, he took all hope with him. The same thing happened at Birmingham over Christmas - leave him on for God's sake.

Wandering back to the car afterwards a rotund Hull fan announced that his friend had just text him "QPR came to spoil the game, football was the winner." Well he's half right. QPR did go out in the second half to spoil it and they got what they deserved for that, but the only winner today was Hull City. For large periods of this game football was distinctly absent. Piss poor refereeing, play acting, players arguing over who should pass the ball to who after an injury, petulance, dissent, stupid cards, players asking for other players to be booked, long ball football from two crap sides, police and stewards crawling all over the joint, home fans charged five pounds to sit five feet away from away fans charged more than four times that amount - this was everything that is bad about football rolled up into ninety minutes and put on show. Only Richard Keys and a catchy title like "Showdown Saturday" was missing.

There was a winner this afternoon, and they thoroughly, richly deserved the three points, but football was a distinct and distant last behind everything else that went on out there. Another twenty quid for a Luton ticket on Tuesday I presume? Not for too much longer if this continues, not sure how much more of this shit I can take.

Hull: Myhill 6, Ricketts 6, Turner 7, Delaney 8, Dawson 7, Marney 8, Ashbee 8, Livermore 7 (Elliott 80, 9), McPhee 7 (Duffy 67, 8), Parkin 7, Barmby 7 (Forster 46, 8).
Subs Not Used: Duke, Coles.
Booked: Parkin, Ashbee, Livermore.
Goals: Elliott 85, 90.

QPR: Royce 5, Bignot 6 (Timoska 31, 5), Stewart 6, Mancienne 6, Kanyuka 5, Cook 6, Lomas 6, Smith 5, Bircham 6 (Baidoo 61, 5), Ray Jones 6, Blackstock 6 (Furlong 76, 5).
Subs Not Used: Cole, Bailey.
Sent Off: Cook (87).
Booked: Blackstock, Timoska, Cook, Lomas.
Goals: Blackstock 45.

Attendance: 19,791

QPR Star Man - Steve Lomas 6 - Understands what a battle is all about and was doing a grand job until Bircham's departure. Without a partner he was swamped.

Ref: N Miller (Co Durham) 3 - QPR Rivals Referee of the Year? If we'd given him a medal I'd like to choke him to death with it tonight. Shambolic display from start to finish. Gave some ridiculous decisions in QPR's favour for the first hour and then after failing to card Kanyuka for the worst challenge of the season so far on Forster set about awarding everything to Hull. Failed to award a blatant penalty when Cook was tripped and then sent him off for complaining. Allowed time wasting, stopped play for one head injury and played on for another, carded for something and then didn't even award a free kick for the same thing moments later. Lost it big time, a horrific performance.

Photo: Action Images

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