Friday 05-08-11, 7:45pm, Watched on Sky Sports 1
First game of the season, live on Sky Sports as well. Infrequent updates will appear but the main post will be the match report after the final whistle.
Small preview: Sky treat us to the company of Peter Beagrie all season - a depressing development - but the presenter Simon Thomas has always been one of the better products of Sky Sports News (better than some of the brain dead people they've hired recently)
On to the actual football. Both Hull and Blackpool were teams I followed last season, Hull due to a northern relative (and a cheap shirt bought a year ago), Blackpool due to Holloway and their performance in the Premier League last year. Both have promotion aspirations. Hull appear to have strengthened well and are 'more balanced' according to the interview with Pearson prior to kick off. Holloway has managed to keep a lot of his squad from last season, and although few expect them to return at the first time of asking, it would be disrespectful to write them off at this stage. I think Hull will use the home advantage to good effect, winning this one 2-1.
Full Time: Hull 0-1 Blackpool
Match Report: Blackpool showed good spirit in their victory against a promising Hull, who despite having a plethora of chances, lacked the killer instinct in front of goal.
Hull started the game well, playing good, incisive passing football. Chances were few but the hope was there. Cairney hit the bar from a free-kick for the Tigers after 11 minutes, Gilks not being given credit for his good attempt to save. The game then became disjointed, with neither side holding onto the ball for any length of time. This 20 minute period of play was summed up by Ian Holloway's cries of 'hold on to it for f*ck's sake'. Indeed. Following Holloway's rallying calls on the half hour, Blackpool picked the tempo up. They were transformed from hopeful hoof-ballers to clever and canny passers, and they began to take control, with Kevin Phillips hitting the outside of the post which a fizzing shot. People would presume that Dele Adebola does not fit well into a passing side, but he worked well up front for Hull, using his strength well and allowing Fryatt a couple of half-chances. Robbie Brady looked a tricky winger as well, constantly probing and creating opportunities.
The loss of Adebola just after half time seemed to take an option away from Hull. They had no target up front. Gulacsi in the Hull goal made a couple of poor attempts at punches, nearly handing Blackpool the lead. Just before the hour Fryatt had his first opportunity. He should have got a shot off but was denied by a good Baptiste tackle. Brady then broke speedily down the right hand side, putting a delightful cross along the ground, which was just out of the reach of a sliding Nick Barmby. Despite a missed header from Taylor-Fletcher at the other end, it was Hull who continued to create chances. A golden opportunity opened up for Fryatt, as he was through on goal on 68 minutes. The ball broke to Fryatt on the edge of the box, past the Blackpool defence. His second touch was very heavy, taking him too close to the keeper (Gilks), who was able to slide and block the tame effort. Barmby skewed the rebound over the bar. A big let-off for the Tangerines.
The game began to open up. Fryatt created an opening down the right and slid another cross past Barmby, who could have scored twice were his legs a few inches longer. A minute later, Fryatt again squandered an opportunity to put the Tigers in front. Brady had worked another clever opening, pulling the ball back from the byline, only for Fryatt's shot to be blocked superbly by Craig Cathcart. On another night, Fryatt would be leaving the ground with the match ball, but he seemed slightly off the pace tonight.
On 80 minutes though, Hull were punished for their failure to put the ball in the net. From an unlikely position, Taylor-Fletcher played a clever one-two, receiving the ball in the air on the far side of the box. With the ball waist high following the first bounce, he rifled a shot across Gulacsi into the top corner of the net. The Blackpool faithful had been repaid for their trip across the Pennines, with the team celebrating in front of their loud and loyal supporters. Following the goal Brady continued to create chances, but the end product was lacking. In stoppage time the ball broke for substitute Simpson, who got under the ball with his shot and sent it way over the bar. This summed up Hull's evening in front of goal. The whistle blew and the game was Blackpool's. Perhaps not dominant, but they were able to take their chance when it came, unlike the beleaguered Hull forwards.
Verdict: Both sides should be challenging for the playoffs come May next year. Hull showed promise in midfield but need to sort out their finishing. Despite the booing at the final whistle, Hull fans should take the positives from the game, as they still have 45 remaining in a long season. Blackpool again were defensively frail but not as exposed as last season. On another night, Hull would have taken the points.
Man of the Match: A closely fought contest between two players that impressed me. Robbie Brady on loan from Manchester United looked a real handful. He created opportunities, beat his man often and always looked to take his man on. The only reason he does not get the coveted award (well, there isn't one) is that the end product was just not quite there. The goalscorer for Blackpool is my man of the match, as Gary Taylor-Fletcher showed his quality with a hard-working performance in midfield. He outshone the captain Barry Ferguson and his goal was a real quality finish. Blackpool will do well to hold on to him this transfer window.
Stat Attack: Had Kevin Phillips scored for Blackpool, it would have been the 5th time in a row that he scored on his debut for a new club. Alas, he didn't, so he has to make do with 4 debut goals. Bad luck Kevin.
Match rating: 6/10. A good encounter lacking goals and chances. The football itself was nice and enjoyable, but few chances failed to make this the exciting start to the season that many desired.