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R’s profit from controversial call – Hull City 1 QPR 1
R’s profit from controversial call – Hull City 1 QPR 1
Sunday, 13th Apr 2008 14:14

QPR dented Hull’s promotion charge with a backs-to-the-wall effort at the KC Stadium. Only an eighth last minute goal against of the season denied the R’s a win.

Now normally I like to take some time to consider the match report before actually writing it, looking for the right angle to lead on. Sometimes it’s an incident in the match like a late save from Lee Camp or a wonderful pass from Martin Rowlands, sometimes it’s a song or a comment I’ve over heard in the away end, sometimes it’s something I’ve heard an opposition fan say on the way out. And when it’s none of those sometimes it’s just me rambling on. This often takes up quite a good portion of my Sunday and means I miss most of the lunch time match and cop angry looks from the Mrs who, understandably, doesn’t like me sitting staring at a screen for hours on end on what is supposed to be my day off.

Thank you then to ‘John Snell’ for not only making QPR’s stubborn effort to win a point from the promotion chasing Tigers all the more hilarious than it was on the day, but also for saving me the job of finding an introduction to the match report. ‘John’, for those that don’t know, is the side comedian that writes the match previews for the Hull equivalent of this site. So rather than write the introduction myself I thought I’d turn it over to ‘John’, and his excellent preview of Saturday’s match which makes for good reading after QPR won a point at the KC Stadium and came within a few minutes of taking all three.

”DQPR are annoying. Just who do they think they are? The only time they ever beat us, is when they bring in a new manager for our visits to cash in on the 'first game feel-good factor' Aside from that, they're rubbish. And we'll show the R's up for how dire they are this Saturday.

“Indeed, in the other games not involving a 'new' manager for our benefit, the Drama Queens have looked second best and distinctly average. Hull City should cruise past this Premier League has-been outfit from a by-gone era and put the mediocrity that wafts through the club like a bad smell to the sword.

“Yes, welcome to Hull. When you get here, you will find an extremely hard-working side, full of endeavour and commitment. The ceaseless nature of our play, the hustling and hassling of any such primadonnas you have in your closet will soon shrivel and wither, Hull City welcome you to fast, fluent, slick passing game played to a high tempo. Are you ready? Ppprrrrffff!

“Hull City will win, solely because we have a 'Frazier Campbell' and DQPR don't. Hull City will win, because our form is immense and the desire and spirit embedded into this Tigers's side burns strong and fierce to reach our destined goal of Premier League glory. Hull City will win because we're supreme and frankly, DQPR are not.

“FORZA TIGERS! Perhaps the DQPR owners will understand where I am coming from. Well, they will come 4.50pm tomorrow, anyway. Enjoy your defeat and have a safe journey home without disturbing the train's buffet bar.”

The QPR team sent for slaughter at the hands of the Tigers featured former Hull man Damien Delaney at left back with Matt Connolly dropping to the bench. Damion Stewart and Fitz Hall were the centre backs charged with facing Dean Windass and Fraizer Campebll and while that didn’t inspire much confidence prior to kick off De Canio had done his homework and had a way to stop the in form pair before the ball even reached them – more on that later. Michael Mancienne was the right back ahead of Camp in goal. In midfield Buzsaky was still injured and Leigertwood was dropped to the bench so Mahon and Rowlands started in the middle with Ephraim and Ainsworth on the flanks. Up front Blackstock partnered Agyemang.

Hull came into the game on the back of a two week break brought on by the cup commitments of their opponents last weekend. Phil Brown had a near fully fit squad to choose from and not surprisingly kept faith with the starting eleven that demolished Watford at the KC Stadium last time out. Simon Walton, on loan to Hull from Rangers, was forbidden from playing under the terms of his loan and replaced on the bench by Ryan France.

Right from the off the QPR game plan was clear – pressure Hull high up the pitch and force them to knock long balls to Campbell and Windass. The Hull strikers may have had the beating of Stewart and Hall on the ground but the two centre halves had the upper hand in the air and this strategy worked very well for us in the first half. Moans and groans could be heard from the home end from the twentieth minute onwards as one long punt down the field after another was comfortably headed away by the QPR defence. There was little evidence of the “fast, fluent, slick passing game played to a high tempo” that we’d been promised.

The hussling and harrying of Hull players in their own half helped QPR to create a few chances of their own as well. The first effort on goal in the game came after five minutes when Hull were forced to concede possession to Gavin Mahon inside their own half. After a brief exchange of passes between Mahon, Ephraim and Delaney the former Hull City man lofted a cross up to the back post where Gareth Ainsworth steamed in with a header that was comfortably saved by Myhill.

