Coca-Cola Championship Matchday Twenty Five: Hull City 2-0 Barnsley

First things first. The officials cost us a point, not all three. One horrendous decision by the linesman carrying the yellow flag turned a drab goal-less draw into a sorry 2-0 defeat.

It was certainly not the right occasion to give referee Peter Quinn his first ever Championship game- the Cleveland official’s last match was a League Two encounter between Bury and Macclesfield on New Year’s Day. Maybe it was his lack of experience that enabled his assistant to over-rule him on the penalty decision that gave Hull a lead which was never likely to be threatened and the astonishing red card handed to Stephen Foster at the same time.

That though will probably overshadow the fact that this was another insipid away day display from Barnsley and shows why they have won just two of their last 19 trips on the road- and they were back to back.

At Nottingham Forest, The Reds put in a magnificent performance against a side unbeaten on their own patch for over a year and only a ridiculous penalty decision knocked them off the path to a deserved victory. Today at the KC Stadium, against a side before kick-off who were the joint lowest home scorers in the Championship, all a ridiculous penalty decision did was mask a performance lacking in passion, imagination and most importantly, shots on goal. Hull keeper Brad Guzan was making his third appearance since joining on loan from Aston Villa and had yet to keep a clean sheet. He barely had a save to make this afternoon and was only “tested” by two long range efforts from Adam Hammill, one in the first half and one in the second, which barely forced the American to move.

The team selection could have had a lot to do with that. Whilst it was pleasing to see Jacob Butterfield rewarded for his cameo appearances in recent weeks with a first start since November, the fact that it was along with four other midfielders in a tight midfield five dulled the optimism somewhat. It certainly left Garry O’Connor to plough a lonely and ultimately frustrating furrow up front. The Scotsman, barely got into the game and was continuously aimed for with long high balls- wasn’t the reason O’Connor was brought in ahead of Andy Gray to stop the temptation to go long? The only impact O’Connor made was to the referee’s ears and the assistant’s arm as he continuously moaned about decisions going against him and must have set a record for the amount of times he was flagged offside in the first half.

In truth, The Reds did start off pretty positively, as with Butterfield, on the ball, the movement looked good and he initially linked up well with O’Connor, but routes to goal were continuously closed off. The Reds got to the edge of the Hull area on plenty of occasions but amazingly seemed intent to score the “Arsenal” way and pass the ball into the net. Even Nathan Doyle and Hammill, two men not scared of having a go whenever the goal is in sight were reluctant to try and test Guzan.

Hammill had another disappointing game, and seems to have dipped alarmingly since speculation started to rage about his future. This week he was linked with Blackpool, Cardiff and Nottingham Forest, but his game has been off since the victory over Portsmouth in November and he has only scored once since. Today he saw enough of the ball but did very little with it. With easy passes on, he tried to take on his man…. And didn’t once succeed. When the subject first arose about an imminent January departure for the Scouse winger, Oakwell cringed, now I suspect most fans would not actually be that bothered as it would finally put the matter to bed.

Hull were not that much better than Barnsley as they continued to squander possession cheaply, but after a very dull first half they created the best chance of the game. On 55 minutes, Robert Koren got in-between Jason Shackell and Matt Hill too easily, bursting into the area before unleashing a rocket that smacked off the inside of the post, then off Luke Steele’s head and away. The ferocity of the shot left a “dirt” mark on the post and considering it was tucked right on the inside, it indicated just how close it was to going in.

That was about it though, until the game changed on 64 minutes. Matty Fryatt, a well known nemesis of Barnsley broke into the area where he was met by Foster. They both tussled for the ball, before Fryatt got away and was denied by a smart stop from Steele. No drama, no appeals, and no reaction from the referee. But all of a sudden, after Steele had intervened, the linesman started flagging and referee Quinn pointed to the spot. The Barnsley players and fans- who it must be said had a clearer view than the linesman- were incensed. But worse was to follow. After consulting with his assistant, Quinn flourished a red card at Foster. It was the centre half’s first straight red card since his days at Crewe in 2005. The decision must have been for a professional foul, although there was no foul and Foster certainly was not the last man. To make the matter all the more incredulous, the linesman seemed to signal to a protesting Hammill that the penalty award was made for a push, when actually both players were shirt tugging! After all the controversy Fryatt coolly stepped up to slot the spot kick straight down the centre of the goal.

That extinguished any hope of Barnsley taking anything from the game and as Kieran Trippier dropped back from midfield to help out the defence; gaps appeared for Hull to exploit. McLean should have scored when he got past Bobby Hassell to race clear one-on-one with Steele but the Reds stopper stood up very well to block the effort with his legs.

