9 minutes of madness fire Hull City to Wembley semi!
Fringe forward, Matty Fryatt rounded off an excellent day for everybody associated with the Tigers as the hosts cruised to a 3-0 victory over Sunderland in the FA Cup 6th round. Other second half strikes from Curtis Davies and ex-Black Cat, David Meyler, ensured that Hull reached the semi-final of England’s biggest domestic cup competition for the first time in 84 years.
Although both teams occupy bottom half Premier League positions, neither seemed deprived of confidence in a first half of honest endeavour and increasingly expansive play. Sunderland, having suffered Wembley heartbreak in the Capital One Cup final only a week ago, began confidently in possession, but it was Hull’s first foray into opposition territory that almost produced the game’s opening goal. After 4 minutes, Maynor Figueroa picked the ball up on the left wing. His seemingly innocuous cross sailed over Oscar Ustari’s head in the Sunderland goal as he helplessly watched it rebound off the woodwork.
The Tigers looked to build on their almost good fortune. With 9 minutes on the clock, the wily Sone Aluko teased his way through the visitors rear-guard only to pull his left-foot shot well wide of the target.
Moments later, Ahmed Elmohamady and pantomime villain Lee Cattermole became embroiled in fisticuffs when the home player tumbled too theatrically for the tough tackling Wearsider’s liking. Any abuse handed out by Cattermole was ultimately ill-advised though as the midfielder’s afternoon would be one to forget.
With 18 played, Sunderland carved out one their only opportunities in the match. Neat combination play between Phil Bardsley and Emanuale Giaccherini eventually resulted in a low driven cross from the former. The finish didn’t match the delightful build up play though as Ignacio Scocco blazed over from just 10 yards out.
The pendulum swung back in the favour of the home team and Fryatt, having already netted twice in the FA Cup this season, will only himself be able to answer how he didn’t add a third to that tally in the 25th minute. A deliciously whipped right-wing cross was begging to be headed home, but the forward couldn’t convert. Having escaped the attention of his marker, his diving effort missed the left hand post by inches.
There was to be a greater Hull City culprit than Fryatt however just after the half hour mark. Having magically turned away and been caught by Sebastian Larsson for a penalty, there was nothing bewitching about Aluko’s strike from 12 yards, a tame spot-kick that was comfortably saved by Ustari.
Some serious pouring through the history books has to be done to find the Tigers’ only previous experience of a Wembley FA Cup last four tie. Going into the break at 0-0, this would have been ample motivation for the home team’s players as the people of Hull were desperate for another London date to add to their diaries.
There was little evidence of it having the desired effect though, the second half a slow burner. Spaces began to emerge as both sides pressed for the opening goal, looking to counter the opposition with both speed and quality. Sadly, the quality wasn’t forthcoming and both managers pondered turning to the cavalry on their benches, the ineffective Yannick Sagbo hauled off for George Boyd.
The former Peterborough United player’s introduction was a positive one. In the 62nd minute, no Sunderland player tracked Meyler’s surging sprint from midfield. Cutting inside onto his left foot, his cross-shot couldn’t quite be converted by Boyd who had John O’Shea for close company.
The staunch resistance was finally broken with 68 gone though when set-piece specialist Tom Huddlestone planted a free-kick onto the head of the towering Curtis Davies. Having found his own scoring boots of late, he rose majestically and the powerful header soared into the top-left hand corner.
There was twice the reason to be jubilant shortly after as midfield maestro Meyler pounced on a blocked Cattermole clearance to punish his former employers. Running through on goal unopposed, there was plenty of time to overthink where to strike the ball, but the Irishman had the presence of mind to roll his shot past the despairing Ustari into the bottom left-hand corner. The celebration that followed was a memorable one. Alan Pardew had a sore head thinking about it.
At 2-0 with 18 minutes left, there was no looking back. Unfortunately from a Sunderland perspective neither did Cattermole. Blindly side-footing the ball towards his own goal with 77 played, it was silver service for a player of Fryatt’s calibre. Making the most of his unexpected fine-dining experience, the 28 year old collected the ball on the edge of the Sunderland box, picked his spot and watched the net ripple with satisfaction.
There was almost time for a fourth when Meyler – uncharacteristically losing his cool – swung wildly at a chance from 25 yards but the miss proved academic.
There will now be further blood, sweat and tears for those in black and amber stripes as they seek an elusive cup final. Next up: a galvanised league one Sheffield United side in a fiery Yorkshire derby on 12th/13th April. In a year that’s seen Hull announced as the capital of culture for 2017, some cultured football may just help them attain the Holy Grail in May.
Hull City (4-2-3-1): McGregor, Rosenior, Chester, Davies (c), Figueroa, Meyler, Huddlestone, El Mohamady (Quinn, 81), Aluko (Koren, 67), Sagbo (Boyd, 58), Fryatt.
Unused subs: Harper, Bruce, Faye, Henderson.
Scorers: Davies (68), Meyler (72), Fryatt, (77)
Sunderland (4-2-3-1) Ustari, Bardsley, Vergini, O’Shea (c), Dossena, Cattermole, Colback, Larsson, Scocco (Borini, 67), Giaccherini (Johnson, 67) Fletcher.
Unused subs: Mannone, Celustka, Cuellar, Bridcutt, Ki Sung-Yeung.
Referee: Mr C. Pawson
Man of the Match: Davies