Often Partisan

Hull Reflections

A deflected strike from Jon Toral was enough for Birmingham City to beat Hull 1-0 at St Andrew’s as Gary Rowett’s men reignited their playoff chase in front of the Sky cameras. Hull hit the post and the bar in the first half and had claims for a penalty in the second as they pushed hard for an equaliser.

While there was an element of fortune in the manner of Blues’ victory last night it’s the mark of a successful team when they get (as Steve Bruce himself would say) “wor bit of luck” and can capitalise on it. Jon Toral, restored to the lineup instead of Diego Fabbrini made the most of his recall, spinning with the ball 360 degrees just outside the box to create some space before his shot took a wicked deflection off Curtis Davies and past the outstretched hand of Allan McGregor.

For me Toral showed why I honestly believe I’d rather have him in the team over Diego Fabbrini; his skill on the ball was excellent, his movement off it gave Blues another dimension going forwards and he should really have had a second when he headed just wide from a David Cotterill cross.

Although he tired badly in the second half the Welsh winger again showed why he’s the best crosser the club has. His ball for Toral’s header was an absolute peach, full of whip and pace and in just the right place to cause uncertainty between the defender and the keeper. Jacques Maghoma on the other wing didn’t have the same threat going forwards but put in a monster shift keeping the Hull right side pegged back. He teamed up well with Jonathan Grounds – who I know has detractors but put in the kind of steady performance which is what you need from your defenders week in, week out.

The main worry for me is Clayton Donaldson. Once again, his tireless running was on show and although he didn’t make the scoresheet he was only denied by a stunning reflex save from McGregor when he made an audacious attempt with an overhead kick. At this moment with Vaughan out injured and Brock-Madsen lost in the treatment room somewhere Blues have no out-and-out striker cover; should he pick up another injury while away with Jamaica we are absolutely done for in that position.

Although Paul Robinson picked up plaudits for a good display at centre-half (and being lucky not to give away a pen), I think Tomasz Kuszczak was the difference at the back. The double save he made in the second half was as good as any you’ll see this season – his keeping and the woodwork were essentially the difference between the two teams.

Going forwards Blues are back in the mixer but without a game this weekend the pressure will be back on at Blackburn and Wolves to pick up points to remain in touch. If Blues are to finish in the playoffs I think we need 20-24 points from our remaining 12 games – the win last night was huge but we need more before we start thinking about revving up the promotion bus.

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81 Responses to “Hull Reflections”

  • weaponsguru says:

    I, probably like many others, was biting my nails a bit for the last 15 minutes or so.
    I agree, we rode our luck a fair bit. I thought they were by far the better team up until we scored, and obviously the majority of the second half, they were pushing for the equaliser, but I didn’t really think they were any better than us after our goal. Sure, they had a lot of the ball and more “attempts”, but we were playing a different game to them by then.
    Their “penalty” was interesting. Yes, the ball struck Robbo’s arm, but it was only a fraction of a second after it had been kicked – he didn’t have much chance to move it.
    I noticed that none of the TV pundits made any mention of the “penalty” we could (should?) have had in the first half, which was very similar circumstances.
    All in all, very pleased with the result, no bookings (for either team), I think the ref made a few mistakes, but none to the obvious advantage or bias to either team.
    Last night I had a feeling (and a few quid) that we’d win 1-0 (and 2-0), and that Toral would get the first goal.
    Today is the first time I’ve got the feeling that we WILL finish in the Play-Off places.

    Well done boys – keep up the good teamworkand KRO!!!

    • Des says:

      fantastic report, agreed with every word, Kuszcak has been great signing and so pleased Cadd is back, Cotterill did tire but what a crosser!! Becks without the looks and he has proved great replacement for Chris Burke!

      Toral on fire while Donaldson was incredible!


  • RichardM says:

    Nailed on penalty for me, but I’ll take that slice of luck. Very similar to the Cardiff game, we got ourselves in front and then shut up shop second half. It’s not the most attracitve style of play, but it forces the opposition to play to our tune. If Greece won a European Championship playing this way, who’s to say we can’t make it to the play-offs and beyond?

  • Peter bates says:

    A half decent performance but if we are honest a scoring side would have beaten us quite comfortably but let’s take the win because the next games away will be difficult scoring a big problem will be interesting to see how gr deals with it apart from toral nobody else looks like scoring

    • Texas Pete says:

      Except for that Effort from Don. I am looking forward to seeing it.
      Scoring however is a season long issue for the team. We are overdue a scoring flurry, so let’s hope it has been saving up for the last part of the season.

