Analysis & Ratings: Wolves v Fulham
Thank you Wolverhampton Wanderers! The first home game of the season is a very important game as it will give the players confidence and the supporters hope for the future. And we have loads of it right now!
As I told you in my pre-match article yesterday we would win with two goals and a clean sheet and that’s exactly what happened. I didn’t get the right goalscorers, though, but Jarvo and Doyler was of course the obvious choice. Maybe too easy. 😆
Actually the first 40 or so minutes were quite boring. Much play in a crowded midfield or with Fulham playing the ball sideways between their defenders not showing much will of going forward. They looked to be satisfied with a draw, which was to be expected. For that reason aswell I’m satisfied that we “footballed them off the pitch” as manager McCarthy did put it after the game.
But it was in fact Fulham who came closest to a goal after just ten minutes gone of the game. He got the ball from the Fulham right wing and as Johnson went ball watching he had free sight to shoot at the goal from just outside the area. Luckily he hit the ball badly and it came to nothing.
After half an hour Kevin Doyle gave himself an excellent opportunity to give Wolves the lead when he snatched the ball from Hangeland to the left and had a clear path to goal, but when he turned he came slightly off balance and the shot went over the bar.
Ten minutes later he redeemed himself, however, after a corner by Jarvis who tucked it short to Hunt who found Doyler to the left close to goal. Doyle turned and came free from his defender and this time he did no mistake, but cool as a cucumber he lifted the ball to the roof of the net with the south stand going wild as a result.
It was as if the team had thought through that they wanted to decide the game before they changed sides as there were no spectators on the north stand, being under construction. 😆 To amuse the supporters of the south stand before it was too late Johnson hit the post with a header from a center by Hunt and Jarvis came perfect to hit the back of the net with a controlled side-footer. Two to nothing and the referee ended first half.
As the second half begun I hoped that the team had the defensive skills to hold on to the lead against a Fulham team that now had to go forward to get anything from the game. They changed Etuhu for Sidwell and their nineteen-year-old new signing Kasami for Dembele. Wolves made no changes for the team.
Fulham had a lot of ball at the start of the first half, but Wolves finished the half with most of the possession. I was a bit worried at times when the back four had the ball too far down the pitch. Except Ward they don’t have great skills passing the ball around, something that both Berra and Johnson demonstrated a few times.
In the second half Wolves started as they finished – well, apart from the goals that is. We had a lot of possession and didn’t bother to go forward as much as in the first half. A controlled behaviour that aimed first hand to guard the lead. I got a little scared when Duff had a chance to score early on in the half, but his boots were not made for scoring today, as it seemed.
Sometimes it looked like Fulham had given up the game already and Wolves were really closer to score a third goal than the Londoners their first. Some gaps opened up when they tried to go forward, of course, and Wolves went close on a couple of occasions without any luck. O’Hara, Hunty and Fletcher all came close to scoring.
Fulham was awfully sloppy with the ball on a couple of occasions aswell. Maybe their match in the Europa league lingered on in their heads and legs, I don’t know, but we also made them look out of touch with some very good footballing.
One of the last chances in the game went to Fulham when they put some pressure on the Wolves defence in the dying minutes of the game, but Wardy made a perfect last second tackle and got a foot on it to deny them to get anything but tired from the game.
To the ratings, then!
Stearman – 6 – Back from his – as it proved to be – minor back injury he did very well at right back. I thought Foley did good enough to take his position, but I was wrong. But the problem is that he, like the central defenders, is a bit challenged when it comes to holding and passing the ball around.
Johnson – 6 – Went so very close to score, but he will get more chances, I’m sure. A clean sheet says a lot about the performance of the back four, of course, but he went ball watching on one occasion and made a wrong pass that led to Fulham attacking and having a chance on goal. Because of this he will only get an average rating for todays game.
Berra – 7 – Stopped Andrew Johnson in his butt on numerous occasions and also got forward on a couple of occasions. Headed the ball away from the danger area on several occasions and actually outshone captain Johnson a little.
Ward – 8 – As I said above he saved us from a certain goal in the back towards the end of the game. He is the best player on the ball of the back four and sometimes make very clever passes to Jarvis, Fletcher and Hunt in the deep with good precision. Has taken huge steps in his development the last year and again makes me utter; why should we sign another left back? He gets the bouncing smiley!
Henry – 7 – He played much better than against Blackburn and even had a good chance on goal. Only thing I saw that is worth negative critique is that he came back late to defend at one time, but that is a minor thing. Together with a couple of other Wolves players he ruled midfield and that was one of the keys to our success today.
Jarvis – 8 – Behind both of the goals today again and now he was more involved than against Blackburn – at least in first half of the game. He says that he aims for regaining his place in the national team and if he continues to play like this I believe he will reach his goal.
Very close to a nine, and he will get my little star!
O’Hara – 8 – Another player who was better in this game than against Blackburn. He ruled midfield and was behind numerous of Wolves attacks, but he also helped lots in defending and made the Fulham midfielders look out of touch. Very close to score on a couple of occasions and he has goals in him.
Hunt – 9 – It was almost the perfect game for Hunty today. The only thing he didn’t do was to score and he made a wrong pass in the 12th minute. Have you seen how clever he is in close combat? Fantastic! The most energetic player in Wolves for the second match and crucial to the win today.He was replaced after 85 minutes to standing ovations. Rightly so!
He must be a great inspiration to the other players and work like a yard-stick to measure up to for them. He went close to get the big star last week, but today I must say that Hunt is Paddytheflea’s Star Man!
Doyle – 8 – Almost back at his best and much more involved than against Blackburn. The goal was very well taken and it made me totally forget his miss after half an hour. Good to see that he still can be a great asset upfront and I believe we will see many more goals from him this season. A player who has the ability to score from nothing and create his own luck. Just what we need.
Fetcher – 8 – Lots of half chances in the game but the word has gone out about his skills now and he was heavily under guard during the game. Actually his first game in six that he didn’t score, but he can do it again against Villa instead. Deal?
And as I write this we are second in the league…😆
P.S. Links to highlights in the right margin as usual.D.S