NEXT: Sat Feb 4th - Away to Mike Stowell’s and Rob Kelly’s Leicester february
Sun Jan 29th Wolves 0 Manchester United 3 (F A Cup 4th Round) 16:00 live on Sky
Strange selections of Anderton and Seol neither of whom had performed well in their last outings led to a weak midfield with only Paul Ince as a real ballwinner. Contrast the second half with Mark Davies and rejected Colin Cameron both on at half time and some spirit came back into the team, but too late. MU were two up with strikes from Baggie saviour Kevin Richardson (5) and Louis Saha (44) and should have been further ahead. Glenn expected Rooney to play up front so Anderton must have been surprised to be battling (!) with him in midfield.
In fact Wolves really only created 4 chances (even if the record shows 10) - a Cort header which flashed over from a great kennedy cross that had Andy Gray glowing, and an appalling miss by Cort - clear with no defenders about 6 yards out and he put it wide, when Van de Saar would have stood no chance..... and then he was pulled off. But the best was Colin Cameron’s stunning shot which had Van de Saar grateful to have made a save. Newcomer Thomasz Frankowski was put through again by Colin and he hit the same spot that Cort had. If advantage had been played by Rennie, then Ince might well have scored but he pulled us back... but Uriah Rennie was never going to give us anything - not even the red that Vidic could have got for his block on Kenny. Alex Ferguson clearly wasn’t going to mess about and fielded a strong side but played Rooney and Ferdinand in midfield. Was this a real test of his capabilities there - no - there was no pressure on him, but he seemed happy about the position when he ran out.
The first goal came in less than 6 minutes when after a corner on the lest was cleared MU worked the ball to Saha on the right and he, not for the first time, easily got ahead of Nayls and crossed the ball. The cross was a bit speculative but Joleon didn’t get a call from Gabor and stabbed at the ball which spun into Baggies’ saviour last season Keiron Richardson who shot home, leaving Postma prone and Van Nistleroy to collect the ball.
I predict a ro-out could have been the song when two minutes later another ball from Saha sent Richardson clear, but Stefan Postma stood up to him and saved, recovering the ball at the second attempt.
Wolves gradually picked up more of the action and eventually a “sublime” “outstanding” cross (according to ex-Wolf and Sky pundit Andy Gray) from Mark Kennedy found Carl Cort’s head after clearing Ferdinand. But he jumped too low, got his head under the ball and it looped harmlessly on to the roof of the net.
A few minutes later and Paul Ince did find the back of the net but we were pulled back by referee Uriah Rennie for a free kick in our favour. “What about playing advantage” asked Incey. But again we knew we’d get nothing from him
It wasn’t unti the 18th minute that we even won a corner, but Nayls’ attempt was easily caught by Edwin van der Saar.
The next cross from Kennedy sailed harmlessly over and Carl couldn’t even reach it with his arm outstretched.
But the killer blow was to come just on half time. The ball went back across the United defence and debutant Vidic hoofed it forwards. Gabor was pressing up on Saha but was left floundering in his wake as he set off towards Postma’s goal and calmly beat the keeper.
So at half time the performance from Wolves was absolutley nothing like the league match two years ago - no bite no commitment and Paul Ince was left to do it all himself. Sure Gabor and Jo were plating well at the back, but our left and right backs were easily passed and Anderton and Seol spent most of the half giving the ball to players in red shirts. Unsurprisingly Dennis Irwin in the Sky studio was scathing.
So at last Glenn moved nearer the starting line up that 24,000 Wolves fans would have selected and removed the ineefectual Anderton and Seol. Who would have thought he could be playing for a World Cup place and in front of tens of millions of his countrymen.
At last we gained some midfield bit from Colin Cameron and artistry from Mark Davies. And after only three minutes a Davies run across the penalty area resulted in a weak clearance to Mickey Cameron who put it forward to Nayls who returned the favour. Mickey ran twenty yards and his screamer of a shot had Van der Sar at full stretch. Could we dream of getting back in to it?
