Sunday, 29 January 2012

How not to approach a game against Crawley Town by Hull City

Made another trip to the KC at the weekend to watch Hull play League Two promotion contenders Crawley Town. Knowing what I did about Crawley having experience their antics whilst they won the Conference last season and also this season in League Two, I was expecting them to put up a very tough test for Hull.
In the local media all week, I felt Mr Barmby had been very complacent in his comments - perhaps not realising that Crawley have only lost about  five times in two years. There is a reason for this - they are a good team.
Don't get me wrong, I cannot stand their manager Steve Evans for his antics on the touchline and the amount of rubbish he talks in the media but the way he gets his team up for a football game is fantastic.
Back to Mr Barmby, based on his comments in the media, I could have written a script for what was to unfold during the game. Crawley play a mixture of direct football and slick passing football, their staff - especially Evans and his assistant continually berate the 4th official, linesmen and referee and wind up the opposition bench and crowd by doing this. Their players know when to waste time and when to commit little niggly fouls. Basically they're a very hard team to play against.
Walking into the ground and hearing the Hull team selection (7 changes), I thought even more that a Crawley win was on the cards. Their front three of Tubbs, Barnett and Watt pulled apart the Hull back four and Sergio Torres ran the game from the centre of midfield. Pablo Mills and Claude Davis didn't give Matty Fryatt anything in the air and Hull loanee Josh King looked rather surprised at the physical nature of the game.
Crawley dominated the first half and despite Barmby bringing on Aaron Maclean at half-time, the Hull performance didn't really improve. Tubbs was sent clear and finished as he does week in, week out to give Crawley the lead they deserved. To be honest, they could have had three or four. Hull never really looked like scoring, a few scrambles in the box towards the end of the game was the most they could offer.
Barmby didn't have any real options on the bench either, choosing to completely rest Cameron Stewart and Liam Rosenior amongst others.
Not taking anything away from Crawley, they played really well and deserved to be in the next round. It will be interesting to see how they fair against Stoke in the next round and even more interesting to see how Tony Pulis lines his Stoke side up. As for Hull, presumably, a better performance will follow against Doncaster on Tuesday.

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