Ainsworth was involved again after ten minutes when Hull again gave the ball away the wrong side of halfway. A scrappy period of play was ended by Ainsworth volleying a hopeful ball down the pitch towards Agyemang who brought it down beautifully with his first touch and then struck a clean volley straight at Myhill from the edge of the penalty area.

Three minutes later Rangers went into the lead in controversial circumstances. Another aimless long ball from Ashbee, regressing to his bad old self after impressing me in the past few months, ran straight through to Camp who tried to get Rangers straight on the attack with a throw out to Ephraim. The keeper’s ball out dissected Delaney and Ephraim and almost allowed Marney and Ricketts to nick it back for Hull but Delaney slid in with a challenge to win the ball back and set Patrick Agyemang away. The home fans screamed for hand ball against their former favourite but with referee Graham Laws waving play on Agyemang put Ephraim through into the gap vacated by Ricketts and from that point on Hull were stretched. Ephraim skipped into the area and fired a low cross into the six yard box where Wayne Brown got caught in two minds and turned the ball towards his own goal at full stretch, Myhill saved but spilled it back out into the danger zone and Dexter Blackstock piled in to try and force it home in the Mother of all goal mouth scrambles. Hull thought they’d survived but the linesman on the West Stand side of the ground immediately signalled that the ball had crossed the line and QPR were in front. Rowlands rolled the ball into the net for good measure but by that time Myhill was chasing the linesman off down the touchline.

Replays show that the ball didn’t cross the line but Hull had hardly threatened to this point and QPR were good value for the lead, even if they hadn’t managed to actually score a goal to get it. Myhill spilled a corner and Agyemang almost turned the loose ball home and then Hogan Ephraim’s cross shot needed attention from the keeper as QPR continued to dominate.

It took the home side 25 minutes to register a serious effort on goal and again the officials were at the centre of it, referee Laws punishing Stewart for climbing over Windass on the edge of the penalty area to set up a dangerous set piece situation. Andy Dawson is the free kick specialist in these parts and his left footed effort cleared the wall and looked destined for the roof of the net until Lee Camp flung himself across and turned the ball over one handed. From the corner he got a tremendous punch away to almost the halfway line but was given a free kick for a push in the six yard box anyway.

Just before the break Campbell seized on a knock down from Windass in the penalty area, the first time Hull had made anything of one of their long balls, and spun past Stewart. The loaned front man half hit the deck before regaining his feet and attempting to get a shot away – Fitz Hall came across with a goal saving tackle. Campbell was adamant play should have been brought back for a penalty but there was little, if any, contact from Stewart and a spot kick would have been harsh. Laws advertised two minutes of added time and played three despite no substitutions or injuries in the first half but QPR got through it with few problems and went in at half time a goal to the good. Not for the first time recently I find myself writing about strange time keeping from officials – there seems in the past few weeks to be longer periods of stoppage time being advertised than before, and the time actually played is departing further and further from the number displayed on the fourth official’s board. Why we’re getting all this added time, especially when as I say there were no injuries or subs in the first half, and what exactly the point is of having the board go up with one number on it only for the referee to play what the hell he likes I don’t know. This needs to be clarified by the authorities because in our games with Wolves, Preston and now Hull the inordinate amount of stoppage time added has been crucial to the result and on all three occasions it was difficult to see where the referee found the time from.

The visiting fans probably expected an onslaught at the start of the second half but in truth the play was scrappy and the flow of the game disrupted by three substitutions in the first quarter of an hour. Both teams lost a player to injury, Dexter Blackstock was replaced by Mikele Leigertwood and Richard Garcia made way for Bryan Hughes, and Phil Brown threw Caleb Folan on as well to replace the ineffective Henrik Pederson. Martin Rowlands was deservedly shown a yellow card for a poor foul that resulted in the injury to Garcia, and he was lucky to stay on the pitch thirty seconds later when he gave the referee a piece of his mind after being awarded a free kick – luckily for the QPR captain Laws was in forgiving mood and decided a stern lecture was enough punishment. This stop start beginning to the half played into QPR’s hands as they looked to slow the game down and waste time at every possible opportunity.