Then the ball came to Incey, but his short looked more like a pass to the left wing. Three minutes later and Kenny was almost through but, in spite of a Neville-Brown sandwich which left him limping, once again we got nothing from Rennie.
But it didn’t take United long to punish us again. Park Il Sung went on a run down the right wing and caught Nayls for pace again. His pass to an unmarked van Nistleroy gave him plenty of time to look up and see Richardson running in unmarked on the left wing. 3-0 and game over. Except two minutes later it could have been 4 as Naylor slipped up and Park almost back-heeled another goal... but who was there to throw his body into the fray - Colin Cameron of course who saved a certain goal
In the 63rd minute the other substitute we’d all been looking for - Franek - Thomasz Frankowski was prepared on the sidelines. But before he could get on Nayls puts a perfect cross to an unmarked Carl Cort on the penalty spot. With the whole goal gaping wide and Van der Sar flat footed - Carl stabs at it and pushes it wide missing an easier chance than a penalty. Afterwards it was made clear that Carl was playing with and injury so Glenn’s folly of starting with him was even worse than his midfield selections.
Thomasz did have one great chance - showing great one-two with Colin Cameron (with hardly any practice time of course) and a great snap shot, but that went the same way as Cort’s earlier chance.
The action at the other end wasn’t over though and Stefan had to pull off good saves frm Rooeny and van Nistleroy. The game was nearly over when, inexplicably, the moaning Neville crashed the ball into the North Bank, injuring a fan, and was booked by Rennie.
Wolves: Postma, Edwards, Naylor, Ince (capt), Lescott, Gyepes, Anderton (Davies 45), Kennedy, Cort (Frankowski 64), Miller, Seol (Cameron 45). Unused subs: Craddock, Ganea.
Back to draws then. Although we had chances in the second half, Millwall probably had as many. Kenny Miller was restored to the side after serving his 5-yellows suspension; Darren Anderton was also restored and Huddlestone, in his last match for Wolves didn’t even make the bench as Glenn prepared for life without him. An early scare within 30 seconds was folowed by one in the 5th minute when Marvin Elliott’s run from midfield led to an excellent Postma save, and a telling off from both Stefan and Joleon for Mark Kennedy for not tracking the run. Mo Ross got a lot of stick after a foul on him for feigning injury.
Postma did well to touch over a 20-yard drive from David Livermore after a free-kick had been pushed into the home skipper's path, before Lee Naylor was introduced in place of Ross. Naylor was soon in the thick of things driving across the face of goal after running on to a return pass from Davies. Then Ince tested Marshall with a firmly struck shot.
Teams: Millwall: Marshall, Lawrence, Elliott, Robinson, Dunne, Livermore, Whitbread, Craig, May, Morris, Williams. Subs: Doyle, Braniff, Ifil, Hendry, Healy.
pre match: Millwall started and finished our 24 game unbeaten run last year. Let’s hope they start the away sequence which leads to promotion. London Wolves are hoping for a plug in the Millwall match day programme.
So, it was to be a story ofthe Ancient and the Modern and a brief return to the 6th place slot. A dour lifeless and very poor advert for the Wolves’ promotion chances in the first half was booed by the fans at half time - not the welcome back to his first full start since August for Captain Paul Ince. But the 38 year old had the last word as he rifled home the 88th minute winner. Mark Davies’ first senior goal had pput us ahead in the 57th mionute - his perseverance in midfield then a pass from Ince to Kennedy - a long cross missed by Carl Cort and Leon shot. Beresford could only parry the shot into Mark’s path - and he made no mistake.
