Bullard's class sparks Hull as 'crazy game' brings hope
Hull City 3 West Ham United 3
Monday 23 November 2009
This may have been a strange and even crazy match, as the bemused West Ham manager Gianfranco Zola put it afterwards, but it was also exhilarating, and it has been a long time since Hull City supporters have felt that particular emotion. The stadium will be noisily full for the visit of Everton on Wednesday, and the successful recreation on, and consequently off the field, of the spirit which saw the Tigers make such a remarkable start to their life in the Premier League last season may prove a vital first step in preserving their top-flight status.
What it comes down to, of course, is having a go, or as City manager Phil Brown used to put it before seeming to lose his nerve – and according to some, the dressing room back in January – being brave enough to risk losing. That means playing two up front, with wide men to get behind the opposition, and accepting the danger of being caught on the break, as Hull were twice in the opening ten minutes on Saturday.
Their response was rousing, and if they were fortunate with both the goal that put them back in the game – a free-kick from Jimmy Bullard which was deflected twice on its way past Robert Green – and in the penalty which sent them into the break ahead, it was hard for the neutral to begrudge them . Just as it was to deny West Ham, who more than played their part, the justice of a second-half equaliser.
Amid the incident and excitement, two performances shone out. Bullard, who, after nine months out injured must almost be playing on memory, produced an extraordinary display. Available in space whenever a team-mate was in possession, he harnessed City's energy and gave it focus, while for the Hammers, Scott Parker, pushing forward more often than previously this season, was equally influential.
Hull City (4-4-1-1): Duke; Mendy, Zayatte, Gardner, Dawson; Garcia (McShane, 57), Marney, Bullard, Hunt (Geovanni, 85); Fagan, Altidore (Vennegoor of Hesselink, 73). Substitutes not used: Myhill, Kilbane, Boateng, Barmby.
West Ham United (4-4-2): Green, Faubert, Da Costa, Upson, Gabbidon; Collison, Parker, Behrami (Hines, 60), Stanislas; Franco (Jimenez, 69), Cole. Substitutes not used: Kurucz, Kovac, Spector, Nouble, Daprela, Hines.
Referee: M Clattenburg (Tyne and Wear).
Booked: West Ham Stanislas, Franco, Hines, Jimenez.
Sent off: Hull City Mendy (56).
Man of the match: Bullard.
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