Having paid my dues by watching a fluffy romcom with my wife when I got back home, I have been given permission to write the report. Unfortunately, unlike 'Life as We Know It` on Sky Movies, there was no happy ending at Molineux. So, what else did I expect?
Driving to the match this morning, I had plenty of time to contemplate life, the universe and everything Wolverhampton Wanderers. I realised that I was remarkably calm and relaxed, free of the normal tension I feel when travelling to a game. The debacle at Craven Cottage had extinguished all hope and I had resigned myself to visits from Barnsley and trips to Crystal Palace.
Expecting little, my spirits rose somewhat as the game got underway. Neither side was playing very well- and mistakes were legion- but we certainly had the edge for most of the first half. For once, Jarvis was determined to take on the full-back and managed to do so with relative ease. Throughout the game he sent over a stream of crosses, some of which found the head of a WW player and one or two were even directed at the goal. He missed a sitter early on though, side-footing a cross from Edwards round the post from three yards with an open goal in front of him.
If Ward kept giving the ball away, his overlapping runs were proving effective. In the 12th. minute he might have engineered a chance but his cut-back from the by-line was poor. Other chances went begging. Even so, we looked the more likely to score, that is, until Blackburn scored in the 42nd. minute. A long throw into our box, which typically our defence failed to clear, was our undoing. Davis headed the ball out to the unmarked Hoilett, who hit it home. We never managed to shackle him throughout the game.
Up to that point Blackburn had struggled to find a rhythm as the tension of the occasion was clearly affecting their play. As I feared, the goal boosted their confidence and their all-round game started to improve. We needed a swift reply ... and in the first minute of the second half neat interplay between Jarvis and Ward ended with a cross into the box, only for Fletcher to miscue his shot. Ironically, his overall control of the ball throughout the game was good. Even so, his partnership with Doyle was largely ineffective. Indeed, Doyle`s performance was patchy.
Thereafter, the fortunes of the teams moved in opposite directions. While never giving up, our game became increasingly ragged. Passes went astray, tackles were missed and the dithering quotient leapt. Blackburn players, who had hitherto been as prone to error as WW, tightened up their game and drove forward with added resolve. It was therefore not surprising when Hoilett scored from long range in the 68th. minute; in the absence of any of our defenders, he had all the time he needed to pick his spot.
Our players are better than this but their confidence has been shredded. And this affected their ability to convert chances when they did come along. Jarvis, Fletcher and Milijas all missed gift-wrapped opportunities to score. I think that it`s beginning to influence Hennessey's form too.
Lapses at the back cost us dear again. Ward and Zubar were turned regularly and, if one expects Stearman to lose concentration from time to time, Bassong`s play deteriorated as the game progressed. In midfield, O`Hara is clearly not fit; he lacks sharpness, while among the neat pieces of play, he gets caught in possession and misdirects passes. Davis, on the other hand, looked composed on the ball, executed a number of well-timed passes and was solid in defence. With him and Henry in the middle we will not be overrun so easily.
On the wings, the contrast between Jarvis and Kightly, after he had come on, was very marked. Whereas Kightly was completely ineffectual, Jarvis gave his marker a torrid time. It`s a pity that we didn`t always have a man in the box to convert his crosses.
I left just as extra time was being played in order to beat the queues out of town, given the road-works on the A449. So, I did not witness the demonstration nor the shameful attack on O`Hara and his kid. En route home I only met one other WW supporter and he also thinks we are doomed.
Whereas he is still struggling with the concept of Championship football, I have accepted the inevitability of it. If we lose to our relegation rivals, we do not deserve to stay up. And if we cannot do the basics properly- convert clear-cut chances, defend solidly, pass accurately and maintain a grip on the midfield- we will be in the First Division the following season.
As we were going downhill during the course of the game, I found my attention being diverted from the inaction on the pitch to the white elephant of the Stan Cullis Stand. Just think of the number of quality players we could have bought with the money spent on unnecessary ground improvements. So, who is to blame for this fiasco?
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