Tue Dec 28th WW 1 (Miller 33) v Brighton & Hove Albion 1 (Hart 3) 3pm
Are we becoming draw specialists...and coming from behind? Oops, not at Cardiff, now at home. Set piece corner from the East corner of the North Bank, in the 3rd minute and Brighton score with Newts unable to clear off the line.. At least the crowd got behind the players, who generally all played much better than they had been doing. Kenny was definitely up for it and his goal was a great solo effort. Man of the match - Seol Ki-Hyeon - closely followed by Joleon Lescott and Kenny Miller for keeping going the whole match. Carl Cort again lost too many 50:50 challenges - and, in not jumping for the ball, is not likely to. The ball wasn’t given away as much as we have been with Seyi George on the bench. Shot of the match came from Keith Andrews bringing off a terrific save from Kuipers in the 80th minute. Andrews had quite an effective game and worked hard. He touched on Seol’s pass to Kenny, beating the offside trap, for the goal. Craddock was right on top of his game, and apart from the goal, neither he nor Newts were particularly challenged on the right, but Andrews’ Oakes’ and Newts’ collision was farcical. Butters headed on unchallenged by Carl Cort, Hart was in front of the 3 Wolves players and just flicked it past them. Joleon handled McCammon very well, and even the much nimbler Leon Knight when he came on. Craddock also had a good header in the opposing area.
It certainly looked as though Glenn Hoddle had had the team on the training field, especially at attacking set pieces, but maybe not defensive set pieces like corners! However, not much of the inventiveness paid off; some neat passes found the player running in a different direction, and some great crosses didn’t find the mart. Oakes finally came and caught a cross but remained rooted to his line for the whole match (even when he fell over Newts) Let’s have a goalie who can dominate his area - bring back Matt.
Glenn “..we have conceded a sloppy goal that shouldn’t happen on the playground never mind here”. “Hear, hear!”
Mark McGhee had warned that he expected to pick up something at Moli, and he did.
Before the match, Steve Bull presented certificates for Duke of Edinburgh Awards performances by some young Wolves fans
Sun Dec 26th Cardiff 1 (Jerome 17) v WW 1 (Miller 75) (1pm ko)
Are we becoming draw specialists...and coming from behind? On Sunday I think many of us were a bit in the dark about the match - the commentary kept referring to “the Wolves player” especially when the goal was conceded by “the defence” but didn’t seem to know their names (again!) but did say they were all over the place. Oakes blocked the first shot from Jerome but it spun up allowing him to bundle it home, and apparently the centre backs stood watching. Well Sky came to the rescue. A long ball forward was headed on by Peter Thorne winning the header against Craddock; Jerome easily beat Joleon to the ball, and his shot bounced up off Oakes which he followed to make sure of scoring.
Cooper and Newton were subbed at half time by Clydey and Cams, with Newts suffering from the club’s sickness bug..
Our equaliser came from a great corner from Keith Andrews, headed forward by Carl (a shot?) and put away by Kenny facing away from goal but hooking it backwards into the net. in the 75th. 51% of the possession still didn’t pay off from 17 shots crosses and 8 shots and Glenn Hoddle was disappointed with only the one point whlle Cardiff manager Lennie Lawrence blamed Oakes for Cardiff not taking all three points.
Player scores courtesy of Cardiff Wolf:
Oakes 8 Newton 4 Craddock 6 Lescott 6 Naylor 7 Olofinjana 5 Andrews 6 Cooper 4 Kennedy 8 Cort 7 Miller 7
although the summary from The Times on line has:
Sat Dec 18th WW 1 (Cort) Crewe Alexandra 1 (Lescott og)
Carl struck a 92nd minute equaliser from Hi Kyeon Seol’s cross to rescue us and take us to 16th, still 9 points off the playoffs. Carl hit a great heaeder falling away from the goal after Seol has mesmerised the defence. The Sunday Times gave Seol Miller and Newts top marks. Earlier, in the 39th, Dean Ashton flicked on a David Vaughan free kick and it went in off Joleon. Again, our defence was caught fast asleep as Vaughan tapped the kick to the left of the penalty area leaving Ashton’s run across the box totally unmarked. Ashton is rumoured to be off to the Premiership when the transfer window opens. He also hit the woodwork
Kenny Miller started his first match for ages, with Glenn saying he wanted to resurrect his career (E&S Friday). He also said he had been impressed with Kenny in the post match interview. Kenny had hit the post just before the Crewe goal from a great pass from Newts.
