A Flying Start
Well, it`s Sunday evening and the only comments on the match on the site are the responses to Akela`s stats . By now, I have usually written a report but felt coy about doing so today. I did not have access to any freeview sites and am still unable to listen to the Beacon broadcast (in spite of paying for it). Naturally, I followed the WW blog and watched Football First last night and early this morning, as well as reading all the reports on NewsNow Wolves. So here goes.
In spite of a hangover (see below) I felt really chirpy this morning. All three of my teams won yesterday, an outcome that hardly seemed possible at the beginning of the day (with the exception of the cricket match, of course). Although my wife is not interested in cricket and would have preferred an English victory in rugby, she is a Wolverhampton girl and was quite happy to sup a glass or two of wine with our evening curry, while I celebrated with a few glasses of beer.
This morning I celebrated again, watching a replay of the match with a glass of beer for company (and the T.V. down low to avoid waking the wife). A little later I set off on the bike to follow the cyclists competing in the test race on the Olympic circuit. It wasn`t as impressive a feat as it sounds as I was able to keep up by taking a series of short cuts. To pass the time I thought about the match ... and had a few beers when I accidently bumped into some friends at a pub en route ('bumped into` in the metaphorical sense, that is).
I might have written a report when I arrived home but for some reason my wife had determined that the afternoon`s business would be to fill in my income tax form, which was probably an ill-advised exercise under the circumstances. It always leads to rows, even when I am sober, because she thinks I should be more involved and should certainly not mislay vital pieces of documentation! At least, she opened a bottle of white wine to ease the tension.
When we finished it was dinner time but, as neither of us wanted to cook it, we had a take away instead ... and another bottle of wine (I probably drank most of the two bottles). Then we sat through a couple of romcoms on Sky TV ('You Again` and 'Love Actually`). As a result, I have earned a few brownie points today, which will help ease the wife in to my alternative Saturdays away over the course of the next nine months.
Soppy romantic that I am, watching 'Love Actually` put me in a warm frame of mind when it came to writing the report. After my initial pleasure at the victory yesterday, I had begun to have my doubts. I thought about the opening day of last year`s competition when the promise of the victory against Stoke soon turned sour. Is this season going to fall apart in a similar fashion, even if redeemed by salvation less than three minutes from oblivion? After all, Blackburn had fielded a weakened side and had had their chances (Hoilett`s shot in the first few minutes and Nzonzi`s header in the second half, for instance).
Even so, I am feeling cautiously optimistic. Hennessey`s sharp reactions prevented us from going behind in the first few minutes and in general he seemed more secure under crosses than he had been last year (though I recall one bad fluff). His kicking was immaculate too. RJ has certainly strengthened the defence, exhibiting the same air of authority as Craddock but with better legs and a more powerful motor. He is already imposing greater discipline on the players around him. Berra, in particular, looked more composed and had a good game. Henry, too, benefited, his game improving without the onus of captaincy. Ward also impressed; if his superbly taken goal indicated that he is wasted at full back, I thought he coped well with the tricky Hoilett. He certainly outshone Elokobi at LB, just as Foley did in comparison with Stearman at RB.
WW looked a rejuvenated side going forward as well. JOH worked tirelessly and intelligently, though his failed back heel in the penalty area was an aberration of Stearmanesque proportions. Hunt was a human dynamo, carrying on from where he had left off at the end of the season. Only his showing against the Baggies in May surpassed his performance yesterday. He both strengthened the midfield and added urgency to the attack. While Jarvis was not as prominent, he looked more composed, purposeful and in control. He provided the exquisite cross which Fletcher headed home and won the penalty which indirectly led to Ward`s clincher.
Upfront, worries about Doyle`s knee thankfully proved groundless (were there genuinely any grounds at all?). He was as industrious as ever, and worked well with Fletcher without reaching the heights which we know he is capable of. Pity about the penalty, though! Fletcher scored a great goal and, like Hunt, is continuing the rich vein of form he was showing in the spring. With our wingers on song he is going to score a bucketful of goals this year.
Reviewing my comments, it is clear that I feel that we are better placed to survive this season ... and even to push on up the table. We are not going to leak as many goals, though much depends upon RJ avoiding injury and others around him playing consistently well. The two points, I feel, go hand in hand. In the same way, we rely on JOH in midfield, though I am aware of Milijas`s obvious class as a playmaker. In this respect, we could still do with a CB, LB and inner midfielder.
Going forward, we looked far more direct and decisive, counter-attacking with speed and purpose. The move, which led to the equalizer is a case in point, fine interplay putting Jarvis in the clear and giving him ample time to place his cross on Fletcher`s head. We are going to score more goals than before. If, at the same time, we cut out some of the errors at the back , we will not ship as many. If, moreover, we did give away an avoidable goal yesterday, we did at least close out the game at the end, a feat we found difficult to achieve last season. And yet ... I would like to wait until after my visit to Molineux next Sunday before considering whether the single swallow has any mates.