West Ham Utd 1 Wolves 0

If you’re still thinking about the defeat at Upton Park, you’re in the minority.

Edwards West Ham

Even without the news Benik Afobe was heading for the exit, this was a tedious cup tie of few chances that won’t hang about long in the old grey matter.

Unless you’re Bjorn Sigurdarson of course, who suffered what looks like a serious re-occurance of the troublesome back injury that’s kept him sidelined for months.

That must be considered a serious blow to our immediate fortunes, given that our talisman is off to Bournemouth and Adam Le Fondre hasn’t looked up to leading the line all season.

On a more positive note, Michal Zyro impressed on his debut and with Kenny Jackett stating he can play in any of the forward positions, he’s certain to be consistently involved.

With injuries and outgoing transfers, yesterday’s squad was bolstered by the return of a few forgotten faces.

Along with the unfortunate Sigurdarson, Rajiv van La Parra was also thrown straight back into the action and George Saville made an appearance on the bench.

With Afobe’s exit imminent and Jed Wallace loaned out to Millwall, it seems likely those loaned out players will get a chance to play themselves back into contention.

But there will surely be fresh blood added and a level of re-investment through January to support the head coach for the remainder of the season?

Many are rightly skeptical that sizable sums will be spent, but with the spectre of early bird sales on the horizon, the club know they need to galvanise the support.

That must count for something.

If nothing else, yesterday’s performance was another strong rearguard action with the team defending manfully throughout and restricting a Premier League side to limited opportunities.

That solid platform will continue to serve us well, but I don’t think anyone believes we have adequate artillery to be consistently successful.

An experienced head at the back to further improve our defensive options and and preferably two good forwards must be added.

Anything less and this will be another transfer window the fans most certainly won’t forget.

West Ham Utd Vs Wolves Preview

There was an interesting stat doing the rounds this week.

West Ham celebrate2

Based solely on away form, Wolves would be 4th in the Championship table this season (and 20th based on home form).

Looking at the makeup of our team, that kind of makes sense.

Whereas last term we were more swashbuckling going forward and able to open teams up at Molineux, this season we’ve been more effective playing on the break.

This was again the case at Brighton where we were forced to endure long spells of pressure, but counterattacked effectively, particularly in the first half.

I suspect the lads will be doing their share of defending tomorrow and it’s a good test against a strong West Ham outfit.

West Ham

West_Ham_United_FC.svgSlavan Bilic may ring the changes, but he’s limited by their lengthy injury list. Moses, Sakho and the impressive Lanzini are all on the sidelines.

But Dimitri Payet is back and he’s been an integral part of their impressive season to date.

Andy Carroll is also enjoying a run of games and he’ll be a handful for our burgeoning centre half partnership.

They’re a difficult team to beat these days because they have both physical power and technical ability.

They’ve won their last two Premier League matches and are unbeaten in seven, which has seen them rise sixth.

It’s been a great start for Bilic and they look ideally positioned for a decent cup run if they can avoid banana skins.

Wolves

There’s a midweek Championship game hot on the heels of tomorrow, but I don’t think Kenny will ring the changes.

Wolves team for West Ham

Jordan Graham is rated as 50/50 and it’ll be a shame if he doesn’t get the chance to test himself against a good Premier League side.

But if he doesn’t make it, perhaps Michal Zyro will get an immediate start? I’m looking forward to seeing if he can add something different to our attacking threat.

The team will have to be compact defensively as they have been in recent times, but West Ham will have better quality and more importantly a variety of ways to hurt us.

The gaffer

Predictions

We’re well overdue a cup run and to do that you normally have to cause a couple of upsets, so this would be a decent start.

But it’s tough to expect anything other than a defeat if you’re examining the evidence logically.

I just hope the players give a good account of themselves to keep confidence in the camp high ahead of some winnable home fixtures in the league.

I think we’ll get skittled tomorrow but I’ll back us to get on the scoresheet.

3-1

Up The Wolves!

Wolves 3 Fulham 3 (Fulham win 5-3 on penalties)

Yes, we got knocked out of the cup and yes, we snatched an early exit from the jaws of the Stadium of Light, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Fulham Wolves

With visions of Sir Jack’s beaming smile etched in our minds, neither a processional victory nor a dour defeat would have quite done justice to the great man somehow.

With the house he built looking like a winter wonderland, our dear, dear president would had cast a nodding wink from those snowclouds as we flitted between bewilderment, hope, excitement and anguish.

Under the tenure of Sir Jack Hayward at Wolves, it was ever thus.

The fact that we expended so much energy to ultimately bow out of Sir Jack’s favourite competition mattered little, however twee that may sound.

More important was a performance to do some degree of justice to him after so sadly passing away earlier in the day.

We were pretty wretched in the first half against a vastly superior Fulham, but looked reinvigorated in the second period with the introduction of Dicko and Edwards.

And then all of a sudden, we looked bloody brilliant.