As the half wore on De Canio’s men departed more and more from what they’d done so well in the first half – pressing Hull high up the pitch. They began to rely more and more on running the clock down, they showed little ambition to get forward, they dropped deep into their own half and started giving the ball away. This is an all too familiar story this season when we’re holding a lead away from home and it’s not the way to defend advantages as we have shown time and again. Suddenly instead of pumping long balls down the field from their own half Hull were lofting dangerous crosses into the penalty area from only thirty or forty yards away. The first half belonged predominantly to QPR but the second was all Hull and we were clinging on by our finger nails at times.

Folan nearly announced his arrival with a goal but could only head a cross from his fellow sub Hughes wide in the 69th minute. Seconds later Windass combined with Campbell again to give the Man Utd man a sight of goal. He fluffed an attempted half volley but managed to maintain control of the ball, spin and fire a shot into the side netting. Camp had his near post covered and would have saved had the shot been on target. Camp did have to make a save in Hull’s next attack, Dean Windass curled a free kick towards goal after Campbell theatrically fell at the feet of Michael Mancienne – Camp needed two attempts to gather the shot but with nobody waiting to tap in the rebound he was permitted that luxury.

With Craig Fagan joining the fray for the last 15 minutes, replacing Windass, Hull really were throwing everything they had at QPR and they almost got their reward when Folan headed Hughes’ cross down for Campbell, two yards offside, to divert towards goal with his head. Lee Camp thrust out and arm and somehow came away with the ball.

QPR’s one and only attack of the second half saw Gareth Ainsworth tear off down the right wing, cutting in past Dawson and firing a low cross to the near post that was easily cleared. That really was about it for attacking ambition from the Super Hoops in the second half. Ainsworth did try to launch a similar assault on Myhill’s goal almost immediately but was crudely chopped down by Fagan who got a booking for his troubles – despite him protesting that it was his first offence. He was right, but it was a nasty one and deserved a card.

Hull were starting to get frustrated. Both Sam Ricketts and Dean Marney may find themselves invited down to the training ground of the ailing Rugby League side that shares the KC Stadium this week if their skied efforts over the cross bar are anything to go by – they’d have got two points apiece for those had they been wearing black and white hoops.

Rangers used their final substitution to send on Angelo Balanta for Patrick Agyemang who put in another good shift of hard work up front. Balanta was charged with running round and trying to work the Hull back four a bit but with the QPR midfield now right back on the edge of its own penalty area he was left isolated and outnumbered.

As the 90 minute mark approached Lee Camp crossed himself off the Christmas card list for most Hull fans with a little bit of gamesmanship. Camp raced out of his area to meet a through ball and was forced to dribble it out towards the corner flag under pressure from Campbell. He cleared the ball into the stand but then possibly fearing a quick Hull throw while he was away from his goal he hit the deck after a clash with Campbell and the QPR physio was summoned. It wasn’t the greatest surprise that he was able to play on but this was the main contributor to the referee adding on five minutes at the end of the game and eventually playing seven and a half.

As usual the stoppage time board going up was the cue for QPR to panic and Hull got their equaliser just over a minute later. Folan took Damien Delaney to the byline and just as the full back was about to put is foot in to block Folan produced a terrific cross into the six yard box and centre half Michael Turner side footed home. An ugly clash ensued between Lee Camp and several Hull players trying to get the ball back to the centre circle and the QPR keeper was shown a yellow card as a result.

Looking at the replay the number of QPR defenders marking nobody while Hull players arrived unmarked was criminal and it’s this type of keystone cops defending that we keep producing in stoppage time that’s cost us valuable points this season. Damion Stewart and Michael Mancienne were both marking nobody when Turner smashed the ball home five yards away from the pair of them.

De Canio put Connolly on in the aftermath of the goal to try and see the game out but with Laws apparently enjoying the match so much he didn’t want it to end Hull almost snatched the win in the sixth minute of the five advertised. Again it was Campbell with the chance, again Rangers left Hull players unmarked in the six yard box, but again he fluffed his lines with a mis hit volley straight at Camp after Folan’s knock down. Campbell certainly looked impressive on the day, a turn and run from half way that bamboozled Ephraim and Delaney in one swoop was almost worth the admission fee alone, but he missed some terrific chances in this game – at least three gilt edged opportunities.

Hull look a long way from being a Premiership side on this evidence – certainly not as good as Derby were at this point last season and they’ve had a tortuous season in the top flight culminating in a another six goal hammering yesterday, their third of the season. With their best player only on loan the Tigers will face a massive struggle in the top flight if they are promoted and will need to spend tens of millions to be competitive. Having said that they’re capable of better than they produced on Saturday – I’d be surprised if they’ve played much worse than this in the past few months.