Several changes brought on by one match suspensions to Gabor Gyepes (Jody Craddock) and Kenny Miller (a not quite fit Carl Cort) and Paul Ince regains the captaincy. Sky gave Ince Man-of-the-match, but for me the performance of both halves was from the Vice Captain, Mark Kennedy. If his 19 yard shot in the 66th minute had gone in instead of bouncing of the post he might well have gained the award. His powerful shot in the 44th - easily saved by Beresford - prompted a chorus of “We’ve had a shot on goal”, and for long periods he was the only one really awake and pushing the ball forward. A series of corners and free kicks - right on the edge of the box were simply a waste of time and a “gimmee” to Luton.. Even Glenn;s famous finger swapping signs to Leon didn’t seem to have any effect. At one point it had looked as though our best attack was to be a quick release long punt by Stefan (or Kevin as the local commentary kept saying!) to Carl Cort. The midfield looked to be confused - particularly Ince and Huddlestone getting in each others’ way.
Even the second half - after a half tine roasting by Glenn Hoddle - started as though we were the away team and several times Luton looked the more likely.
Gradually we broke out though and Mark Kennedy began to enjoy acres of space on the left wing. Passing from Huddlestone Edwards and Ross to spread the play Ince moved in front of Huddlestone and was able to get much more forward. And with Mark Davies getting better service and imposing himself more on the centre of midfield we looked stronger. And Mark’s goal came from his own start in our half on the right. Beating two out of three tackles across the half way line in Mark’s run the ball fell to Paul Ince who laid it off to Mark Kennedy on the left wing. Both midfielders surged forward and Sparky’s long cross went over Cort’s head (who may have been holding the defender) and fell to Leon who held off the deferder and shot. Beresford could only parry the shot and it fell to Mark three yards out. He got his foot high and stabbed the ball home for his first senior goal.
That lifted the pressure as Luton had to push forward and gave us much more confidence, and Mark Kennedy went on a long run down the left before cutting inside - much like George Ndah’s goal against Newcastle - and unleashing a shot which just hit the outside of the post.
But13 minutes later the referee Mike Dean and the Steve Bull side linesman, who had been poor all match - missing the bigger items and blowing for niggly things, and Mike Dean’s unwillingness to book Luton players had led to them taking more liberties. Up to now though these had evened out, but they missed a double handball by Brkovic 13 minutes later. Although Postma saved the ball bounced free and Mo Ross was booked for the follow up tackle. From the free kick just outside the box which hit the wall Nicholls picked up the rebound, hit a first time centre. Postma came but was never going to get there and Howard outjumped Jo to equalise.
It began to look as though we were settling for another draw when we won a free kick against the same Brkovic deep in our half. A long long ball forward from Rob Edwards was chested into Paul Ince’s path by Vio. Two strides and Paul shot from 20 yards. The ball curled slightly round the two defenders and Beresford could get nowhere near it. 2-1 and at last a win.
Wolves: Postma, Ross, R. Edwards, Ince (capt), Lescott, Craddock, Huddlestone, Kennedy, Cort, Clarke, Davies. Unused subs: Oakes, Anderton, Seol, Ricketts. Booking: Ross: (80 - foul).
Luton: Beresford, Foley, Underwood, Coyne, Heikkinen, Nicholls (capt), Brkovic, C. Edwards, Howard, Vine (Feeney 65), Showunmi. Unused subs: Brill, Barnett, Morgan, Bell.
Referee: M. Dean. Attendance: 21,823.
Wolves came into this hoping to do much better result than the drawn league match a week earlier when Plymouth scored with their only attack in the first half and could have won it after a poor substitution of Seol for Ross lost the plot (report here). Plymoiuth brought 1,000 supporters to bring the poorest crowd for years (11,041) abd the same frustrating game plan, albeit with 4 key players missing. Four changes for Wolves though from Coventry with Paul Ince restored to the captaincy, Mark Davies also starting on his return. Glenn kept faith with the under pressure Leon Clarke, but brought Seol back, and Jody Craddock was missing. Carl Cort finally made it to the bench after three months to come on after 73. Tom Huddlestone was of course cup-tied after his loan extension to Jan 21st.