  • The Sceptic says:

    Thanks to the £10 ticket, last night was the first time I had been at St Andrews since Rowett took charge.

    My observations are:

    1. The difference in the two teams was in the 50/50 balls. Blues wanted them, and won them. For me it was like watching the Alex McLeish team that went unbeaten for a record number of games in the Premier League (2010?).

    2. Torol was in a different class to anyone else on the field.

    3. I’ve read on here, much praise for Donaldson. O last nights performance it is totally warranted. This was summed up on 87 minutes when he ran 100 yards to the corner to chase down and win a long clearance against two defenders. How many other centre forwards would do that? Very very few I would suspect.

    4. Whilst I appreciate there was not that much at steak I was disappointed by the attendance, especially when it was £10 a ticket (which is as much as I can justify spending right now).

    5. People were speaking of it being a good atmosphere last night. I thought it rather flat for a night match played with so much passion. But, maybe I still have nights like the Ipswich semi-final, Vile 3-0, Vile quarter- final and West Ham semi-finals wins in my head. Those nights had real atmosphere with the concrete moving up and down under your feet!

    More £10 nights please BCFC

  • Jaffa says:

    Dan do you know why we didn’t try to buy Toral?Good game last night.

    • almajir says:

      Didn’t or couldn’t?

    • atko says:

      Why would you buy a player that is already playing for you without a contract, no ties & not costing the earth? Given our current financial situation I would say Blues would be extremely happy with the situation right now. A deal isn’t necessary yet.

      • jonno11blue says:

        Wrong, we should have approached Arsenal to buy him in January, even if we’d utilised the whole of Gray’s £3.75m instead of wasting £1.5m on a luxury player and wages for poor loan signings. In the summer he will be snapped up by another club and we’ll lose out just like we did with Kiernan and Tesch because our board p***ed around.
        The club should be planning for the future not just saying “well we’ve got him now” we will look at the situation at the end of the season.

        • atko says:

          LOL! You think the whole of Gray’s transfer fee would have bought Toral? I don’t think so & then you have to pay him remember!! He’ll be on a lot more money at Arsenal than Gray was with Blues. Where is the money going to come from to buy him & then pay him week in week out? TTA will not keep giving Blues money right left & centre until they own us & rightly so because nothing is definite yet & I’m not convinced they want to own us anyway! Blues know the situation with Toral, they know his value, his wages, his availability. Calls for us to sign him are crazy. The club know what is possible & needed & when!

    • BhamCityJulian says:

      Toral should be playing in Prem. Let’s hope it with us but I expect an established Premier club is where he’s destined if Arsenal decide to sell

  • StaffsBlue says:

    I said a week or two ago that I think the points totals to finish in the play-offs could be pretty high this season… possibly 80+ and there’s still a possibility of that happening. With us on 54pts, Sheff Wed 55pts and Derby 57pts… and 36pts to play for, it’s going to be a right old ding dong. I think we should be aiming for 5th place, then if we just fall short, we might still grab that last spot. Last night proved we’re capable.. we just need to keep the first XI fit.

    • Shirley Blue says:

      I don’t think it will be as high as 80 unless one or two of the teams around us suddenly become far more consistent than they have been 76 points should do it. 12 games left so we need to win 6 and draw 4 – similar form to that we have shown over the last 10 games. I cant see us getting any more than that tbh.

      • StaffsBlue says:

        I said that it could be as high as 80, not that it would be. Both sides above us are quite capable of reaching that total, but that’s not saying they will.

        • atko says:

          I guess it all depends on who has to play who in those remaining games. If some of them are against each other then that can make a big difference. Haven’t we got to play at least 3 teams that are in there?

  • StaffsBlue says:

    Old Brucie made me laugh after the match. “We created enough chances to win two games and we dominated the game really. We did everything but score, then we’ve lost to a deflected goal. But there’s still a lot of points to be played for and a lot of water to flow under the bridge yet. Birmingham have still got all the top sides to come here so I’m sure they’ll do us a favour.”

    Yes Steve… we certainly owe you a favour after we beat you by a deflected goal. Not lol.

  • swissjonny says:

    Great result.Toral will I am afraid be going either back to the Arsenal or elsewhere at the end of the season.He is out of our league currently-which is clearly a great shame..Donaldson is a true grafter but his scoring rate is a worry as someone pointed out what next if he gets injured? Fab up front or maybe Viv? Much as Donaldson has every right to play international football we really could do with him staying fit and fresh-with our small squad it only makes the situation worse. Anyway its a whole lot better fretting about promotion rather than bricking it about relegation!!! KRO

    • atko says:

      I think Donaldson is your old fashioned centre forward…part of a strike partnership, despite the way he holds the line superbly week in week out. That’s the only way he will score regularly IMO. Last night for me the best two players on the pitch were Donaldson & Toral. They were outstanding. That’s what you call defending from the front! I do think a striker will be the number one priority in the summer. We have to take pressure off the defence. We can’t snatch a 1-0 win like last night all season & we certainly have to start taking the game to the teams we should be beating & hitting the back of the net with some kind of consistency.