The match stats showed we had 57% possession and a staggering 35 crosses with 17 attempts on goal
Cort spares blushes is at http://www.timesonline.co.uk/newspaper/0,,176-1408884,00.html
Sat Dec 11th Watford 1 (Helguson) : WW 1 (Olofinjana)
Another match in the change strip for Glenn’s first match in charge. He restored Lowe (Clyde injured) and Naylor, moving Sparky back into midfield. 2,500-3,000 travelling fans were there to see.
A free kick to Watford in the first minute and Joleon heavily involved showed Watford’s initial heavy pressure but our usual quality of defending didn’t cope with a cross from the right hand side, over Craddock’s head from a free kick left Heidar Helguson to score in the 5th. Oakes had no chance.
More pressure followed, but we get a good break in the 13th - Naylor cross led to a good chance for Deano - and begin to get back into the game. George Andrews on 107.7 describes Watford as a very poor side, so hopefully we can improve. We get increasing share of the play, leading in the 20th to a fine build up from the right, a lay off to Cooper and hard cross by Kennedy but Sturridge hits the post. Coops took a heavy challenge in the 20th.
Of the first 35 minutes though, we only manage 34% possession. Within 10 minutes though this had improved to 46%. Was it Glenn’s presence in the technical area, shouting instructions, that made the difference? Seemed to be. Something certainly did, for the corner came over, crossed into the area, Lowe headed it back and Seyi George with a great strike from the inside right position equalised in the 35th. Watford promptly went back on the attack but Wolves quickly respond. A hard and low cross from Cooper, came off Neil Cox, but Lee palmed it round, and another corner for Wolves. From the clearance Naylor got himself booked on 42 with a clumsy challenge, and, as the last man, could have been in worse trouble. Naylor moving in the inside left picked the ball from Seyi George and keeper Lee tipped over the bar. A minute later and Sturridge has another chance. On half time, Deano looks to have damaged his hamstring again.
However, he came out for the second half ok, so no changes. A quick attack by Wolves led to a Cooper corner but that was cleared by the goal-scorer Helguson. On 55 minutes Helguson broke clear, and could have had Dyer in, but Helguson slipped. Although Watford have a couple of useful attacks, we now have 52% of the possession.
Seyi George by now was making a considerable claim for man-of-the-match, getting forward, tackling back and taking a major part in the game. In the A terrific strike by Helguson brought a great save by Oakes, but Dyer couldn’t quite get to the rebound. From the corner, Helguson has another great shot and nearly a goal but Naylor on the post saves it with Oakes beaten.
On 67 minutes, with much more time to make an impression, Hoddle had spent five minutes coaching Kenny Miller in the technical area before sending him on for Sturridge. Kenny was caught offside from a good pass, and with Glenn trying to encourage Naylor to get forward.
A free kick in a dangerous position was easily cleared by the Wolves, and a minute later Watford’s pressure continued but Dyer had a very poor shot.
Kenny still wasn’t getting great service to make an impact. Hit and hope ball from Craddock was one example. Lescott pulled off a great tackle when it was 2 on 2 in the 72nd with Watford, again having more of the play.
73rd minute and shots by Kennedy and back in by Lowe, who wins a corner in front of the Wolves fan and Seol starts to warm up. He comes on for Kevin Cooper. 3 minutes of added time and nearly one of the few second half chances but the cross to Cort was way off mark.
