On the balance of play on the day, a draw was in my opinion a fair result from a match that while hardly a classic, was a decent battle between two strong sides and an intriguing contest to watch. Stoke created more chances than Hull, but it was Marlon King’s quality finishing that earned the Tigers their goal. Incidentally, King is the only player I have seen yet this season that was able to match Abdoulaye Faye physically, and was able to win a fair few of their clashes, both on the ground and in the air. Hull as a whole, were the first team I have seen who have arguably outfough Stoke physically, they won at least half of the aerial challenges, particularly the centre back pairing of Turner and Zayatte who largely outfought Sidibe who struggled to make too much of an impact on the game. The pressing game Hull play also made it very hard for Stoke to have any time on the ball, and definitely hassled some of our players.
That being said, we did get a deserved equaliser in the second half. I was disappointed though that we seemed to settle for a point, not really going full-bloodedly for the win. Phil Brown must be commended for his tactics in definitely setting out to claim a result, unlike West Brom last week, who undoubtedly were looking to sneak a 0-0 draw. Hull on the whole were tactically good, interestingly leaving three men forward when Stoke won long throws, making it harder for us to flood the penalty area and cause the usual level of chaos. Delap’s throws themselves were not quite at his best, but were still a very potent weapon, and it was only the brilliance of Myhill in the Hull goal in the second half that denied Fuller’s header from one, and stopped Stoke from taking all three points.
All in all then, an indifferent result and performance from Stoke, but one I would probably have grudgingly taken before the kick off. We certainly look like a very hard side to beat at home, which is good news for our survival chances as the season goes on with home form being so important. next up is Derby in the Carling Cup quarter final on Tuesday night, and there is no reason whatsoever that we can’t get back to winning ways with that one against a side that lost 3-0 to Burnley yeaterrday, former Stokie Martin Paterson scoring twice.
Thomas Sorensen: He didn’t have huge amount of difficult things to do, but aside from being beaten by King’s excellent finish, he dealt well with everything thrown at him, with the exception of missing the odd cross he came for. 6
Andy Griffin: Coped well against the dangerous Geovanni despite playing with a broken hand. He got caught out once or twice though, ultimately resulting in him giving away the free-kick that led to Hull’s goal and getting booked for it. 6
Leon Cort: Leon made a decent return to the side and dealt well with most of the aerial balls he has to face. He was a little wasteful at the other end of the pitch though, heading over one half chance and failing to stretch Myhill too much with another late on. 7
Abdoulaye Faye: Abdoulaye was as ever solid for Stoke despite coming up against a tricky adversary in King. He possibly saved us with a good block late on. He admirably played despite looking like being sidelined with a leg injury. (If it was bothering Abdoulaye chances are it’s nothing more than a double break.) 7
Tom Soares: Soares is yet to rediscover the excellent form of his full debut against Tottenham. Yesteday he got forward well, but seemed to check back too often and his delivery, while generally good, was at times a little lacking. 6
Amdy Faye: A largely nondescript performance from Amdy, didn’t do much wrong, didn’t do a huge amount to write home about either. He frustratingly failed to hit the target when he got a good shooting chace though. 6
Salif Diao: Salif was voted man of the match on the day, and aside from the odd loose pass I’d agree with that. I highlighted him as being key to dealing with the threat of Geovanni, and he managed that very well, making one extremely good tackle when Hull were breaking quickly. he also seems the most keen to have a go from distance though he was wayward yesterday. 8
Rory Delap: Famed for his throws, they were slightly off par yesterday, though they still caused havoc. He did well otherwise though, beating men well on the wing and getting a good cross or two in. 7
Mamady Sidibe: Mama failed to quite live up to the heights of his winner last week against West Brom and was not as effective is usual in the air, thouugh he did win the crucial flick-on to put Fuller in when the penalty was won. 6
Ricardo Fuller: While quiet for large chunks of the match, he did the business hwen it mattered, winning the penalty and just about dispatching it. 7
Michael Tonge (sub): Tonge put in another good substitute showing, almost creating a goal for Delap just moments after coming on. He must surely be pushing for a start in the next game. It’s a shame he is cup tied and will not be able to face Derby on Tuesday as it is the sort of game he could really impress in. 7
Key battles appraisal:
Ricardo Fuller v Michael Turner
For the most part the Hull defence was on top of the Stoke strike force, but were hesitant once or twice and were eventually punished when Fuller broke through them to win the penalty. I’d call this one a tie.
Salif Diao v Geovanni
I highlighted this clash as the one that would be most important to the outcome, and Diao definitely came out on top, limiting Geovanni to scraps. A definite home win here.
My man of the match: Salif Diao
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