Premier League
Hull City 2 West Ham United 1

Saturday, 1st April 2017
by Gordon Thrower

There are two halves in a game. Just saying.

An early start for this one enabled an arrival in time for a breakfast which is still doing unspeakable things to my stomach as we speak. Best overheard comment from a local: "City of Culture? It's just something they can stick on the posters stuck on all those empty run-down buildings all over the place".

Injuries incurred in the last match had taken their toll on the team> Despite that there was no return for the skipper who was on the bench. With Reid out of action the armband was given to Carroll giving us a starting XI of Randolph, Byram, Cresswell, Fonte, Collins, Kouyate, Snodgrass, Feghouli, Lanzini, Ayew, Carroll.

The first incident of any note came with scarcely a minute on the clock as Fonte went through the back of Robertson, a pointless tackle in neutral territory that heft the defender one challenge away from a red with one of the league's less trustworthy officials in charge. Wise move. Not. Thankfully Hull seemed intent on showing the world while they were third from bottom rather than showing off their more recent form and, for much of half we were very comfy thanks very much.

Snodgrass should have given us the lead early on. Feghouli whipped in a cross that the Scot had time to kill and bury but instead elected to try and head first time enabling the 'keeper to save. Snodgrass was being baited by the crowd for being "greedy", something that suggests brain activity of sub Spurs levels in the home support who seem to think that a) players join West Ham for the money; and b) Hull is some sort of paradise and it's only a few bob in wages that is stopping Messi from leaving his Barcelona hell for the city of Culture.

We didn't have to wait too long for the opener. Picking up the ball in central midfield Lanzini brought Cresswell into play. Cresswell's cross duped Davis. Carroll's judgement was a bit more spot on and the striker had all the time in the world to do what Snodgrass should have done earlier and put the ball away for what I am told is his 50th top flight goal. How many more would he have had but for injury.

I said we were comfortable but, such is the nature of our makeshift defence these days, we are only ever a moment away from shooting ourselves in the foot. Randolph decided to try and beat two players in his own box. He eventually did well enough to smuggle the ball clear with a desperate but fair tackle, Hernandez - who proved to be Hull's designated diver for the day - fooling nobody by clutching his ankle in an attempt to con the "gullible when it suits him" Jones.

Lanzini was proving to be more and more influential and it took a good save from Jakupovic to prevent the lead from being doubled on the half hour, Lanzini's low effort cutting in from the left being tipped round for a corner.

In truth it wasn't an incident packed half but we were good value for the lead when the three minutes of stoppage cane to an end.

Half Time Hull City 0 West Ham United 1

The second half started with a tactical change with Grosicki replacing Davis as the home side reverted to a back four instead of the three that Carroll had been enjoying himself so much against.

We've not been playing well of late but it has to be said we've not enjoyed the best of luck either and there was a huge element of jam about the equaliser when it came on 53 minutes. Grosicki made a complete pig's ear of an attempt to get round Byram but Robertson turned it into a silk

purse with his untracked run into the box and he was able to finish with Collins failing to get across quickly enough to cover.

Carroll then had a powerful header saved - I was in line and those must be some neck muscles the lad has - but we then went to pieces for a bit. A blocked effort fell nicely to N'Daye who somehow hit the post when it looked easier to score. The rebound fell to Grosicki who screwed a tame effort wide.

Carroll, who had been our best attacker and defender put in a bid for best midfielder as well putting in a peach of a tackle. Unfortunately we had Jones in his usual mood and Carroll picked up yellow from what looked to be a disgraceful piece of refereeing, the ball coming off the player's arm as he slid through.

We made two changes just after the hour. Snodgrass went off to be replaced by Fernandes whilst Cresswell pulled up lame to be replaced by Masuaku. We then threw it away.

Hull forced a corner. Masuaku seemed more intent on telling everyone else what to do than actually picking up Ranocchia who nodded a simple header home. It was shambolic defending of the lowest order, and even with a patched-up defence there really should be no excuse for that.

Some joker lobbed a flare at the pitch which, displaying all the intelligence of the rest of the locals, a steward decided was best extinguished by throwing sand somewhere near the flame rather than actually on top of it. Eventually somebody came up with some more sand and suggested burying the flame with the stuff and sticking the bucket over it to starve it of oxygen. That and a few injuries added six minutes of stoppage that were as pointless as we were and the match came to an end with another three points being thrown away.

Full Time: Hull City 2 West Ham United 1

So yet again we managed to throw away good work by failing to concentrate at the death. That was a game that was there for the taking and we simply have to stop chucking stuff away like that. If nothing else the travelling support deserve better than that second half performance if only for having to go to Hull.

So there you have it. 449.00 miles. 7 hours 15 minutes at the wheel and the only bright side of the day was the fact that a system failure meant that the Gnomemobile's chosen car-park was unable to charge me for the privilege of leaving the motor there.

Frankly I'd have swapped the fiver for three points.

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Player Ratings

Darren Randolph
Barely tested but his walkabout in the first half could have proved costly.

Sam Byram
Improving - a run in the position helps but he has a way to go yet.

Aaron Cresswell
Good cross for the goal but continues to give the ball away far too much.

James Collins
At one point in the game he had a ten yard start on his man and still lost the race. . Lovely bloke and all that but you can see why he doesn't get picked unless there are injuries.

Jose Fonte
Not having a regular partner doesn't help but neither does stupid challenges made after 80 seconds.

Cheikhou Kouyate
Failed to track runs from the deep too often.

Andre Ayew
Our half-time discussion included the phrase "What is Ayew for?". Neither striker nor midfielder and I'm struggling to remember any contribution of note.

Robert Snodgrass
Poor. Should have scored.

Andy Carroll
Best defender. Best attacker. Like Lanzini he can hold his head high.

Manuel Lanzini
If we were going to do anything it was likely to come through him and Carroll. Probably the classiest player on the pitch in a match bereft of much in the way of class.

Sofiane Feghouli
Blind alleys seem to be a speciality.


Edimilson Fernandes
(Replaced Snodgrass) Made about as much impression as Snodgrass who he replaced.

Arthur Masuaku
(Replaced Cresswell) Largely responsible for the winner because he was mouthing off at everyone else rather than concentrating on his own job.

Jonathan Calleri
(Replaced Kouyate) Although I'm not sure there would have been much point in bringing him on any earlier, the game had gone by the time he did arrive.

Adrian San Miguel Del Castillo
Did not play.

Havard Nordtveit
Did not play.

Mark Noble
Did not play.

Ashley Fletcher
Did not play.

Match Facts

West Ham United: Darren Randolph, Sam Byram, Aaron Cresswell, James Collins, Jose Fonte, Cheikhou Kouyate, Andre Ayew, Robert Snodgrass, Andy Carroll, Manuel Lanzini, Sofiane Feghouli.

Goals: Andy Carroll 18                  .

Booked: Jose Fonte  Andy Carroll         .

Sent Off: None sent off.     .

Hull City: Boruc, A.Smith, Francis, Cook, Daniels, Fraser (Mousset 85), Arter, Gosling, Pugh, King, Afobe (Wilshere 85).

Subs not used: Allsop, Cargill, B.Smith, Gradel, Ibe.

Goals: King (31, 48, 90).

Booked: Pugh, Afobe, Gosling, Cook.

Sent off: None.

Referee: Bobby Madley.

Attendance: 0.

Man of the Match: Manuel Lanzini.