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The Difference that a Player Makes

The Difference that a Player Makes

This was a game that we had to win and not merely to erase the memory of the dreadful performance against Liverpool on Tuesday. And we did ... and I was there.

However, while I am ecstatic at the victory, we should be under no illusions that we have turned the corner. Before Cissé was sent off we never looked like scoring and QPR deservedly took the lead in the 15th. minute as a result of a typical defensive lapse. Bassong, who otherwise played a stormer, lost Zamora at the critical moment.

Indeed, even when we had a man advantage for fourteen minutes before the break, we played no better. It was like the end of the Liverpool game. There was no movement, no urgency and very little skill. The only half-decent play we put together came in the second minute of injury time, with fine interplay down the left flank which ended when Jarvis blazed high over the bar.

MM must have said something significant at half-time, though, because the players came out for the second half in a much more positive frame of mind. Within a minute we had drawn level, MJ volleying home a cross from Doyle, who had come on for Stearman. Whether or not the substitution was forced on Mick because of an injury to Stearman is a moot point but it worked. One can safely say that Doyle is back and playing as well as he has ever done.

For the next half an hour we were all over QPR, a repetition of the 30 minutes or so before half-time in the AV game. We should have scored in the 51st. minute when a header from Fletcher and a poke from SEB failed to cross the line. The incident occurred at my end and I still don`t understand how QPR survived. My friend and I feared that it might be a costly miss ...

... but It didn`t matter for once because Doyle netted in the 70th. minute. O`Hara started the movement, playing the ball through to SEB, who laid the ball off to Doyle to fire past the keeper from close range. Naturally, any WW goal is well received by us long suffering fans but there was real joy to see the Irishman finally end his goal drought. He`ll expect a start on Saturday against the Baggies.

Obviously, as we are WW, we failed to make it easy for ourselves by adding the cushion of an extra goal. On the contrary, we had to endure 10 minutes of agony as the home team exerted constant pressure, as we failed to maintain our momentum and slipped back to defend in and around our penalty area. QPR creatred several chances, including a long range effort from Traore which Hennessey superbly tipped over the bar. So, a normal day at the office for him.

When the final whistle blew after exactly four minutes of extra time we could finally relax, punch the air and hug our neighbours in the stand. For the moment the abiding issues which we need to address were forgotten and we could all bask in an unlikely victory, courtesy of a moment of madness by a volatile Frenchman.

So, as it`s now 11.30 pm, the euphoria has abated somewhat. What are the lessons to be learned from today? Firstly, it`s a bloody good job that we have Bassong and Frimpong on loan. Both are immense players, the one strengthening our defence with his composure on the ball, his positional sense, his soundness in the air and his ability to distribute the ball and the other adding bite to our midfield with his drive, finesse and solidity. I feared the worst when Manny limped off and pray that he is fit for next Saturday. We need him. I was surprised to see that Berra had to make way for Bassong because I have thought that he has been the more secure at CD than RJ, the shocking penalty against AV notwithstanding. Johnson started poorly but improved over time. It was his innocuous and perfectly legal tackle that provoked Cissé`s retaliation. I cannot confirm that statement because my MOTD recording packed up as the snow deepened.

Upfront, we ended with three strikers and, although it was down to the specific circumstances, it did allow us to compare them. Of the three, Fletcher looked jaded and less effective than the other two. He even missed his signature headed goal. Doyle, on the hand, looked sharp and in control, running intelligently off the ball and passing the ball accurately and with vision. SEB played his customary all-action role and exhibited one or two nice touches amid the bustle. He unsettled the opposition with his general belligerence. I`m still not certain that he is a PL performer though.

In midfield, it was good to see O`Hara back. He was quiet in the first half but became an ever more influential presence as the game progressed. We`ve missed him over the last few weeks. He will help make up for the loss of Frimpong, should he be out for some time. But, who are we going to play in the inner midfield with both our enforcers out?

To round off a near perfect day, on arriving home I saw that the other results had gone our way. Unfortunately, next Saturday we will have to do it all again but this time against 11 men. Even so, this win could be the fillip we need and it also pulls another team down into the relegation mire. Now, what must I do to obtain permission to see my third WW game in eight days?