The incompetence of the officials was summed up in the final moments when Nolberto Solano-, who had already been booked, totally took out Hammill to stop him racing clear and only a free kick was awarded, before seconds later, a yellow carded Shackell, clipped Anthony Gerrard before stupidly kicking out at him, and again after consulting with his assistant gave the Reds skipper his marching orders. With no other recognised centre halves currently at the club, it leaves Reds boss Mark Robins with an incredible defensive headache ahead of next weekend’s game with Swansea.

Now with even more space in the Reds backline, Hull finished the game off when Koren wriggled his way to the by-line and smashed his effort over Steele and into the far top corner.

Hopes of a top half finish are disappearing by the week, and with what looks a reasonably comfortable eight point gap between the Reds and the relegation zone, these next four months could be a very painful stumble through mediocrity.

Player Ratings:

Luke Steele – Made an awful flap at one cross in the first half but was rarely tested. Had no chance with Koren’s effort that smacked the post, or the penalty but his positioning was poor for Koren’s 93rd minute goal. 6

Bobby Hassell – Had a very tough time against Hull’s pacy Cameron Stewart but never stopped chasing and harrying him. Didn’t get forward enough. 6

Stephen Foster – Was coping well with McLean and Fryatt until the incredible decision to award a penalty against him and send him off. 7

Jason Shackell – It shows how good he has been that an average performance can be described as his worst for the club. Often hit too many aimless balls when usual his passing is a major strength. Frustrated, he blotted his copybook more with the late kick out at Gerrard that resulted in the skipper’s first red card since 2007. 5

Matt Hill – Was good going forward and made some promising runs but very suspect defensively. Allowed Fryatt to get past for the penalty incident and then was made a mug of by Koren on the by-line for the second goal. 5

Kieran Trippier – Failed to get in the game. Sent some decent crosses in, in the second half but a very quiet game. 5

Hugo Colace – Cut his hair, but it had no effect on his game. Again an anoumous presence in the midfield. It was amazing he was kept on for 88 minutes. 4

Nathan Doyle – Seems to be getting better with every game. Was good in the tackle and help break up play. 7

Jacob Butterfield – The only player in a red shirt who looked capable of creating anything. Showed good touches and played some glorious passes out to the wing. Just his team-mates were not on his wavelength. 7

Adam Hammill – Either he stops or he goes, but the decision need to be made and now! His game is suffering and he looks nothing like the player who was terrosiing teams at the start of the season. 4

Garry O’Connor – Was marked completely out of the game and had barely any impact. Spent most of the game offside or on the floor. 4

Substitutions: 

Andy Gray (for Colace 88) – Not enough time to make an impact and by this time the game was over. N/A

Unused: David Preece, Alistair Taylor, Goran Lovre, Jim O’Brien, Steven Bennett Jeronimo Neumann.

BarnsleyBoy's Man of the Match: Jacob Butterfield- the only player who looked capable of winning the game for Barnsley. But he couldn’t do it on his own.

HULL CITY: Guzan, Dawson, Ashbee, Harper, Fryatt, Chester, Koren, Solano, Gerrard, Stewart (Barmby 66), McLean (Devitt 88).
Subs: Duke, Zayatte, Simpson, Bullard, Evans 

Most Impressed by Hull’s: Cameron Stewart: Very lively winger with a great touch. Gave Hassell a tough afternoon.

Ref Watch: Peter Quinn: His first ever game at this level and boy did it show. Consluted his assistants on every decision, and they were wrong! Why are Barnsley always the expierment for new refs?? 2

Npower Championship results: Saturday 15th January 2011:

Bristol City 0-4 Middlesbrough

Burnley 0-0 QPR

Coventry 0-0 Sheffield United

Doncaster 0-3 Reading

Hull 2-0 BARNSLEY

Leeds 4-0 Scunthorpe

Millwall 2-1 Ipswich

Norwich 1-1 Cardiff

Nottingham Forest 2-1 Portsmouth

Preston 1-1 Leicester

Swansea 3-0 Crystal Palace

Watford 3-0 Derby

Barnsley lie in 16th place in the Npower Championship with 33 points from 25 games.

We are 9 points off the Play-Offs, 13 points off the Automatic Promotion Places, 16 points off First place and 8 points above the Relegation Zone.

Up to 15.1.11

Next Up:

At Oakwell:

Npower Championship Matchday Twenty Six: Barnsley v Swansea City Saturday 22nd January 2011 Kick-Off 3pm.

Tickets:

Adults - £16.00
Senior Citizens (Over 60) - £11.00
Juveniles (Under 18) - £11.00
Juveniles (Under 12) - £6.00

On The Road:

Npower Championship Matchday Twenty Seven: Doncaster Rovers v Barnsley Tuesday 25th January 2011

Tickets:

Adults - £23.00
Senior Citizens - £16.00
Young Adults (aged 17-20) - £16.00
Juveniles (aged 12-16) - £13.00
Juveniles (aged eleven and under) - £9.00
Disabled Supporters - Contact the Oakwell Box Office for more information.