  • Dave Mann says:

    A very good result , a good performance and six wins in seven home games in reality is playoff form so the doom and gloomers had better think again , a draw would have been a fare result to be honest but that’s just what the doctor ordered and suddenly were on the up again , three points off fifth and our season is far from over . KRO

    • jonno11blue says:

      The trouble is Dave the away form’s tipped substantially. Like you I go to every game and we have been poor in the last 3. We should be taking 3 points off teams like Bristol and Rotherham even on their turf. Even before that we were letting teams take points off us, just look at Deepdale.

  • As you say Texas Pete scoring is our problem , we play a different game to others but at the end of the day the tables don’t lie , not that we havent got goalscorers in the team we just aren’t scoring enough up front , We have the sixth best defensive squad , and the fourteenth best striking squad in the league , which normally would give us a position of about 10th , but with true grit and match winners ,and a defensive setup that would make Custer proud we are seventh , With more goals we would have lift off , but hey , what a performance last night ………..Super Blues ….

  • rhees says:

    Very impressed with work ethic shown last night,still give the ball away far too much but love how they fight to win it back.
    I also enjoyed listening to Garry say how he’s got both short and long term plans gave me hope and confidence kro

  • Hillfield Blues says:

    A great time to produce our best performance of the season.These playoff charges are all about timing and finding your form when it matters most.What a boost to our confidence and self belief that we can actually get there and GRs reaction at the final whistle told the story of how big that win was.Just when it looks like we’re running out of steam we come back with a fighting performance like that.Tremendous!!

  • ChrisG says:

    That is how we need to play every game now til the end of the season, we had a bit of luck on the penalty but once again another rubbish ref who missed far too much imo.
    If only we could put in a bit of consistency we would be right up there & strangely we could still get promoted automatically, although I won’t be holding my breath too much on that lol. Our next 4 games could define our season, we have a fairly tough game away to Blackburn next tuesday where I would take a point, then Wolves, Fulham & Charlton where if we can’t get 9 points from those 3 games we don’t deserve promotion.

    • StaffsBlue says:

      Penalties are swings and roundabouts Chris. We had one given against us in the QPR game that was never a penalty. I get pi$$ed off with this tactic of throwing the leg in front of the defender and falling over. Refs almost always miss it. So, the fact that we got away with one last night (and the one we got against Cardiff) doesn’t trouble my conscience one bit. :)

      • ChrisG says:

        According to Robbo the ref said he did see the hand ball last night but felt it wasn’t intentional, which was the correct decision, but saturday against QPR from where I was in the upper stand I had a perfect view of that & if that was a pen then Daniel Ivery will be the next queen of England….next to Elton John obviously lol!!!!!!

        • StaffsBlue says:

          When you move your body to block a ball, you arm goes with it unfortunately. At the speed shots come in at, you have a split second to react. In the old days, it was hand to ball, not ball to hand like it is today. The clue is in the word… Handball.

  • Wingman Blue says:

    Agree with you, Hillfield about the “deflected shot”. What hasn’t been mentioned is how we out-reckless Hull – time and again we robbed them as their highly-structured game plan was pulled apart by smas-and-grab.
    Well done Team and Manager!

  • David L says:

    If – and yes, it’s a big if – we did get promotion, do you think Toral would stay (if we could afford him – another big if)?

    Yes, of course we’re not a club of Arsenal’s stature, but given the choice of being a regular starter and a fan’s favourite as opposed to a bench warmer and occasional player in the League Cup, which would you go for?

    Now there’s a fantasy – Don and Jon : next season’s Vardy and Mahrez!

    • StaffsBlue says:

      Even if we don’t get promoted, if Arsenal loan him out again next season, surely we have a good chance of being the club they choose again.

  • Shirley Blue says:

    Don’t know what the attendance was last night but it didn’t look great. I am sure there will be at least another 20,000 extra as usual who find they can make the effort if we get to Wembley.

