A thoroughly miserable afternoon where I can only think of one bright spot – out-of-his-depth winger Craig Fagan has hopefully made his last appearance for Hull City.
Let’s rattle through this game quickly as no one wants to dwell on it. The first 15 minutes saw City in a woeful mess with barely anyone managing to put a foot right.
This included the move which saw a terrible throw by Boaz Myhill eclipsed by a much worse ball by Andy Dawson to Tom Cairney, who was dispossessed and within seconds the ball was in the net in front of the City travelling support. Three minutes in and we’d already managed to shoot ourselves in the foot.
However, despite their early domination West Ham failed to score a second, thwarted by some wayward shooting and a superb Myhill parry on the goal-line, and City gradually settled into the game, finishing the half the better side. City went closest when a neat interception and sidestep from George Boateng on the edge of the box saw him lash a left-foot shot that their keeper did well to stop.
The second half began with City looking in control, keeping possession for long periods and stroking the ball round. And just as an equaliser looked likely, Fagan, already on a yellow card, lost out in a tussle and decided to drag his opponent to the ground. The action happened on the touchline near the half-way line so there was no imminent danger – Fagan just lost his cool and deserved his second caution.
And, with 10 v 11, the game passed firmly back into West Ham’s control. The points were sealed when a fabulous slide pass from midfield evaded Antony Gardner and was slotted home by Carlton Cole.
By the time of their late third goal, three substitutes had been made, Gardner had been stretchered off with a worrying leg injury putting us down to nine men.
So, any positives? Once he’d tried two dives which failed to kid the referee, full debutant Amr Zaki started to look lively and a goal threat. He wasn’t as effective as Jozy Altidore, however, who replaced him in the second half. George Boateng and Stephen Muoyokolo can be content with solid performances.
Several other players – Stephen Hunt, Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink and Gardner immediately pop into my mind – were well off their best. Meanwhile Fagan, Dawson and Paul McShane did nothing to appease those detractors who think they’re not good enough for the Premier League.
Though our home form is good and the league is tight, realistically we won’t stay up this season if we don’t pick up some points away from home. We now have 15 days to plan a first away win in a year at Everton. Not having to carry a passenger in Fagan will do us no harm at all on this score.