The Iain Dowie era began with a deeply disinterested Hull City performance and a deserved defeat snatched from the jaws of victory. The loss leaves Hull City gurgling around the Premier League plug hole, effectively five points adrift of safety with eight games to play.
The build-up to the game was suitably shambolic with the team coach stuck in a traffic jam and relying on a police escort to make it on time. And, apparently, loan strikers Amr Zaki and Jozy Altidore were both ruled out of contention late on with mystery injuries.
So the eleven which Dowie carded was harbouring a worryingly light defensive line-up of Bernard Mendy, Paul McShane, Stephen Mouyokolo and newly-appointed captain Andy Dawson, as well as Kevin Kilbane on the left-wing, Dean Marney continuing in midfield and Caleb Folan (remember him?) thrown back in up front.
Weak links all over the park, in other words, but even so we took the lead midway in the first half through a Craig Fagan shot which brushed Folan in the crowded penalty area and then beyond David James.
For a while our makeshift team looked moderately comfortable – until we allowed a corner to trickle past a succession of City players across the goal-line and a Pompey man at the back post touched it in from two yards. Yet another soft goal conceded from a lack of organisation at the back.
And from then on we were truly abysmal, despite Folan poaching another goal against the run of play midway though the second half. It was a good through-ball from sub Richard Garcia, and nice control and a cool one-on-one finish from City’s forgotten man.
Folan looked as rusty and ineffective as you’d expect after such a long time out of contention, and he strayed offside with infuriating regularity, but when it mattered most he delivered the goods. The same could not be said for half a dozen others who fell well short of what was needed.
Just as City’s rained-upon support revelled in the notion that we’d sneak an undeserved three points away from home, the late capitulation kicked in.
In short: Jamie O’Hara curled a wonderful free-kick into the corner, then virtually from the restart their winger tore down the left and the cross was directed in by Kanu lurking in space in the box.
And that was it. Cruel to lose so late, but no one could honestly say we deserved to win. The relegation battle isn’t over yet, but it will be soon if we produce many more performances as timid and listless as this.