  • Mikeyboy says:

    Two great decisions by Rowett bringing back Caddis and Toral. Robinson, Morrison and Kuszczak massive influences yet again. Those who are desperate for Robinson to fail eating humble pie yet again

  • Mineheadblue says:

    I also thought that Torals shot was going in the bottom of the other corner and I’m not convinced the keeper would have stopped it. I would sell my granny if we could get Total permanently. Kro

  • I reckon we should have got 4 points last night , an extra 1point for the look on Steve Bruce’s face at the end of the match , I never thought brucey would give such a look , us being his old club KEEP RIGHT ON…..

  • Dan Hickman says:

    The celebration of Toral’s goal last night showed how popular a lad he is with the rest of the squad, and I think that hasn’t helped our recent form, a tight knit group of players that fight for each other all of a sudden have 3 or 4 new faces expecting to walk I to the side. Thought it was a good performance last night, and hopefully will be a springboard going forward. Kusczak has pulled of a few memorable saves this season, been a really good signing. Cotterill showing again you don’t have to beat the man if your cross is good enough. Hopefully he will come into full fitness and form just as we need him the most

  • Jonathan says:

    I was down the Blues last night,great battling Performance,they worried me sitting so deep,but it worked,Toral was a joy to watch,the work rate and fitness of the team was incredible, Hull kept probing and probing,but blues refused to buckle, great win,great night out.

  • OhhhDearRemi says:

    Great win but disagree with the comments about Toral Vs Fabbrini… Both on the pitch at the same time as Donaldson and Cotterill can make a fluid front 4 that will take the pressure off our defending unit of 6, id take the extra ‘No10’ over a pressing winger any day of the week… Some huge games coming up and i hope the players are ready for a scrap at the right end of the table!

  • With a view regarding attendances,how about putting Liverpool to the sword 9-1 a few weeks later Port Vale dealt with 7-2.Both these games were watched by just over 17000,we had endured a long journey to getting ourselves back to the top (entrance fee 2/6 and 1 shilling for us young un’s)enter stage left the great Arthur Turner.I think you have to look at the cost of football today and realise that supporters have also been to some to very dark places over the last few seasons.I think with the right kind of backing of a forward looking board we can regain our place at the top table.Ps there was nothing like hearing over 50,000 Brummies singing Keep Right On tumbling off Spion Kop like a tidal wave

  • Texas Pete says:

    To be on travk for 78 points we need to win the next game Blackburn (a) then we can draw the next Wolves (a). Then we must beat Fulham at home. That just puts us one point above the pace needed.
    I am looking for a 9 point run to push into 6th place.

  • Lich Blues says:

    I have been disappointed with the attendances at St Andrews for years. OK it was oh so miserable under Lee Clarke but what more can Rowett and his men do to get people through the doors? Like Dave Mann & Shirley Blue I go as many away games as possible and have a season ticket. I accept that not everyone can make that sort of commitment due to work or finances but our overall attendances are very poor. Suddenly everyone came out of the woodwork last season when we had Albion at home in the cup. If we got promoted the ground would be full with people paying a fortune to watch us play Man Utd etc. I just find it very frustrating because a really decent crowd roaring us on can make all the difference. KRO.

  • Blooflame says:

    Maghoma is singly the worst player in a blues shirt. I findit difficult to find just what he brings to the side. He consistently lost the ball; gave the ball away; or just passed well off the mark. Rowett must see something in training, but whatever it is it doesn’t transfer to the games. It’s the only negative from the whole episode. The fact that this team have learned or are learning, to sit on a lead (with ease I wold say), shows just how far they have come and indeed how adaptable they are to changing tactics quickly and to play to instructions. Well done chaps, a thoroughly professional work out!!

    • RichardM says:

      Sorry Blooflame but that’s a ridiculous comment that needs to be challenged. Look at the work rate of Maghoma, like Donadlson defends from the front, hassles, wins possesion in the last half and sets up attacks and can score goals. His final decision making needs to be worked on but for a free transfer in the summer perhaps the best bit of transfer business GR’s done during his time at Blues.

  • steve says:

    Don’t know how often you go Blooflame,but Maghoma has had a decent season despite last nights performance.

    • .KC says:

      He has had an inconsistent season. Some good some bad. Last night he was awful spending most of the game chasing the opposition back coming forward. When he had the ball he did nothing with it.

  • Bromsgrove Blue says:

    I agree Mags can be very frustrating at times. He seems to try and over do its and loses the ball cheaply which puts the pressure back on us. Perhaps GR can work on this on the training ground and get him to retain the ball better. Kro

    • Mitchell says:

      Blooflame. Whichever player has the ball-it will be for only seconds. You are right in saying Maghoma loses the ball but that goes for MK,Gleeson,Davis Grounds,Caddis,Fabbrini etc. We cannot as a team from 1-11 retain the ball hence the lowest possession rate of any champ.team. This is 100% down to our quality. What we have is a manager that gets the best out of them and in crude terms smash and grab results. If we had money like any of the top 6above us then apart from Donaldson and possibly Morrison the rest would be fighting for the bench. All down to what we can afford.

