Tough going for Hull
PHIL Parkinson had a terrific record as the manager of Colchester United, but he is finding life far more difficult at Hull City.The Tigers may have a big, new stadium, backed by big crowds and a large playing squad, but Parkinson is still waiting to find the formula for success on Humberside.
By Carl Marston
PHIL Parkinson had a terrific record as the manager of Colchester United, but he is finding life far more difficult at Hull City.
The Tigers may have a big, new stadium, backed by big crowds and a large playing squad, but Parkinson is still waiting to find the formula for success on Humberside.
Hull begin tonight's clash trailing their Essex hosts by 10 points - few would have predicted that before a ball was kicked this season!
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The days of Parkinson masterminding some marvellous cup runs at Layer Road - FA Cup trips to Blackburn, Sheffield United and Chelsea, and a Carling Cup win over then-Premiership West Brom - will always live long in the memory, as of course will last season's successful promotion campaign.
But there will be no room for sentiment tonight. The U's players will be desperate to outwit their former manager, while Hull's improving side will be intent on clambering out of the bottom three.
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Defender Michael Turner played a blinder when he last visited Layer Road, in the colours of Brentford last season. Turner denied the U's with a number of goal-bound blocks, and goal-line clearances, as the promotion-seeking Bees held on for a 1-1 draw on April Fools Day.
Brentford were pipped by Colchester for the second automatic promotion slot, and were duly knocked out of the play-offs by Swansea. Turner left Griffin Park over the summer, as did several of his team-mates.
He is now a key man in Parkinson's new regime at Hull. In fact, Turner was the unlikely goal-hero on Saturday, netting an injury-time equaliser in a 1-1 draw at Norwich.
As a result, he has been named in the Championship's Team of the Week, ironically alongside one of his rivals centre-halves tonight, Pat Baldwin, who scored his first-ever senior goal in the 3-0 win over Southend.
Parkinson was delighted that his side stole a point at Carrow Road. He said: “The main talking point for me is the spirit our players showed, and the performance they produced on what is really a Premiership ground against Premiership players.
“I thought we deserved at least a point. It's not ideal our rivals winning (Leeds and Barnsley). Obviously we would have preferred all the teams around us to lose.”
Despite Hull's well-earned draw in Norfolk, they actually slipped to 23rd in the table, due to Barnsley's last minute winner against Ipswich, and Leeds' 2-1 success at Plymouth.
The Tigers have yet to recover from their dismal start to the season, which included five defeats in the first six league matches - the one “bright” spot was a goalless draw at Ipswich on August 19.
Injuries have certainly not helped. Target man Jon Parkin, the only Hull player to have scored more than two goals, is sidelined with ankle ligament damage, sustained during the morale-boosting 2-0 home win over Wolves from earlier in the month.
Former York and Macclesfield striker Parkin is the top scorer with six goals, followed by Craig Fagan, Stuart Elliott and Turner, who all have two goals.
It will be a special night for front-runner Fagan, whose career really took off following his move to Colchester from Birmingham City. He should play down the right wing tonight, with Elliott patrolling the left and former Reading and Ipswich striker Nicky Forster ploughing a lone furrow down the middle.
Another former U's player will be keen to figure against his old club. Left-winger Mark Yeates played a big part in the U's promotion campaign, on a season-long loan from Tottenham.
The Dubliner is on a similar loan deal at Hull, but he has spent much of his time on the substitutes' bench, and was not even in the final 16 at Norwich.
Parkinson's attempts to sign experienced striker Neil Shipperley, before the transfer deadline for emergency loan deals last week, was scuppered by a failed medical. The Sheffield United 32-year-old is struggling with a calf injury that has kept him on the sidelines all season.