Lawrence seals the win…
I was a little concerned beforehand after Hull won last weekend and West Ham lost (to the Potters) that we would face a team spurred on by a great win over Fulham to give them a glimmer of hope in their survival bid, much like the prisoner on Death Row learning the electricity was going to be cut off to the Prison due to non payment, Hull must have thought they had caught themselves a break. Unfortunately for Hull, any optimism was soon short-lived as they were outplayed and beaten by a Stoke side who looked far from their own best, the cheque for the electric just got lost in the post and once more Hull and the prisoner looked sheepishly down the barrel of the inevitable.
Stoke’s line up was much the same but Fuller was back from illness and rewarded with a start alongside the revitalised ginger one. The first half saw some good football and we duly went 1-0 up after a great flick on from Kitson found McShane wanting and Fuller outpaced and outmuscled the oompah-loopah lookalike Hull defender to finish neatly with the outside of his right boot past the despairing Myhill.
The second half saw Stoke sit back and a 15 minute spell of Hull possession, though the visitors, including the usually effective Bullard looked clueless as they simply passed the ball in front of the trademark two banks of four until desperation saw a pass back to the defence to launch the ball towards Higgy or Huth and we all know what happens then. The second goal came in the 90th minute with all the attackers on the pitch involved, a great flick on from Sidibe found Tuncay who passed to Matty, who slid a lovely ball through to Lawrence to score his annual brace against the Tigers, he may not get the chance next season, Hull may be relegated, he may leave or maybe even both?
The crowd were pretty subdued and I hope that we have not started to become the fans we have long despised who simply turn up and groan with each misplaced pass, belittling teams of similar stature, that’s not Stoke and that’s not welcome. The Hull fans were pretty vociferous to be fair and now the tanned one and his comedy sidekick Duffen have been rightly cast aside you won’t find many of the Potteries contingent wanting Hull to be relegated, though taunts of ‘we’ll never see you again’ to the tune of Blue Moon had to be sung, we have a reputation to uphold don’t you know!
Manager Rating – 9 – TP kept much the same team and thankfully gave Ric a starting place as well as keeping faith with Kitson up front. The substitutions were sensible and Mama did well to help the team protect their lead and in the end was a major part of the move to set up our second goal on the day. I would like to congratulate Tony on another amazing achievement, once again securing top flight status for another season – I’m not sure people give him half the credit he deserves and I’m sure Hull and many other top flight teams would love a fraction of the organisation, discipline and determination he instils in every team he sends out week after week.
Sorensen – 7 – Tommy had a very quiet day and perhaps had plenty of time on the day to reflect on how he will have to work twice as hard to keep the eager Begovic at bay who will no doubt get a chance pre-season if not in the final handful of games left this season. Had the blocked shot covered in Hull’s only spell of the game, before Whelan cleared.
Huth – 7.5 – Man Mountain Robbie had a decent enough game at the back and now we have secured our safety I hope Pulis makes that position a priority so the big fella can get back into the middle of the defence where he is nothing short of his nickname – the Berlin Wall.
Faye – 7 – I was glad to see Faye back in the side though he still doesn’t look like the player of last year, I was surprised that Shawcross wasn’t given this low pressure home game to introduce him back, especially given Faye’s injury from last week.
Higginbotham – 8 – Higgy always performs in the middle and Pulis faces a real dilemma when trying to bring Shawcross back in with Higgy deputising so well and Collins improving with every game on the left, still, these are the decisions every manager hopes to have within their squad.
Collins – 7.5 – So much better with each passing week and making himself heard on the pitch too. He still gets dragged out of position too easily but wasn’t as bad this week – I am interested to see how he does with a good Pulis pre-season under his belt or whether Pulis goes out to find another Left Back.
Lawrence – 8 – Liam looked better today, he wasn’t great against West Ham in my opinion, despite the singling out for praise Tony gave him last week. He looked to be working hard and made himself some space a few times to counter his pace issues. A brilliantly taken goal, Liam will be wishing he could play Hull every week given his success against the Tigers, but who will he be playing for?
Whelan – 7 – Glenn gets a 7 because of his block. The rest of his game was pretty uninspiring and he was rightly hoiked off on the hour to be replaced by Deano who will most likely keep his place for next week.
Delap – 7 – Rory’s games are pretty faultless of late, he did nothing of note going forward and did what was expected tracking back. He has been a great servant to the club and been a part of something very special here, I think we’ll see Rory involved less and less next season as we build on the squad.
Etherington – 9 – Man of the Match - Matty back to his best. I have a Hull friend who used to wax lyrical with tales of Mendy’s pace, how he was the quickest thing since sliced warp speed – Matty rang rings round him and despite giving him a head start would pass him and get dragged back by the Hull full back. Such was his success he thought he would rub salt in the wounds by giving Kilbane a game too as he swapped wings with Lawrence throughout. I hope the England scouts have been back and seen him as I’d love for him to get his chance in the upcoming friendly given the unfortunate timing of his injury last time around.
Kitson – 8 – Kits looks to be taking his 4th chance with Pulis by continuing to perform in the ‘Mama’ role, his flick on’s were many and cleverly directed and his work on the deck was as good as ever. He visibly tired towards the end and was duly replaced. I’d like to see Kits being given until the end of the season in that role to play for next season.
Fuller – 8.5 – Ric was his ever useful self, though was hampered by an ankle injury he picked up when scoring the opener on 6 minutes. That said, even with the injury and up to his withdrawal at half time, the Jamaican duly kept hold of the ball and as always helped us keep that little bit further up the pitch.
Tuncay – 7.5 – Tunny looked lively when he came on after half time. Full of energy as always though fluffed a great chance to make it 2-0 when he dragged a shot wide from 35 yards with the goal gaping. Very nearly connected with an overhead kick until Boateng stuck his head in. The Turk was visibly upset and special mention goes to the Hull players and staff who reacted exactly as they should when such a thing happens, Mr Wenger and his team should pay close attention to the lack of referee abuse in the aftermath, Mendy even going over to console Tuncay.
Whitehead – 7 – Deano’s had to wait for his chance and looked lively when he came on for the out of sorts Whelan, was close to getting put in on goal shortly after his introduction though the pass was intercepted. I imagine Dean will retake his slot in the middle at the expense of the Irishman on Sunday.
Sidibe – 8 – Mama came on in the 85th minute and just added that extra layer of protection that Kitson was struggling to give us. A great flick on in the move that ended up with the scoring of our second goal. This may well be Mama’s role now, coming on in the last 10/20 mins to help protect a lead.