Analysis & Ratings: Wolves v West Bromwich Albion
I’m relieved! In the 11th hour Wolves showed their fighting face and got the result needed and most wanted. A very much deserved win in the most important game of the season.
I must admit to wrinkling my nose a little at manager McCarthy’s’ starting eleven in the game. It was a big surprise that Matt Jarvis wasn’t present, but – as I said in a comment after last game – Hunty is a type of player who thrives in tough derby games.
The impact of the play by Jarvis in the last games have not been like earlier on in the season either, but it was bold by our manager to put Hunt on for our England International – and it paid off!
My superstitious mind tells me to use this animation for the rest of the season. It’s not a running wolf, but Wolves were running today and they were running forward like they did earlier on in the season and we were pressuring WBA to mistakes all over the pitch by being in their faces as the more aggressive team all over the green mat.
When we got a set piece we packed players into the area and they were alert and moving about, showing that killer instinct I talked about before the game. It came as no surprise when Hunt took a corner from the left after quarter of an hour that Guédioura was first on the ball and chested it on to Fletcher who made no mistake close up with his feet.
They showed no fear of losing and because of that they were succesful in going forward. The other team on the pitch didn’t have much ball and chances.
Just before the half hour it was time again and after another well taken corner from Hunty Fletcher was polite enough to pay Guédioura back for assisting him earlier by heading the corner down to him to strike a half-volley into the net.
So it was the same trio in work as on the first goal, and they were also very succesful at taking the ball forward in play. Together with Jamie O’Hara – back to his old self in the middle – they dominated play the first 40 minutes and Fletch went close with a header on an O’Hara corner ten minutes after the second goal.
The team from down the road came back to play for the last few minutes of the first half and had a couple of chances, but they fired high or were interrupted before getting to chances.
The talk at halftime was of course about the fantastic first half by Wolves, but also about if two goals up would be enough to win the game. If they should get one back we would be in trouble again so we had to push on. Attack is best defence, was the word from the fans.
What a fantastic start to the second half we got ourselves gifted with. It was the central defender of WBA, Méité, who delivered the gift by missing out defending from a cross by Foley that reached Fletcher who became totally free with Carson and could score our third with ease. Thank you, Tesco neighbours!
The rest of the second half was not that easy and they started to have much more of the ball, but still very few chances. A few minutes after the Wolves goal, however, Guédioura fouled their dangerman Odemwingie and a penalty was given. Their striker star did no mistake although Hennessey went in the right direction, but it was well taken and Hens didn’t stand a chance to save it.
Their was a little worries now as they continued to dominate the game, having smelled some blood. I don’t know if it was the pressure from WBA or our own choice of play, but we were now dropping down and the midfield was almost in the knees of our defenders at times.
But the players were still fighting hard and our back four played well and didn’t give them many chances and – as in the first half – when they got their chances they typically shot wide or high over the goal and once on the crossbar. I remember Hennessey making a good one hand save at one occasion aswell.
Although we couldn’t hold up play and play at the same high level in the second half the three goals we collected in the first fifty minutes were enough to get a very well deserved win and the bragging rights.
More important is, though, the three points that will get us over the relegation line and give us a good chance of survival. But let us look at the now completed ‘West Midlands League’ before moving to the individual ratings of the game.
||# Games||Result||Points in # and%|
||3 W 2 D 1 L
||11/18 = 61%|
||3 W 1 D 2 L
||10/18 = 56%
||2 W 2 D 2 L
||8/18 = 44%
||0 W 3 D 3 L
||3/18 = 17%
I’ve heard that the Baggies are saying that they are aiming at being the best West Midlands team in the Premier League. Please tell them it’s too late. Wolves are the best team and above is the proof.
Should we have played as well against all teams as we have against our neighbours we would be right behind the first four in the league. So maybe the players should be talked into (or hypnotised?) believing that every game is a derby. 😆 To the ratings.
Hennessey – 7 – Made a fabulous save and was confident in goal all through the game. Not much to do, though, which shows how good we really were as a team at defending today.
Foley – 8 – Back from start and it was the old Foley that came back. No nervousness, bad kicks or bad defending. And he assisted Fletcher for the third goal which renders him an extra point. When Stears came on and O’Hara went off he played the inner midfield.
Craddock – 6 – Was solid most of the time but did let a WBA player through at one time a little too easy. I’ve drawn a point off for that.
Mancienne – 6 – Had some trouble with Odemwingie at a couple of occasions but is very effective when he is starting up play from behind and brings the ball forward. That’s what differs him from Berra.
Elokobi – 8 – Our best player of the back four today. Had much ball as usual and played it well up the pitch – often with the help of O’Hara and Hunty. Very good defending and used his body more than in previous games.
Henry – 6 – Played more behind O’Hara than in previous games. Some good interceptions but also lost the ball in midfield on a couple of occasions.
Guédioura – 8 – One of a trio of outstanding players in this game going forward. Did the right thing on the first and the second goal and fought hard both going forward and defending from upfront until he was substituted. The right player for the right game. Gets the smiley!
O’Hara – 8 – Like Foley he was back in good form, maybe because of the derby character of the game but also because he was playing further forward then in previous games, making him able to concentrate more on the attacking game. Good set pieces and co-op with Hunty, Kobi and Fletcher.
Hunt – 9 – Surprisingly on instead of Jarvo. But he proved that McCarthy had made the right choice when he launched his corners for the two first goals. But that was of course not his only contributions to the game. He runs miles and is in everyones faces all the time. Tackles more than anybody else and is succesful at that, despite his lack of length. He is also a player who moves forward ant takes everybody else with him in that endeavour, and that is what – despite fierce competition from a two times goalscorer – finally makes Stephen Hunt Paddytheflea’s Star Man!
Ward – 8 – Went close at one time when he got the ball with him after lifting it passed a defender showing technical skills, but the shot went wide when it was almost easier to score. Worked really hard as usual and maybe he was more of a threat to the WBA defence than Fletcher in open play. Good at holding the ball up when needed in second half.
Fletcher – 9 – Two goals in the most important game of the season should of course give him the star and it was close. Very well taken goals and the assist to Guédi was perfect. Even close of scoring a third from an O’Hara corner. Fletcher is in form now and it is at exactly the right time. He gets the little star now and if he does the same thing away against Sunderland I promise to give him the big one. 😆