A below par performance from a completely different Wolves XI to the one that faced Man City.
Ben’s article (see below) was at the back of my mind all night as I thought what a miserable turnout we managed. 11,00 showed up for what was ultimately a poor match but with a few new faces making an appearance.
We started brightly and I thought Vokes looked quite impressive teamed up with Doyle. The £6.5 million man went agonisingly close within 5 minutes and it really looked as if we might end up thumping our lower league opposition.
As the first half continued, Nathaniel Mendez-Laing on the right wing really came into the match, taking aim a few times and forcing some good saves from the Swindon keeper, as well as showing some neat touches and bits of skill. At only 17 years old I certainly look forward to seeing more of him.
Even Neill Collins (remember him?) had a decent shot.
My heart was in my mouth as Swindon did have the ball in the back of the net, but it was ruled out for offside. They also skimmed the crossbar as they enjoyed the better of the game towards the end of the half. However, it was Wolves who certainly seemed to have the upper hand in the first 45 but no goals to show for it.
After the break, Swindon improved but the match was still just as drab with a few long shots and no major incidents. On the hour mark, Mendez-Laing was replaced by Jarvis and Doyle by Keogh. The impact was immediate with Berra going close and Keogh taking a low drive. However, the next attack of any real note didn’t come until the last 10 minutes when the Swindon substitute Mark Marshall hit the outside of the post from a tight angle.
The final chance of the 90 minutes came to Wolves as Jarvis beat his man and the move ended with Keogh attempting a cheeky chip but narrowly missing. Through the second half Zubar, Berra and Hill looked comfortable at the back but Collins looked his usual inconsistent self making a few good tackles but also some poor decisions.
Into extra time and it seemed as though some people had already left. Whether they were unaware of the rules or it was just passed their bedtime, I couldn’t really blame them as it had been a poor spectacle.
The only chance in the first half of extra time came from Dave Edwards with a long strike forcing a good save from Swindon keeper Lucas. The second half wasn’t much better either. However, Swindon did make one clever break down their left side and Hahnemann took out the winger, getting none of the ball. He was lucky to get away with a yellow as I have seen keepers sent off for those before.
Onto the penalties in front of the South Bank. The scores were 5 each after normal penalties with Surman, Jones, Edwards, Keogh and Vokes taking them for Wolves and converting confidently. Swindon replied with 5 of their own and even their keeper getting in on the act. However they were probably helped by Hahnemann going right every time. Into sudden death and who steps up? None other than Big Neill. The stand was in disarray as many already resigned to the fact we had now lost. Collins then took one of the best penalties I have seen, smashing it into the top left and silencing the doubters. Swindon’s captain then hit the post but it seemed as if Hahnemann might have got to it anyway.
So Wolves are through by the skin of their teeth.
Onto the next round.
A player by player rundown:
Marcus Hahnemann – A good performance from the American despite not having too much to do. In comparison to Hennessey he was a lot more commanding and came out when it was needed, despite the poor sliding challenge a solid 7/1
Neill Collins – The man everyone seems to love to hate. By far not his worst outing but it is difficult to credit him for his defensive display and a lot of Swindon’s attacking opportunities seemed to come through him. His penalty and early shot do not make up for this. 5.5/10
Christophe Berra – The captain for the evening. Looked comfortable with everything that came at him and a good first performance of the season, certainly a contender for a place in the first squad. 8/10
Ronald Zubar – Many people’s first chance to see the French defender and he was easily the best defender on the park, all those problems about him not fitting seemed to go out the window as he and Berra hooked up well. I hope he does get a chance for the first team as he did play well and the fans definitely acknowledged him, chanting his name throughout. A deserved man of the match and 9/10
Matt Hill – A good consistent performance and he is my personal choice left back, even though Ward has served quite well in the Premier so far I would still pick him as he is stronger and more solid. 8/10
Nathaniel Mendez-Laing – A fantastic debut for the young academy player with many bits of trickey and some good shots. Worked very hard and perhaps would have got man of the match had he not been substituted. 8.5/10
Andrew Surman – Was kept quite quiet while playing in the centre but as he was moved to the wings he seemed to get more involved. Creating a few chances. 6.5/10
Dave Jones – Again, was kept rather quiet in the central role and even his specialty long shots were not great and kept to a minimum. Set pieces were poor. We definitely missed Henry and Milijas tonight. 6/10
George Elokobi – Started on the left wing and hooked up well with Hill creating a few good crosses and his running was great. Looking as strong as ever, he seemed to enjoy the position but did drift further back and into the middle and his short passes weren’t great. 7/10
Kevin Doyle – Another good performance from the Irishman but is yet to play a full 90 minutes. Looked strong on the ball and held it up well. Could have scored on a different day but an all round good turn out from him. 8.5/10
Sam Vokes – I am glad he got a full game (and then some) but he seemed to go missing after 20 minutes or so. Played well with Doyle for the first half, creating a few good passing moved. Definitely looks better as an impact sub but this may change with more experience. 7/10
Matt Jarvis – Got an excellent reception from the crowd for his performance at Eastlands and you could tell the difference immediately on the wings with good running and constantly beating his marker. His performances of late have been inconsistent but these last two show what he is capable of. 7/10
Andy Keogh – Man of the moment and another good performance. A few good efforts on goal but should have been more clinical when it mattered. Very few mistakes tonight and has proven he is deserving of a first team place. 8/10
Dave Edwards – Improved the midfield battle and had a very good effort saved by the keeper. Helped get through the defence but had little time to make that much of an impact. 7/10
Special mention also for the referee as he didn’t have a great night. He kicked a Swindon man into touch so the match could continue, fell over the ball as if wanting the free kick and dropped his cards in extra time.
This is my first match report and any constructive criticism is welcomed.