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

Date:Sunday February 5 2012
Time: 12:33AM


Glad to see Bassong do so well. I will also predict he will get even better with a couple more games behind him. Great win as well. Let's hope this is the start f a mini recovery to keep you up
05/02/2012 06:31:00
Great report, Southbank, thanks for staying up late to write it. Oh, just tell the wife that it's a do or die game - it always is in WW's case, so no pangs of conscience can attach.
05/02/2012 07:53:00
Glad of the win even if it was against ten men!,I have my doubts that we could have done it against their full compliment?,it was however a change that a referee's decision came down on our side for a change. Johnson's mistimed tackle was a foul but Cisse's reaction was illegal so he had to go.Bassong without setting the game alight did ok,I will reserve judgement on him for another few games,people seem to go over the top these days after just one game,yes Doyle did ok and got a goal but does that make up for all the form before that,he is another that needs to play well for a few games. Next sunday is another crucial match,in fact thats all we have left now,they are all crucial!,at least now we have a win behind us and that will give us an extra bit of confidence that has been lacking lately.Are you travelling up next week Banksy?,should be a decent game in Dublin this afternoon,if Wales can win they have three home games and should be favourites for the title.UTW.
Crete Wolf
05/02/2012 08:04:00
You're right of course, Crete Wolf, one shouldn't judge a performance solely on one game and against ten men. Even so, Bassong, like Frimpong, are class players and show up the deficiencies of our other players in comparison with them. In contrast, Doyle has to prove he can play like that on a weekly basis and against 11 men. However, he did look sharp and in control, having shaken off his doubts and demons. His movement, passing and shooting were all first class. Even more importantly he has rediscovered the location of the net. His goal, neatly taken looked even better on MOTD this morning. Oh! and it showed me that Johnson's tackle was definitely a foul. The real result of the game, apart from the three points and drawing level with QPR, of course, will be its impact it has on the players' confidence ... and on the spirits of us fans. Before the match everyone around me was gloomy and predicting relegation, should we lose. Now, we could possibly escape and that's brilliant. I just worry that the first half performance will return on Saturday. Bugger, now I am being as pessimistic as you.
05/02/2012 08:35:00
Absolutely Southbank... The quaity of Frimpong (and perhaps Bassong) has shown up a lot of our players. Im thrilled for the win, but was left yet again bewildered at Berra (the better of our two CBs) chopped instead of that useless sack of ***** Johnson, not to mention the introduction of stearman - why is he still on our books.,.. Making me almost as happy as the win however, was the re-appearance and sublime display of THE ONE AND ONLY KEVIN DOYLE !!! I hope those who were slagging him off and wanting him sold have now been reminded of just what a star player he is... Noticed the official site has got "Inspired Substitutions" as a lead story - laugh? I nearly shat... The nugget was forced to make the changes he did, and its quite ironic that the player mick has been snubbing the past month came on to save his job. This win has given us a glimmer of hope - but the fact remains, we need shot of mccarthy as soon as humanly possible. WE ARE WOLVES!
05/02/2012 09:04:00
It was a Sh*t or bust game yesterday and we ended up with a great win. No doubt I will get some flack but it was Inspired Substitutions that turned the game around. Going from a 4-5-1 we had SEB come on in place of Frimpong, we then switched to a 4-4-2 but sometimes we played 3-5-2. With the introduction of Doyle we then played 3-4-3 for a lot of the game. MM could have replaced Stearman with Milijas or Hunt but in putting on a 3rd striker was a brave decision on MM's part, so let's give credit where it is due. With Jarvis putting in some excellent crosses we caused them all sorts of problems - they could not defend against the 3 strikers, though playing against 10 men did help a lot!. I thought Bassong had a decent game - he looks controlled and very comfortable when in possession. Let's hope this is a turning point for us. Of course Doyle is now back in the frame which gives MM a bit of a headache if Kightly has recovered in time for Sunday's derby match. Who will he play and what formation will he go with? I would like to see him go 4-3-1-2 with Doyle playing along the line behind SEB and Fletcher.
05/02/2012 10:56:00
Great result but why cant we play a full ninty minutes liked we played for thirty minutes in the second half.We seem to always leave our selfs with an up hill struggle just cant understand it and why was Stearman playing he looks nervous and does not know what he is expected to do when he has the ball.Great to see Doyle back on form i would play him just behind Fletch next week get kightly back and hopefuly Frimpong and have a real go against the baggies not just half a game for the whole match if we can win it brings them right into the battle for survival.Joh seems to have come back ful of energy and Bassong has brought some steadiness to the defence.
05/02/2012 11:52:00
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