Date: 31st December 2008 at 10:07am
Written by: Glensider

I’m not altogether sure that we were fully up for the long trek up to Humberside as we set off from Brummagem earlier this afternoon. The Christmas festivities and celebrations having taken their toll on each and every one of us in varying ways these past few days, but, the lads were back in action, hoping to reclaim fourth spot from north Londons finest, so duty called, work has to take a back-burner, and for the final time in 2008, we were back on the road again.

At least all four of us were as one when it came to our predictions for the game ahead, all going for a relatively comfortable Villa victory, and that united front has to have been a first so far this season. I’m not sure whether that vote of confidence in the lads is a good thing though. Its always when we’re expecting a thoroughly enjoyable away-day that we seem to suffer the unexpected set-back, a dis-jointed performance, and find ourselves enduring a miserable and disappointing drive home.

If we thought it were somewhat on the bracing side as we left Brum, it was decidedly mediterranean here compared to the frigid temperatures that greeted us up in Tiger Country. Fortunately all four of us had traveled prepared, all sporting new attire recently acquired from gift-giving loved ones. Memo to the wife. Add a couple of fur-lined jock straps to the sweaters and socks next Christmas, will you?

Martin certainly didn’t spring any surprises on us, sensibly going with the great bunch of lads that were so unfortunate not to see off Whining Wengers lot on Boxing Day, so the ‘Good Guys’ lined up as follows:-

Brad in goal, Nige, Curtis, Zat, Luke at the back, James, Stilyan, Steve, Gareth the skipper again (good to see him back in that role again) and Ash across the middle, and Gabby as per usual, creating havoc up front.

On the subs bench we had the usual crew of Guzan, Salifou, Delfouneso, Harewood, Shorey, Osbourne and Gardner.

Their line-up consisted of ex-Villan Boaz Myhill in goal, the 50 year old (surely?) Nicky Barmby in midfield, and nine others who to be honest, I’ve never heard of.

On the bench though was Geovanni, which I found somewhat surprising, along with Marlon King and the ex-Bolton stalwart Giannakopoulos. No place anywhere for that other Villa old-boy George Boateng, you know, that other guy who couldn’t wait to exit Villa Park to better himself, and abruptly headed off to Middlesbrough! {He was out following a training ground injury JF}

Clearly their omission was a continuation of Phil Browns rant against his team’s first half performance in Manchester on Boxing Day. For a team so clearly short on premiership quality though, I can’t help but feel that he’s cutting off his nose to spite his face, in what are clearly becoming worrying times for Hull City Football Club.

Great atmosphere in house at The KC Stadium. I don’t know whether that translated to the tv screen, but give the home support their due, they were certainly ready and willing to get behind their team. Plaudits too for the Villa contingent. We once again journeyed in numbers, and once again fully contributed to the volume of noise created.

The home side started brightly, and had the ball in the back of our net inside the opening five minutes, but fortunately referee Bennett disallowed the effort, ruling that Barmby had impeded Brad Friedel, before Nigel Reo-Coker got a final touch to put the ball into our net.

The challenge on Brad looked innocuous enough to me, but I wasn’t going to complain too long and loud.

A lot of strong tackles were flying in during the opening exchanges, as we attempted to get ourselves into the game, mainly by getting Ashley involved more, but it wasn’t until the thirty minute mark that anyone was yellow carded, Hull defender Zayatte booked for fouling Gabby.

Ironically enough, the man who was destined to become our hero late on, and I’m talking about Zarate here, was lucky to stay on the pitch a short while after his booking, when once again he barged into Gabby, but escaped this time with a talking to from referee Bennett.

Definitely a scrappy first half. Neither side really looking particularly threatening, although I did think that we’d slightly shaded it, and looked to have enough in reserve to hopefully step up a gear and return home to Brum with three more points in the bag.

No changes at the break, both managers clearly happy enough with what they’d seen, but most of us in the Villa end seemed to think that the game had 0-0 written all over it, unless someone could conjure up the bit of quality and magic that had been clearly lacking throughout the first forty-five.

Gareth got himself booked shortly after the restart, but that was the only real action of note, neither keeper having yet to make a save.

The first effort on target, and I use the word ‘effort’ somewhat loosely, was a Gareth Barry shot through a ruck of players, comfortably collected by Myhill.

We weren’t playing well, there was no escaping the fact, but we have that uncanny knack of riding our luck, and creating something out of nothing to collect the points. Not a bad habit to have.

Hull started to look the side more likely to break the deadlock, yet with two minutes of normal time remaining, Ash broke clear on the right to put in one of his trademark wicked crosses, crosses that invite someone, one of our lads, the opposition, anyone, to get a touch, and send the ball into the back of the net.

Poor old Zayatte, lucky to still be on the pitch, was the unlucky individual who got the final touch to this beaut. 1-0 to Marts lads, cue celebrations on and off the pitch.

The drama though wasn’t over, Michael Turner sending a header clipping against the crossbar, only for referee Bennett to point to the penalty spot, believing that Ashley had palmed the ball over the top.

Pandemonium ensued, before Bennett reversed his decision, after consulting with a linesman.

So, another three points on the road, three points gained from a decidely below par showing. Weren’t we saying that after Upton Park though? Clearly we’re doing something right.

So back to Brum we travel, up early for work, then prepare ourselves for the trip to Gillingham on Sunday.

Into the new year we go, fourth in the table, everything to play for. What an exciting 2009 it promises to be.

Happy New Year to all, and I’ll leave you with my marks out of ten from the game:-

Player Ratings

Brad Friedel – 6

Nigel Reo-Coker – 5

Curtis Davies – 6

Zat Knight – 6

Luke Young – 7

James Milner – 6

Gareth Barry – 7

Stiliyan Petrov – 6

Steve Sidwell – 6

Ashley Young – 7

Gabby Agbonlahor – 6

Craig Gardner
Craig – on for Sidwell late on, not on long enough to evaluate.


One Reply to “Glensider Away At Hull”

  • I thought Zat Knight had a solid game at the back. Put in some really good challenges and blocks. He is prone to the odd mistake (a couple of slices) but other than that – I was pleased with him. Apart from his cross for the goal – Ashley was really poor and lots of his free kicks and corners didn’t get past the first defender.

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