Date:Wednesday January 18 2012
So Wolves verses Birmingham the sequel, the first part produced by ESPN and directed by Mick McCarthy and Chris Hughton didn`t get many people through the box office (St. Andrew`s) and the critics were scathing.
But with it being awards season, the FA Cup is always a big hit and a second instalment was quickly commissioned and screened by ITV. Usually a sequel is never as good as the original, but on some occasions, the second chapter of the story comes out on top and thankfully for those who turned out at Molineux they were treated to a much better game, well half a game, but it was never the barnstormer that Mick McCarthy promised and if this was a movie it would be one of those that went straight to DVD rather than the cinema.
Just like the first fixture, McCarthy made plenty of changes, ten in all from the draw over Spurs. Once again our Mick decided to start the game without Steven Fletcher and went with Kevin Doyle and Sylvain Ebanks-Blake up front, supported by Hammill, Milijas and Hunt with Jonsson sitting a little bit deeper in midfield. De Vries continued his FA Cup duty behind the back four of Doherty, Stearman, Berra and Elokobi.
The game had a much higher tempo from the off but it was Birmingham who had the first sniff at goal, but a nice cross was cut out by Berra on five minutes, Wolves swiftly moved up the pitch and within 60 seconds SEB was getting his first shot on goal, but it was easily saved by Doyle.
What the game really needed was an early goal to get the last tie out of everyones minds and Ebanks-Blake really should have found it a few minutes later with his second effort of the evening, a Hammill cross found Ebanks-Blake, but he couldn`t find the net with his header.
Despite the lack of a goal inside the opening 15 minutes the game continued to be much better than the previous encounter with the game flowing from end to end with both sides at times playing some nice football into the channels, Redmond for Birmingham was looking like their main threat, while Wolves spread the play around with Milijas pulling the strings in the centre of park and Hammill continually getting the beating of his man at full back.
The next example of Wolves joy down the right flank was on 20 minutes when Hammill played a ball over the top for Doherty to whip the ball across the six yard box, Ebanks-Blake read it well and tried to get there but alas he couldn`t reach the ball and another chance was gone, but Wolves were beginning to get a foothold in the game, Birmingham`s chances were now restricted to counter-attacks as Wolves stroked the ball around at will.
Birmingham were down to nine men on 30 minutes after two of their players clashed heads, with both players bleeding they were led down the tunnel giving Wolves a numerical advantage for a couple of minutes, but Wolves remained patient in their play and failed to make the numbers game count. In fact it was Birmingham that should have gone in front during a nine minute period when they were without their full compliment. Rooney was clear through on goal after a Berra mistake, but he hesitated, failed to get the shot on goal and gave Elokobi the chance to get back and make the tackle, Birmingham fans might have thought it was a penalty, but World Cup final referee Howard Webb was having none of it.
The final minutes of the half offered pretty little and I began to get flashbacks to the first encounter, which was unfortunate because this had threatened to offer so much more in patches. The thought of possibly another seventy five minutes of this was almost enough for me to give up the battle for the remote as Big Brother was about to come on. But I kept the faith and slyly hid the remote guaranteeing the second half would remain on.
For the first ten or so minutes I was beginning to wonder if Big Brother might have been more entertaining, or at least preferable to the nagging...Birmingham had a couple of speculative efforts and Elokobi had an effort from 25 yards deflected, but the game was threatening to be the stalemate everyone feared it would be. With half an hour to go before extra-time would McCarthy now start thinking about freshening things up? Well, Fletcher was warming up, but no real sign that there would be an immediate change. So Wolves kept on plugging away, Hammill had his shot blocked by Kevin Doyle who couldn`t get out of the way, before Jonsson fizzed one straight at Doyle of the Birmingham variety.
Redmond then had a shot for Birmingham which went off for a throw in, before Elliott had a weak effort saved by De Vries, it was enough for McCarthy who made his first change withdrawing Jonsson and bringing on Adlene Guedioura.
It wasn`t the attacking change we might have all been hoping for, but his first touch was a rasping effort which went wide, while Steven Fletcher began preparing himself for his introduction, which came with 20 minutes remaining replacing Kevin Doyle.
Elokobi then came the closest to breaking the deadlock, but fortunately for Wolves as it was down the wrong end it missed the post by inches, however the resulting corner did break the deadlock, Elliott hit the post first time around and as he sat on his arse the ball fell back to him and he poked home from two yards out.
The next few minutes resulted in 1-0 to the Championship chant from the travelling Birmingham supporters and close ups of Wolves supporting children with tears in their eyes and a few adults also looking thoroughly depressed.
It was turning into the FA Cup "upset" that the ITV bosses had hoped for when selecting the game for television.
The final change for our Mick was to bring Ward on for Doherty which forced a bit of a shuffle at the back, most of the play now though was down the other end of the field as Wolves searched for an elusive equaliser, an hour ago extra time was the last thing I wanted, but as Ebanks-Blake`s scuffed shot fell to Fletcher who collided with the Keeper, Hunt had that chance to find the net and give us added time, but his effort was also saved and went over for a corner, which was duly wasted.
With the clock ticking away Wolves struggled to create that final chance to take it to extra time and with the seconds ticking away, Birmingham duly played out the remaining time in the corner, much to the embarrassment of Wolves.
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Date:Wednesday January 18 2012
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