Tigers & Tykes
Hull City 1-0 Barnsley (Friendly)
It’s been pissing down all day. I’m on dog duty waiting for the wife to get back from Leeds for 5pm so I can head up north to the East Riding town of Kingston-Upon-Hull, a couple of hours drive it’s the Tigers v Tykes tonight, Championship side Hull City take on their Yorkshire rivals Barnsley of League One in a pre-season friendly.
Hull finished clear of safety last season in fifteenth after former player Liam Rosenior took over to steady a sinking ship left by Shota Arveladze in November, they ended the season losing just two of their last twelve games, but it seemed they couldn’t turn draws to wins, the Tigers drawing sixteen times in all last season, only Luton and Rotherham achieved more spoils shared.
For Barnsley, they were agonisingly beaten by Sheffield Wednesday in the playoff final at Wembley. A last-minute Josh Windass goal in extra time concealing the Tykes to another year in League One after Adam Phillips was harshly sent off halfway through that game, they finished fourth in the table and will be confident that under Neill Collins they’ll be there or thereabouts again come May.
She’s back, it’s 5:10pm, but better late than never, a quick kiss on the cheek and I’m straight out the door, down the A52 and A46 towards Lincoln where I get up to some speed as I aim to make up for some lost time.
Sat nav says I’ll be there by 7:15pm but I’m in no mood to hang around, the dual carriageway is empty and I’ve a full tank (for now) of petrol, the rain has stopped the sun is out and I’m listening to Bolton fan Paddy McGuinness on TalkSport who calls up an old friend in Sam Allardyce to talk about the good old days of Jay Jay Okocha et al.
By the time I’ve hit the A15 I’ve already got the predicted ETA down to 6:58pm as I pass a couple of protesters with placards saying ‘Save RAF Scampton’, the drive down these quiet roman roads of rural East England more pleasant than last week’s tedious long attempts down the packed M5 & M40, I’m on the M180 for a junction before back onto the A15 and the approach to the beautiful Humber Bridge, my first ever crossing in fact.
I’m in awe of its magnitude as I head towards the huge structure and cross over the wide Humber Estuary high up as the sun shines on the water glistening in one of my eyes as I look left but keep two hands nervously on the wheel. The road seems higher up than the sidewalk below and it wouldn’t take much to drop off the edge, I’m sticking to 50mph in the right-hand lane before reaching the toll booth where I’m charged £1.50 to cross.
It’s still a bit of a drive to Hull City’s MKM Stadium, down the A63 running back parallel with the river towards the city centre in the east before turning left onto Ferensway and then Anlaby Road. It’s leafy as I turn right at ‘The Old Tram Station’ onto Walton Street where there’s a huge car park which I enter £5 a car ‘cash’.
The short walk-through West Park is idyllic and serene before reaching the stadium, following the fans quietly chatting in amber and black replica tops, the back of the ground appears white panelled, looking like a huge modern leisure centre, I’m walking around behind the bland backdrop to the Chris Chilton Stand ahead of asking a steward if I’m going the right way.
“Any of these turnstiles” he says as I scan my phone barcode and enter through the electric barriers, up the short number of stairs to the concourse where I grab a quick wee and a Lion Bar washed down with a paper cup of Yorkshire Tea.
The concourse is wide and the attendance is sparse, a lower league opposition friendly won’t attract many tonight, but those who have come, have brought their kids, a real family feel in these parts, pleasantries in the air and not an ounce of animosity or trouble, just time with the loved ones to watch the game they love, just how it should be.
Tea cup in hand I walk out to the stand entrance and I’m impressed with what I see… My first time here and the stadium is beautiful internally, much better inside than out, the pitch green with darker green markings covering up the white lines used for rugby matches, the stand opposite arch roofed and two tiered, the rest of the ground sweeping around, bowl like with black and white seating the stand to the right bearing the words ‘Hull’ etched into the plastic in sloping italic font.
I’m up at the back of the stand with a fantastic view, two electronic scoreboards behind each goal, the tannoy music is pleasingly set really low, the sun brightening up the playing surface as the two sets of players casually warm up with a few stretches.
By now the stadiums well under a quarter full as the two teams walk out, Hull lining up in amber and black stripe fronted shirts but their back is completely black, as are their shorts and socks, Barnsley in Real Madrid all white, red numbers on their behind as the Tigers fans sing along to Elvis Pressley’s ‘Can’t help falling in love’ for kickoff.