Several attacks from Wolves in the first 20 - a great cross in the first minute, a great break and run for Mark Davies but he bottled it when clean through on the goalie from Kenny’s pass, a free kick to Joleon in the box, and then another great break from Mark D, but he couldn’t get the ball to Kenny. Another chance but Leon delayed his pass to Kenny. Wolves however didn’t exert enough speed or pressure and there was a brief hesitation from Jo but Gabor was able to clear back to Postma from Evans
In the 20th minute Joleon missed a through ball but Gabor Gyepes was there to clear up. Plymouth began to get back into the match. A great shot from Paul Ince on the 24th from 30-35 yards brought an equally great save from Larrieu. From the corner Gyepes headed down but brought another excellent save from Larrieu. Better pressure and the crowd woke up - claiming a penalty for handball.
And then the next attack - ball to Lescott - to Mark Davies in the center circle - out to Mo Ross - a low cross from Cams - Kenny dummied a stretch to it and the ball went to Leon 6 yards out. After all the pressure on him he was really cool, took it down on his chest and put it past Larrieu. However his gesture to be quiet upset the fans, who spent the rest of the match taking it out on him. A gesture of arrogance that his performance this season just doesn’t justify.
A minute later Seol whipped the ball in and Kenny’s weak shot was saved by Larrieu. Kenny also nearly set up Leon again, and Cams, but Larrieu was up to their shots. Leon missed a couple of good passing opportunities.
Wolves started the second half brightly but Plymouth nearly equalised from a corner but Buzsaky fired on o the roof of the net. He then set up another chance. Mark Davies and Kenny again had chances, but the danger of a one goal lead was nearly demonstrated again when Postma had to save from Wotton in injury time. Cort came on for Seol in the 73rd and Denes Rosa made his home debut replacing Cams for the last ten minutes.
Wolves: Postma, Lescott, Ince (c), Cameron, Kennedy, Miller, Ross, Seol, Gyepes, Clarke, Davies.
Wolves again rued plenty of missed chances - 28 shots in all - but, instead of walking away with a draw it became a humiliating defeat. Hungarian Demes Rosa made his debut in the second half and must have wondered what had become of our strikers. Fans, too, asked how Adebele and the other Coventry forwards had managed to “rough up” our defenders so much.
James Scowcroft hasn’t scored for months and his tentative shot towards goal from the edge of the area hit no less than three Wolves players as it pin-balled it’s way home in just the eighth minute..
And then, on 35, plenty of defensive cover back for Marcus Hall’s header, but Joleon kicked the ball in front of Postma’s hands and scored a very bad own goal. Tons of possession followed but no real pressure. And it wasn’t the best of circumstances for new signing Denes Rosa to make his debut.
Sparly did get the ball in the net for a long overdue goal but it was disallowed for offside. Kenny Miller was denied by finger tip saves by Fulop as was Gabor’s powerful drive. But again chances were being wasted as Leon. Cams, Vio, and Rosa all shot wide.
However, Rob G took some good pictures of Coventry’s new Ricoh stadium so here they are
and Rob was very impressed to see that Coventry have tributes to Wolves players as well
Sky Blues : Wolves
Goal Attempts 7 : 23
Coventry City: Fulop, Hall, Williams, Duffy, Doyle (capt) (Jorgensen 90), Adebola, McSheffrey (Whing 75), Scowcroft, John (Morrell 90), Osbourne, Shaw. Unused subs: C Ince, Heath.
Wolves: Postma, Edwards, Gyepes, Huddlestone, Anderton (Rosa 67), Lescott, Craddock (Seol 61), Cameron (Ganea 77), Kennedy (capt), Miller, Clarke. Unused subs: Oakes, P. Ince.
Bookings: Cameron (40 - foul), Huddlestone (52 - holding), Miller (71 - foul), Gyepes (79 - foul).
Referee: E. Ilderton. Attendance: 26,851.