Rangers are now six unbeaten and although four of those games have been drawn it’s been a very tough run of fixtures against teams pushing for promotion or on the top of the form table or both. We’re finding a way not to lose games and that’s to our great credit. Sadly we’re also quite often finding a way not to win games and four points have been surrendered to last minute goals in this mini run. Eight times this season we’ve conceded in the last few minutes of games and that really isn’t good enough – at Ipswich Kieran Lee’s introduction helped us to maintain possession and avoid more last minute heartbreak and I’m surprised he wasn’t utilised again here.

We’d have taken a point had it been offered at 3pm, but it’s disappointing to get to stoppage time in front again and not win.

It would be remiss of me not to allow ‘John’ and his bitter friends at the City Independent website the final word. “At least good teams don’t lose to crap teams” – never a truer word spoken. QPR have taken four points from two games with Hull City this season.

Hull City: Myhill 6, Ricketts 6, Turner 7, Brown 7, Dawson 7, Garcia 6 (Hughes 54, 7), Ashbee 4, Marney 6, Pedersen 6 (Folan 61, 7), Windass 6 (Fagan 75, 7), Campbell 7
Subs Not Used: Duke, France
Booked: Fagan (foul)
Goals: Turner 90 (assisted Folan)

QPR: Camp 7, Mancienne 6, Stewart 7, Hall 7, Delaney 7, Ephraim 7, Ainsworth 7 (Connolly 90, -), Mahon 6, Rowlands 7, Blackstock 6 (Leigertwood 55, 5), Agyemang 7 (Balanta 80, -)
Subs Not Used: Pickens, Lee
Booked: Rowlands (foul), Camp (time wasting), Leigertwood (foul)
Goals: Blackstock 14 (assisted Ephraim)

QPR Star Man – Fitz Hall 7 - Pretty difficult to pick one actually, would have been Agyemang if he’d managed a goal because he worked his socks off up front. Stewart played pretty well but concedes too many fouls and was marking nobody for their goal, Ainsworth played well wide right and Camp was in good form once again. In the end I’ve gone for Hall who won every header at the back, played some terrific balls out of defence including an unbelievable cross field 50 yard effort in the second half and had more to do with rangers keeping Hull at bay for so long than most. His best performance for some time in my opinion.

Referee: Graham Laws (Tyne & Wear) 6 - The referee did alright for me but was let down throughout the game by his two assistants. Of course the controversy surrounding the QPR goal is already well documented and having messed that decision up the linesman on that side, Mr Atkins, spent the rest of the game desperately trying to even things up by flagging for one Hull free kick after another. The merry flag waver at the other end wasn’t much better, taking an absolute age to get his flag up for even the most basic of throw in and offside decisions. Laws certainly isn’t the best referee we’ll have this season, but he’s far from the worst and his performance was undermined by the incompetence of those supposedly there to help him.

Attendance: 22,468 (900 QPR fans approx) - The Hull fans are consistently one of the loudest home crowds in the Championship and really back their team well. Having said that I can’t think off the top of my head where you’ll see a bigger collection of pond life than there is in the block directly to the left of the away end – ‘you’re not English any more’ and ‘no surrender to the IRA’ were just two of the nonsensical rambles emanating from that part of the ground during the second half. The QPR fans travelled in half decent numbers, certainly more than Hull brought to Loftus Road, and sang throughout the second half but were often drowned out by their noisy hosts.

Discuss this match on the Message Board

Three users have commented on this article - Click here To add your thoughts

I had the misfortune to be sitting with the home fans on Saturday, at top of the high stand (west I think). The home fans there didn't open their mouths for 91 minutes, and the fans on the noisier east side were still pretty quiet. My Hull supporting friend was very impressed with the constant singing from the away support throughout the second half, so well done you lot. - Ben

As a Hull fan I enjoyed reading your report and think that it gives an unbiased view. Good luck for next season.  - Tynegate

Just a note from a Hull City fan to congratulate you on the quality of your fanzine. The pre match report relating to saturday's game had the kind of detail and insight that i would expect from a decent undergraduate essay and, despite the usual remarks about a section of our cerebrally challenged brethren, I thought the match report was perceptive, detailed, engaging and objective. You saw the game i watched. Proper football journalism. Sorry about City Independent. They are a continual source of embarrassment. Anyway, just thought I'd share me thoughts with you. Your fanzine is the kind of forum all decent football fans should be proud to be able to access. Good luck for the rest of the season. - codhead



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