Millwall 2-0 Hull City ~ Match Report

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An emotional day at the Den for all concerned as the harsh reality that Barry Kitchener had died hit home properly as Millwall laid on a dignified and apt pre match celebration of the big man’s life and times at Millwall. It is a sad fact that it is only when someone dies do you realise you might actually miss them. Not in a physical sense with “Lurch” because for me, at least, I rarely saw him or thought about him, but he was interwoven into my Millwall memory banks and therefore part of my Millwall life.

The club, in my opinion, got it just about right. I have no time for organised religion (as you may have gathered) but if it helps out families and friends when a loved one has shuffled off this mortal coil then I can’t see the harm in it at times like this.

So with the pre match eulogies over it was time to get back to matters in hand and the visit of Hull City. More importantly it was another chance to bury the hoodoo of the missing home win for 2012 and with all due respect, the death of Barry Kitchener was in no way a pre-ordained sign that this would be the catalyst for a much needed three points to stave of the real threat of relegation.

A decent crowd of almost 12,500 settled down to take stock of Mr Jackett’s selection and the team lined up as follows, Taylor in goal, Craig, Lowry, Robbo and Smith across the back four, Henry, Abdou, Wright and Bouazza in midfield leaving the double ‘K’ strike force of Kane and Keogh to lead the line.

Resplendent in the all-white kit, another nod to Kitchener’s era, the Lions looked ready to shake the 1000th home win Jonah off their collective backs and bring home the bacon. But as referee Deadman got the game going we quickly realised that Hull were not going to roll over and have their bellies tickled. They were here to get their own season back onto winning ways and it was the visitors who threatened first when we fell asleep down the right hand side of defence and Garcia seemed to have all the time in the world to jink his way right into the danger zone but we had Taylor to thank as he made himself, to use the vernacular, big, and made a fine save.

It was a clear warning that Hull meant business and from that moment on we took hold of the game and started to dominate proceedings. Harry Kane was seemingly on a one man crusade against the Hull defence and partnered by Keogh, they really did look like a decent combination that we would do well to keep for the future. I know this precludes Henderson’s valuable contribution this season but these two could be the ultimate saving grace for us as we head for the finishing line and give us something to build on for the next season.

Bouazza, unfortunately, was getting stick from the crowd as he didn’t quite seem to grasp the urgency demanded and I think the rest of the team quickly picked up on the crowd’s displeasure, seemingly keeping him out of the play where possible. This meant Wright and Abdou doubled their work rate and this produced some sterling play from both of them.

James Henry was dipping in and out of the play but it was through him we got our deserved breakthrough about half way through the first half. A fierce corner kick, whipped in with venom saw Kane rise like a gazelle at the far post to head firmly into the net. 1-0! The release was amazing as the crowd exploded in a cacophony of noise.

Minutes later it was Kane again causing Hull problems as he picked up a wayward pass and hurtled towards goal. He cut across the front of the 18 yard line and hit a sturdy effort that had ‘keeper Mannone collecting low and away to his left.

It was Kane yet again who almost benefited from a smart move by the Lions when Craig, clearly fed up with Bouazza’s faffing around, took command of the ball on the left wing and sent over a delicious ball that had Hull’s defence all over the shop. Keogh got a touch to the ball that helped it on its way to Kane but the young striker, even at full stretch, could not get his boot to the ball at the far post and the chance had gone.

We had full control of the game by now but the elusive second goal would not materialise. We had a glorious chance to get the second when Kane hit a fierce effort that got deflected straight to Wright but with the goal seemingly at his mercy the classy midfielder struck his shot over the bar.

The half time whistle brought about much applause from the Lions fans as the team trotted off for a well-earned brea

During the half time interval we were “treated” to some excerpts from a new football related Opera?
Jocelyn Pook's football opera Ingerland which apparently features contributions from Millwall fans was played over the PA system and although my taste in music is as eclectic as the next man, I thought it was an absolute dirge that had no place at football at all.

The 'pieces' in question were supposed to be in keeping with the occasion and reflect what football and those who play the game mean to supporters. Absolute twaddle, in my opinion. It created a feeling of languor that was hardly in tandem with how we were all feeling. Whoever at Millwall thought this was a good idea needs to step forward and be held to ridicule as well as the “Millwall” fans who contributed to it. Pretentious clap trap, I suspect opera buffs will also demean this and tell you that opera is no longer what it used to be but in my opinion it is exactly what it used to be and that is its main problem.

It was touted as only previously performed at the Royal Opera House, it returns to the arena in which it was conceived. Yeah, right…like EE said, it was like a Stonehenge moment from Spinal Tap, all that was missing was the dancing dwarves…and for once, bye fer now Les managed to find 11 on the fucking amplifiers!

But notwithstanding the half time “entertainment” the Lions were soon back out and raring to go. Hull made a change to their attack but it is fair to say that Robbo and Lowry were inspirational at the centre of defence and they effectively snuffed out anything Hull had to offer. I also think, and please bear in mind this isn’t a slight at Forde, that having Taylor behind them has given them more confidence to play a more controlled game.

Bouazza was replaced early on by Feeney that brought huge cheers from the Den faithful and I think Bouazza was under no illusions that the jeers were for him and the cheers were for Feeney.

The worry though, for the most part of the half was that we seemed happy enough to let them have the ball and we use the counter attack method because they simply could not conceive to do anything with it that would cause us harm, but as the clock was ticking on the home fans got a bit more demanding as the one goal lead was rather too tenuous with so much at stake.

The counter attacking option deployed though did prompt a huge shout for a Millwall penalty as the front running Kane was unceremoniously bundled over in the box but referee Deadman nonchalantly waved play on, much to the vexation of the home fans.

But soon after this Deadman was given no choice but to point to the spot as another quick Millwall move saw Keogh get into a superb position only to be recklessly brought down by the overworked Cooper in the City defence.

Keogh dusted himself down, placed the ball and sent ‘keeper Mannone the wrong way as the ball hit the back of the net with some force. 2-0!! The relief and happiness around the Den was a cocktail of emotions that is too hard to describe. We knew as that ball was rifled home that the game was won, there was no way back for Hull now and it was time to wave goodbye to the 1000th home win albatross hanging around our necks.

The game was all but over and even when Smith looked like he had picked up a knock and Dunne was stripped off and ready to replace him, it showed the measure of Smith to want to stay on until the final whistle as this was a momentous occasion that he wanted to stay a part of. Poor old Dunney looked like the proverbial spare prick at a wedding, standing there with the fourth official ready to flash up the numbers on the electronic board only to see Smith wave away the issue of his injury.

We had a warm welcome on the 90th something minute for Shaun Batt who came on to much genuine applause as he replaced the superb Keogh but he barely had time to touch the ball as the final whistle went and the celebrations began.

I am not going to get all maudlin and claim anything ridiculous like this victory was all for Lurch and blah blah blah but it was a fitting end to an emotional day and I’ll leave it at that. The lads did a job, got the required result and we can move onto the next hurdle which is an away game on Tuesday night at relegation bound Portsmouth.

Another three points will surely make us safe from relegation and it would be nice to get them at Pompey so we can relax a bit for the last few remaining games…

See you all there

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