Analysis & Ratings: Sunderland v Wolves
Let me first say that I’m delighted. The first back-to-back victory for Wolves this season and it came at exactly the right time. This was also the first win for manager McCarthy at the Stadium of Light and the first home and away win against any team this season.
Hand-on-heart, though, Wolves didn’t play well at all yesterday. Not as against West Brom anyway. Based on play the first half of the game we didn’t deserve to have a draw at tea time. It was Sunderland that started the match best and had most possession and pressured Wolves into doing mistakes.
They clearly lacked the firepower needed to take advantage of their better play though, but when Zenden hit the crossbar after eight minutes and Sessegnon almost scored – but Hennessey made a master one-handed save – they came awfully close and with a goal in the back that early in an away match Wolves would have had a hard time coming back into the game.
Instead it was Wolves that – against play – effectively scored the first goal in the game. Hunty crossed to Craddock who made no mistake in the area and could score with a volley against his old team. After the half our Wolves came close to a second when Jamie O’Hara made his impression of Zenden and hit the bar from 18 yards.
But this was actually the Black Cats half and they showed that convincingly when Sessegnon, totally unmarked – could shoot the ball into an almost undefended goal after a corner. I ask myself why nobody thought about their one man upfront who looked the most likely to score for them?
Towards the end of the half Ward came through on the left and was just about to reach the head of Fletcher with a pass when Mensah stopped the ball with his hand. It was clearly a penalty and I’m certain that Fletch would have scored if not for that hand and it sure added to the despair at half time.
So we were back where we started after the first half and the play didn’t look good with the Sunderland team playing well, pressuring our midfield down into our penalty area. I don’t know the possession stats for the half, but they must have had an advantage of 75-25 or something and much of their possession was on our half of the pitch.
That half of the game was soon to be forgotten when the second half started. After being second team in most close combat Wolves became the first and the passing game became better too.
Ten minutes into the half Jarvis – who came in for Guédioura after 45 – ran along the right wing and managed to get round his defender and cross the ball just passed the fingertips of the Black Cat goalie and pinpoint a forward running Fletcher who nodded Wolves second from up close and into the net. Beautiful! The ball was sort of hanging in the air for a long time as was Fletcher.
There was a call for a penalty some minutes later when it looked like Hunty brought Sessignon down in the area, but when I looked at a rerun it stood clear that the referee made a correct call. It was not a foul.
With just one goal up Wolves was not at all safe, but Big George went close to score with about twenty minutes left after a corner. It was to be the general rehearsal for the bullet header that went into the net ten minutes later after a well taken free by O’Hara. With two goals up we looked safe and the Sunderland team didn’t come close to threaten our win ever again. To the ratings.
Hennessey – 8 – With two crucial saves and a very convincing play he stabilises the whole team. The nervousness from a few matches ago is now a distant memory and when he play like yesterday he is a great asset to the team and a big part in us winning games. He gets the little star.
Foley – 7 – One of the better out there. Had much ball and played well in co-op with Jarvis in the second half. It’s good to have him back in good form.
Craddock – 8 – Not many mistakes, as usual, and I suspect that he is the reason why the back four and Hens are playing with much more confidence now. It takes years to master the skills of a central defender and Jody knows how to go about his job. And he knows how to score aswell! He gets the smiley.
Mancienne – 5 – Went ball-watching on the goal instead of marking. Made a couple of other less convincing things aswell. I’m not sure that he is a better choice than Berra. This is a position we got to strengthen next season in the Premier League.
Elokobi – 6 – Gets an extra point for the well taken goal, but in defensive play he was no hit in this game. Much involved in playing the ball up and good co-op with Hunty and Fletcher, but defensively he was a security risk as he all too often is.
Henry – 7 – Didn’t fancy him first half when we gave away the midfield. Worked harder and smarter in the second half and we were back in the game.
O’Hara – 8 – The same as above really and he was the king of midfield in second half. His set pieces earns him an extra point. He will score against Blackburn!
Guédioura – 6 – Not as lucky as against West Brom. Perhaps he had better players against him in the Sunderland defence? Right of MM to sub him for Jarvis in the second half.
Jarvis – 7 – His passes didn’t work too well over all and he didn’t get through the Sunderland defence many times, but it doesn’t matter as he had the best cross of the day and served Fletcher the winner ball.
Hunt – 7 – Gets an extra point for the assist to the Cradock goal, but otherwise he was not at all as dominant and excellent as against West Brom.
Ward – 7 – Very useful as he works on two positions at the same time. In this game he started to play beside Fletcher but moved behind him as we were starting to lose the midfield. Gets in everybody’s faces and works hard without having the full technical skills. Should have had a penalty when the Black Cat defender had to stop his perfect ball with his hand.
Fletcher – 8 – What a gal threat he is. He knows exactly what to do in the penalty area and he can do it despite two defenders on his back all the time. But outside of the area and defending from the front he is not so convincing. But what we need are goals and Steven Fletcher can deliver that and that’s all that matters to me and the survival in Premier League. Because of that Steven Fletcher is Paddytheflea’s Star Man!