Shane Long. You just knew that it would happen: you knew he would score or that he would have a defining role to play in the game; however, no one thought it would be quite like this.
After a decent win over in south Wales at Swansea, the Baggies faithful travelled up to Humberside in a more upbeat mood than could be expected a few weeks ago. However at quarter-to-five on Saturday, we had that all too familiar losing feeling mixed with a tinge of anger and shock.
Arriving in Hull just before midday, we joined a handful of other Albion fans in the centre, having a few beers before heading over to the KC Stadium. Taking our seats and listening to the team news, there was one change from our victory against Swansea, which saw Thievy come in for the suspended Jonas Olsson, therefore seeing us switching formation from last week. It was also good to see Liam O'Neil on the bench alongside fellow Academy graduate Donervorn Daniels.
Steve Bruce made one change from the team that lost 2-0 to Manchester City with Sone Aluko coming in for the benched Maynor Figueroa. With Hull having a strong base of ex-Albion fans there were cheers for Shane Long and boos for Curtis Davies. We were off.
The opening few minutes carried on from where we left off at the Liberty Stadium with Stephane Sessegnon firing the first effort of the game over the bar after only a matter of minutes. However, this was to be as good as the first half got for us. The next chance of note came from former Albion player Curtis Davies, who would have scored if it wasn't for Mulumbu’s intervention and clearance. The game was swinging between both teams, with neither looking like scoring, and Dorrans was next to take a chance, volleying the ball goalward toward to his Scottish compatriot Allan McGregor in the Hull goal, who had to dive left to save.
Just moments later Victor Anichebe was free, but Curtis Davies managed to slide in and get the ball. Davies had left the Albion in very unsavoury circumstances, but since his time in the Midlands with us, the Villa and the Blues, he has somewhat changed his game and has become an all round better player, whether this is because he is out of the big city lights or has just matured, is anyone's guess?
Hull should have taken the lead just before the half hour mark when James Chester headed the ball inches wide of the post after an impressive ball from Tom Huddlestone. Then literally minutes later came the defining part of the game when Hull City were awarded a penalty. This decision is one that will undoubtedly be discussed for the remainder of the season and my first thought was that Long had dived and retrospectively watching replays the following day, it is still clear. Long had broken away and on the right side of the goal, Craig Dawson 'clipped' him as Long later tweeted. There was little to no contact.
With a referee like Chris Foy, who the week previously, had made the headlines at Villa Park, a penalty was duly awarded. Long never appealed for the penalty, but he could have easily stayed up. In situations like this, it's always easy to lay the blame on Long, but I feel that blame should also be laid on the feet of Chris Foy as well; both individuals as bad as each other and another decisive decision that has gone against us this season. As for the penalty itself? Well Jelavic stepped up to the spot hit the ball, which was pushed away by Foster, only for Liam Rosenior to pick the ball up and head it into the back of the net. Albion fans were seething and rightly so. Chants of 'cheat' and numerous expletives were aimed at Long. Little did we know what would happen next.
Just minutes later, Long made sure he would make the headlines when he doubled the lead. Chester headed the ball towards Long which required the former Albion striker to volley it in the bottom corner of the net after some abject defending by the Baggies. Half time could not come soon enough. There was a lot to mull over in the break with Long being the main point of discussion and after another poor Albion first half performance, could we overturn the deficit and repeat the second half like at the Liberty Stadium?
After the break
The second half kicked off with Hull being the better team when seven minutes into the half Jelavic volleyed wide of the post. Just a minute later and at the other end of the pitch, Anichebe came close with a header following a corner, only for McGregor to keep it out. Following this Albion seemed to be playing with more vigour than the first and were putting the pressure on Hull, with Vydra now on for Thievy. However, Long nearly made it three when he rattled the crossbar with a shot from 20 yards that had beaten Ben Foster.
70 minutes into the game, the Albion could have been awarded a penalty when James Morrison was tripped up by Livermore following Steven Reid crossing the ball into the box. However Foy waved this away and then further misery struck before the end with Anichebe and McAuley both heading off injured, adding to an already large injury list. Even with the Albion pushing up right until the end and with a more attacking formation, there was to be no late goals in a rainy Hull.
From one unexpected victory in sunny Swansea to a gloomy controversial loss in Hull. They always say that a week in football is a long time and with Cardiff this Saturday, this is going to be a long week for us Albion fans. This game is not one that will be forgotten for a while and one that will forever tarnish what was once, for us, a very respectable striker.
Have your say on Albion's defeat here at Baggies Banter.