The Yorkshire Galactico’s start well, they keep the ball and out pass their hosts slowly playing out from the back with some good one and two touch stuff, I’m trying to spot the Referee as a break of play allows him to swap shirts, his black top clashing with that of Hull’s kit, he’s now in sky blue and much easier to see.
It all has real expectable friendly pace, neither side pressing much but Hull slowly begin to pick up their performance, I like their simplicity of style, 4-4-2, they get it wide to their wingers and quickly, two target men up top who they try and deliver crosses into, nothing too fancy, nothing too overcomplicated.
Quicker into their stride Barnsley have a couple of sniffs early on, the round chested James Norwood lets fly from the edge of the area brilliantly tipped around the posts by Ingram, he’d earlier tried to catch the goalkeeper off his line with a cheeky long-range effort.
Hull gain a foothold though, and in particular through right back Lewis Coyle and centre midfielder Ryan Woods who start to dictate the pace with regular smart interchange of passes, their roles to get it to wingers Will Jarvis and Ryan Longman as quickly as possible, on 32 Longman is sent away down the right, crossing low to Jarvis at the back post who taps home the opener.
Hull end the half the better team and might have added to their advantage, Oscar Estupinian, awkward and gangly up top, heads over an effort that flicks off the top of the crossbar.
At half time Barnsley change a significant number of players but Hull stay the same, the pace slows to pedestrian levels but the better side by now are the home team, ever encouraging is their speed to seek out their wingers who look to cause trouble to the opposition full backs.
Tykes sub Fabio Jalo tests Matt Ingram from a free kick but it’s the best that Barnsley have to offer, the Tigers do make eleven changes with fifteen minutes remaining but that only increases their intensity, the blonde haired Harry Vaughan who I last watched a year ago playing for Republic of Ireland under 19’s very busy, very bright, very bubbly, unlucky not to have assisted Manchester City loanee Liam Delap for a goal late on, he should have done better to see a close range effort blocked by Jack Shepherd when it looked easier to score.
The wingers of Hull City stood out for their pace and direct approach, Will Jarvis lightening down the left and Ryan Longman a constant thorn down the right, late on Harry Vaughan shown just as much technical ability and buzz as those two, the Hull way this season very much looks like getting it wide, the old fashioned way, the way that Liam Rosenior wants them to play, I just hope it doesn't become too predictable.
At right back, skipper Lewis Coyle was exceptional and I liked the look of Ryan Woods in midfield and Andy Smith at centre back who both kept things simple and did their jobs well, whilst I was expecting to be seeing really good things from striker Oscar Estupinian I was largely disappointed. Yes, you can see how he scores goals but much of his approach play has a lot to be desired.
For Barnsley, down the left in the first half Nicolas Cadden looked decent whilst against his old club Herbie Kane ticked things along in midfield, in the second half youngster Jean Claude Makiesi looked busy but the side were largely a level below what I found Hull to be.
I’ll be interested to see how Hull kick on from last seasons improvements and I certainly see enough to suggest they can be a danger to most teams in the division next season. Whilst anything in the Championship is a guess between 1st and 24th I certainly see hope that they can at least trouble the top six, whilst Barnsley are orgainised, solid, well drilled and will out play most of their opponents in League One, they’ll have a sniff at going up if they get off to a good start which will undoubtedly build confidence levels higher after their playoff exit in May.
Hull City: Matt Ingram (Thimothee Lo-Tutala 75), Lewis Coyle (Cyrus Christie 75), Sean McLoughlin (Jacob Greaves 75), George Cox (Brandon Fleming 75), Ryan Woods (Jean-Michel Seri 75), Ryan Longman (Allahyar Sayyadmanesh 75), Oscar Estupinian (Liam Delap 75), Xavier Simons (Regan Slater 75), Andy Smith (Alfie Jones 75), Benjamin Tetteh (Ozan Tufan 75), Will Jarvis (Harry Vaughan 75).
Barnsley: Ben Kilip, Kacper Lopata (Fabio Jalo 46), Liam Kitching (Jack Shepherd 46), Nicholas Cadden (Alex Joof 46), Herbie Kane (Aidan Marsh 46), James Norwood (Charlie Winfield 46), Oli Shaw (Theo Chapman 46), Barry Cotter (Trialist 46), Nathan James (Hayden Pickard 83), Adam Phillips (Trialist 46), Luca Connell (Jean Claude Makiesi 46).
7:45pm Kick Off. Tuesday 18th July 2022, Hull City Stadium, Kingston upon Hull (att 4,548).