Match statistics gave:
Goal attempts (on target) Watford 13(8) Wolves 8(6)
Possession 51 % 49 %
Tue Dec 7th WW 1 (Cooper) v Milwall 2 (Dobie, Dichio)
Sandbagged by the Baggies - Dichio and Dobie! What wouldn;t we have given to have the heroes of 54 on the pitch. 2-0 down at half time, to win 3-2 against the biggest club in Europe. Well Bert Williams, Eddie Stuart, Peter Broadbent Bill Shorthouse and the great player who was till captain of Wolves 12 years later Ron Flowers came on at half time to celebrate that memorable event 50 years ago (see Honved page)
A chance to go 10th. Players didn’t seem interested. No bite. Against a poor Millwall side. Hoddle for manager - we could have done with him on the pitch. Certainly the parade of real Wolves superstars at half time must have felt they could have done better. Gray obviously didn’t show them the Honved highlights we saw on the video wall to inspire them to start playing nor read them Bill McGarry’s words at half time when from 2-0 down they came back to win 3-2 “You are too nervous. Get out there and play your normal game”
Before the match, Glenn Hoddle was introduced to the crowd by Rick Haywardand got a surprisingly muted welcome (although the City Council seemed better prepared).
Glenn turned down the microphone to address the crowd and spent the match in the Directors’ box.
The match again showed our slowness to start, and our slowness to get going. A 24,748 crowd only twice really started singing. Hi-Ho was a warmly greeted as Glenn was. Is it up to the players to lift the crowd or vice-versa? Certainly the visitors always seem to be able to silence us. The smallest visiting crowd for years, still outshouted the North and South Banks.
9 minutes in, then, and the outstanding Hayles put a simple low centre into the box, Scott Dobie waltzed in behind Kennedy and had a simple tap in. Poor Jody Morris who also had a great game, seemed too short to be able to join in the celebrations! Millwall shut up shop and we didn’t really threaten the goal. Hayles, for example, played left half, until there was a clear break then got forward, illustrating what we should be capable of doing. Referee T Kettle (mother had a sense of humour then) was pretty lenient until late in the second half since Millwall tended to play the man rather than the ball. Into the second half, and Oakes made a great save to palm the ball onto the post from Alan Dunne.
Then, a lifeline. Another very poor free kick just outside their box, bounced around, but when it was kicked back in Darren Ward handled - no hesitation from Trevor Kettle in awarding the penalty - and Coops stepped up - and just about got it home. GKs know he’s going down the middle and a poor kick hit Andy Marshall but still went in.
Marshall was booked for his exhuberant protests
We got about 15 minutes of Wolves possession, but no real threats on the Millwall goal. Even Leon coming off the bench to replace the off pace Sturridge couldn’t inspire us. Then, a gallop down our right. Clydey looking a bit off the pace, a simple cross diverted by Morris, and Dichio calmly stroked it home. 1-2. Shop shut.
So, in summary a poor show, no leadership on the field, no buzz, can’t even score with 4 strikers on, and crowd disheartened and taking it out on the players.
Our man of the match, Joleon yet again by a long way.
Sat Dec 4th WW 4 (Cameron, Olofinjana, Clarke(2)) : Reading 1 (Morgan)
The Sunday Times headline - “Victory flatters rocky Wolves” probably says it all. Until Leon’s persistence paid off following up on a great put through from Carl Cort, this match could have gone either way. Great goals at the South Bank end from Cams (31 - uperb assist by Seyi George with a looping flick on that fooled the defence) and Seyi George (first half injury time) gave us a fortunate first half lead. This came from Keith Andrew’s pass, and a chest down from Deano into his path. Reading had had clear, relatively easy, chances in the first period to go 3 up, one of those falling to the normally deadly Kitson. Together with some outstandling saves from Michael Oakes, and a goal line clearance from Keith Lowe, Reading deserved more. Within two minutes of the restart, Dean Morgan had broken away down our left side - I thought he was offside - leaving our defence trailing a long way behind him and cooly slotted under Oakes to bring the nervousness back to Moli. The pictures show him celebrating and Sparky trying to explain why he was left so far behind. Not long after this it might be that yellow flag Baker thought it might have been offside too since he didn’t flag for a stone dead handball by Mark Kennedy in the box. 2-2 could have really given them the initiative. The biggest cheer for Baker came when Reading’s Sidwell, under pressure from Joleon, couldn’t stop and knocked him flying.