      • Hillfield Blues says:

        Agree.The amount of times we lost possession because some players touch was too strong I lost count of.The gulf between our players and Hull’s technically was obvious and we are at the bottom of the league for possession and pass completion so this isn’t new to us.It just makes it all the more remarkable that we are just 1 poiint off the playoffs and they all deserve a massive pat on the back instead of people’s criticism.

      • atko says:

        You have to have a top rate football brain too. You have to be able to switch from a defensive mentality to a forward/attacking mode instantaneously. When you are defending under pressure for sustained period of time playing a system like we do that invites that kind of pressure you are automatically thinking defensive mode. To switch suddenly to attack mode & create movement for us to break quickly enough requires 100% focus from the first to last whistle. The Hull game was probably the best performance this squad has put together in large parts. Donaldson & Toral’s movement was superb. Everyone did their job & we could have had a couple more like the Derby & Ipswich games if we had applied ourselves a little better on the odd occasion where chances were there.

        • Hillfield Blues says:

          Good shout.For me the performance of the season without a shadow given the points you have rightly made.The transition of turning defence into attack is what we did very well and makes us a dangerous side.

  • Dave Mann says:

    Toral for me would walk in to the top six teams to Mitchell along with a fit Cotterill , I know it’s down to us to pick up the points we need but a little help today from the teams up against Derby, Sheffield Wednesday , Cardiff and Ipswich would be most welcome because for me it’s us and those four teams fighting for 5th and 6th with the top four fighting for the automatic spots and that’s how I see it so an exiting 12 games to go and it’s squeaky bum time . KRO

  • Mitchell says:

    Daniel.Any news coming out of HK? Appeal date not far off now.thanks.

  • Dave Mann says:

    On the flip side , IF vile lose at home to Man City today and either Newcastle , Sunderland or Norwich win then it’s 11 points from safety with 9 games left … Please let’s all pray that this is the case come 5pm , it then would be really close to justice for all Bluenoses and pain and heartache for all Viles.. Oh the tears will flow on both sides of the express way . :-) KRO

    • Mitchell says:

      Let’s hope for a wonderful afternoon Dave. 11pts off safety is just about curtains. I have advised the Samaritans to guard the local canals around Villa Park!

      • Dave Mann says:

        Yes Mitchell , when that day arrives the whole city will be crying tears , most of those ofcourse will be tears of joy and the odd few will be tears of depression , oh how the heart bleeds for them . KRO

  • Andrew says:

    Some comments about Toral being a better player than fabbrini, well that could be the case but to say that the money spent was wasted is just not true. I think it was great money spent, Toral was benched for a few games which has probably only going to drive the kid to try harder to get game time, its in his character to try. So even if it has spurred Toral on to get even more out of him then surely theres logic in that.

    • jonno11blue says:

      Yes Toral has been substituted or benched for Fabbrini and look at the results. Against Sheff Wed we were winning Fab’s gives the ball away and they score. He was poor when he came on against Bristol and Rottherham, did nothing at Loftus Road and although he made the goal against a very poor Bolton side his performance was nowhere near last seasons. Remember the impact he had against us playing for Millwall last season. That’s the type of performances we should be seeing.

  • Dave Mann says:

    Couldn’t agree more Andrew. KRO

  • Bromsgrove Blue says:

    Fabbrini has been a bit disappointing since joining us in the January transfer window and no way can he take Toral’s place in the starting line up.I hope he can turn his form round to replicate last season’s form. Villa now 4nil down, surely now thrown in the towel.Kro

  • Texas Pete says:

    WTF it might be true that Toral is better in the team than Fabrinni after all he has had all season to fit in and show his skill. Some fans jump to prefer complaining criticism about players rather than praising them. What’s up with that? Fabrinni joined in January and apparently can be blamed for our losses since then even though he has played a bit part so far. A best strategy for failure is booing players when they lose the ball (result every one gets booed) or booing the whole team unless they are winning. The fact is that Fabrinni is our player and Toral is ultimately helping Arsenal. Also Blues are successful as a team despite being maybe less than the likes of Toral and they are that way because of the essential confidence and drive they develop. Give Fabrinni a chance to settle in and maybe he can set up the Don for another tap in for one of our very few goals. FFS we just beat the best team and are in with a shout at the playoffs.

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