THAT WAS CRAZY! A failure to kill the game and a string of ridiculous defensive errors almost cost Boro dear. Three nil up and cruising then suddenly the team came all over Norwich away and they were left hanging on nervously in stoppage time.
Sloppy at the back. No sense of urgency. A failure to clear the danger in the box. Dawdling over the ball in the area. No-one picking up runs down the flank. Stupid free-kicks conceded in dangerous positions. Men over in the box. Balls played across the face of goal… it was a masterclass in how not to defend – and if Boro do that against Bolton they will get hammered.
A lot of those problems were there in the first half but went unpunished but at 3-0 up maybe Hull decided they had nothing to lose and Boro thought they were home and dry and suddenly the dynamic’s of the game shifted. Hull gave it a good go and all credit to them. In the first half they did not have a shot but in the second they had a dozen. They could have got something quite easily and it would have been hard to say they didn’t deserve it. Schwarzer made a great save from a free-kick to deny defender Andy Dawson a hat-trick and new Korean signing Young Lee Catt came sliding in to block from Ryan France at the death.
But despite the chaos and jittery finish it was very entertaining. Under Steve McClaren the game would have finished 1-0 (Christie, 79) and we would be moaned about it being tedious then the boss would have annoyed the diehard 8,122 by saying the lads were “magnificent” and the supporters who booed the team off at half-time then left early “needed educating”. It is progress of sorts. It keeps the unbeaten run going and the team have netted ten goals in three games so it is a kind of new golden age. Some observations:
HINES MEANZ GOALZ: That was our suggested headline after the debut strike by Seb Hines, 18. The goal may have been a bit spawny – it took a nice deflection off a defenders calf as he skipped through – but the one-two to get to the edge of the box was neat and it was a sweet finish for the Wetherby lad, the 16th academy graduate in three years to make the first team.
Boro spin doctor Dave Allan had predicted before the game that he would score but sadly didn’t put his money where his mouth was. Hines wasn’t even on the coupon for first goalscorer but I reckon you would have got 66-1 for the football fairytale.
DOWNING IN THE MOUTH? I have been a big fan and ardent defender of Stewy even during the past few weeks when he has been a bit flat because he has long been Boro’s most – and sometimes only – creative outlet an prolific assist king but tonight was a poor show. Repeatedly crosses were being blocked by the first man or flying high and wide, free-kicks were wasted and there was a lack of zest and invention. Possession was conceded cheaply. His body language wasn’t convincing. There was some frustrated sniping at other players.
His night was summed up in the first half just outside the box on the left when in an advanced display of Premiership fancydannery he twisted and turned and did a few stepovers in front of a Hull defender who left him to it for a while then got bored and poked the ball through his legs, a bit like the Christiano Ronaldo stickman flash cartoon that has been whizzing around the internet for a few years. The Hull man skipped off leaving Stewy to chase him furiously and lunge at him in frustration from behind and although only a throw was given it could quite easily have been a booking. There were a few of those incidents in the game.
HULL 4 BORO 0: The away fans were magnificent and made me yearn for the days when we were the underdogs, travelling more in hope than expectation and enjoying every minute. “Where’s the singing section?”, asked Eric loooking towards the North Stand. “It’s over there,” I told him, pointing towards the away end. They were loud, they were passionate, they kept it up for the full 90 minutes. They had some good songs, hijacked the occasional rare Boro chants and threw them straight back louder and prouder. Even at 3-0 down they were singing Pigbag and taunting Boro. “It’s like a library.” “Don’t even sing when you’re winning.” They will have gone home buzzing about it being the greatest game ever.
At the Notts County game the Twe12th Man inspired singing section worked; it was novel and audible and well prepared and set the pace throughout the match. But against Hull it was swamped. The away fans in any game are a far more cohesive unit and are pumped up by the trip and when they travel in numbers they almost always out-do the home crowd. To be fair it was “their cup final” (patronise, patronise) but that should spur a response.
SPOT ON: The Yak is racing ahead in the goalscorer stake – but how many have been penalties? And how cool is it when he casually dinks it like that with the keeper going the wrong way? And do you remember when paranoid Boro fans were set to picket the FA because we had gone 44 games without one? Now we get one every week. Keep them coming… especially the iffy ones. If we defend like that then we need all the help we can get.
Boro’s penalty probably wasn’t as Stewy was trying to get out of the way more than anything. But Rob Styles evened it up soon after because the Hull penalty probably wasn’t either. Both of them landed in thebox but Xavier – who had been hopeless out-paced – made contact with his despairing lunge on or just outside the line. No pen… but on another day it could easily have been a red card. Xavier had a mare – out of position, miscontrolling, missed tackles – and his failure to clear the ball from the six yard box led to another goal.