So, the loudest (home) crowd reaction of the season is when Gray replaced Seyi George Olofinjana, arguably having his best match since joining us, with Naylor, moving an ineffectual Captain Kennedy (despite him having saved two clear goal chances) into midfield. Certainly, tactically, it seemed to work and Gray hit back in the 107.7 interview. What the fans were upset about was that Seyi had been great and Keith Andrews had a bit of a poor match and he was the fan’s choice to be replaced. I think the nickname “crab” is likely to stick with him for some time to come, since most of his passes were lateral. And everyone forgot his contribution to the second goal, so we were treated to an amazing booing session.
A lively game though, with Wolves attacking more than the previous home games. Dean Sturridge was very active, tireless in his running, and keeping pressure on Reading. It was his innocuous challenge which led to Reading’s captain, Graeme Murty, being stretchered off on 21 minutes. This coincided with Reading dropping the initiative and Wolves’ chances beginning to come. Deano himself took a knock when challenging Hahnemann, and eventually (60) had to be replaced by Leon Clarke. The outstanding young attacker, a bit muted in his last appearances had rediscovered the white sticks in the reserves, and his direct running caused the Reading defence many problems. Whereas long balls to the somewhat shorter Sturridge were easily picked off by Sonko, Leon really put pressure back on them. His persistence in following a Cort header on which should have been easily covered by the Reading goalie and Sonko by the right hand postl gave him a shot from a difficult angle which he put away. Instead of being faced by lateral passing and time to get every defender in position, Reading had a strong player running straight at them, with only the goal in mind. His directness was a real treat, and rewarded with a great second goal in the last minute from another Carl flick on.
According to distant supporters who switched to the Reading commentary when 107.7 lost its connection, the Reading commentators were surprised at the Wolves supporters’ lack of support throughout, and especially at the substitution of Olofinjana. It’s clear that the 107.7 commentary team, beset by technical problems, also thought the crowd weren’t behind the team as they seemed to think the away fans were in the lower Steve Bull, not sparsely populating the South Bank. Fortunately Gray couldn’t hear the chants for Harry Redknapp. Commenting on the Wolves’ site, when asked about the ongoing search for a replacement for Dave Jones, who was dismissed a month ago, and Stuart Gray's reign as caretaker manager, Captain Kennedy added: "I'd like to stress that we are all supportive of Stuart. He is a high quality guy and a high quality coach.
Kenny Miller was to be seen disappearing into the tunnel when the 3 minute extra time board went up. Clearly not his day either.
Men of the match: Joleon Lescott and Michael Oakes... Joleon might have looked a bit slow at times, but he made so many interceptions, and Oaksey made three match winning saves.
But three points is three points, and Kevin Muscat’s absence on Tuesday could make it the next in the run. Muscat’s (1997-2002) departure from Moli was said to be hastened by Alex Rae and Cams insisting to DJ that it was him or them.
Wolves claimed a 25,572 crowd, but that must have included many empty STH seats. You can see the huge following Reading have in the picture of Seyi George celebrating. At half time Wolves Legend Steve Bull presented Duke of Edinburgh award winners with certificates. Is young Leon the next Bully and will he score 307 goals for us, I wonder?
Forgot my camera! So, many thanks to Robert for the loan of his.