The two subs were unplayable, Price looked priceless and the Stearman / Batth pairing was colossus, towering like those old floodlight pylons that captured Sir Jack’s imagination.

And then, like so many seasons under his leadership, we dared to contemplate a Premier League proposition. Perchance to dream…

‘Are we going to play Sunderland now?” asked my little lad, at the precise moment Lee Evans squandered possession in the middle of the pitch with seconds remaining and easy balls everywhere.

“No son, not now….But we had a brilliant time didn’t we?”

The gaffer

Fulham 0 Wolves 0

Following this game on Twitter as it ticked into injury time, a lot of fans seemed to suggest they’d rather lose than draw.

Wolves Fulham

That’s disappointing.

OK, Molineux will be like a morgue for the replay and the game itself probably won’t be a classic, but I for one am glad to see Wolves in the hat on Monday.

And if we’re lucky enough to progress against Fulham at the second time of asking, I’ll be hoping the next round offers a realistic chance of going further.

No Chelsea or Man City please.

As for this game, the BBC suggested it had goalless draw scribbled all over it from the first kick. The highlights though showed an open game with a handful of chances for both teams.

Leon Clarke wasted the best of the lot, poking wide after a Sako bullet came back off the post and presented him with an open goal. Kenny Jackett suggested it came at him fast, but the striker’s forlorn reaction speaks volumes.

As usual, Sako was Wolves’ most potent attacking threat but with him now out of the picture until February, it will be interesting to see who the main benefactor is.

James Henry was back in the team yesterday and he also came close to preventing a replay. Perhaps he can be the man to replace Sako’s menace?

Interestingly, Kenny Jackett only brought on one substitute yesterday, giving Nouha Dicko a half hour run out after Clarke again misfired in a rare start.

That probably says a lot about the manager’s opinion of the other attacking options at his disposal, namely Michael Jacobs and Liam McAlinden.

Reinforcements seem likely to arrive before the month is out so both of those players might well be heading for an exit, temporarily or otherwise.

As for the cup tie, I’d still rather be in than out.

* You can watch highlights of the game on the BBC site here.

Fulham Vs Wolves Preview

It was pleasing to hear Kenny Jackett say he’d be fielding the strongest team possible against Fulham tomorrow.

Screen Shot 2015-01-02 at 19.33.20

After all, if we’re not going to at least try and win the FA Cup, what else is there to look forward to?

Bobbing up and down the divisions is a swell ride don’t get me wrong, but it’s not the same as major silverware.

In recent times we’ve seen the likes of Sheffield United, Wigan, Millwall and Bradford all progress into the latter stages of cup competitions, while Wolves have consistently bombed out in the early rounds.

I’ve never been to Wembley because I vowed not to go to a match at the national stadium until Wolves were involved. As time goes on, this is becoming a more irksome promise to keep.

Fulham

Fulham_FC_LogoThis was a miserable tie to get, but I’d rather be playing Fulham with a chance of progressing than the likes of a Chelsea or Arsenal, where defeat is almost inevitable.

We’ve won at Craven Cottage already this season, but the Cottagers were struggling to get the engine started back then. Now they’ve got a new manager and are up towards midtable.

Kit Symons quickly built up some good momentum after taking over but his side have lost their last two in the league against Bournemouth and Brighton. Their home record reads won 5, lost 5, drawn 2.

They’re not short of individual quality and the likes of Scott Parker, Hugo Rodallega and Ross McCormack have all hurt Wolves in the past.

Wolves

Kortney Hause is cup-tied and Kevin McDonald suspended, so it will be interesting to see which players come into the side to fill the gaps. I suspect the team will look something like this:

Wolves team for Fulham

With Sako off to AFCON and Tommy Rowe ruled out for several months by injury, doors could open up for the likes of George Saville and Michael Jacobs. Both have more to offer than they’ve shown so far this season.

The gaffer

Predictions

With our best side out, we’ve got a good chance of progressing but I don’t think there’s a lot to choose between the two sides.

It’s practically impossible to say with any degree of certainty how any game against fellow Championship opposition might go, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this went to a replay.

2-2

Up The Wolves!

Wolves 1 Oldham Athletic 2

So excruciatingly bad was this game of football that I created an ingenious new ‘Ebanks Name Game’ for me and Dad to play, in an attempt to avert our minds from it.

North bank vs Oldham

Before I muster up a match report, I will share the crazy little teaser with you all, as I’m that kind of guy.

The Ebanks Name Game is where you attach the ‘Ebanks’ moniker to another Wolves player who you think is most befitting of it, with the aim of making the player sound more desirable and technically gifted as a result.

I opted for Carl Ebanks Ikeme while Dad plumped for Danny Ebanks Batth. Both now sound more expensive and genetically compelling in our opinions.

Leigh Ebanks Griffiths is way too elaborate for a player who just wants to score, while Kevin Ebanks McDonald sounds too cumbersome and clunky, so they obviously wouldn’t work.

Suffice to say, my cousin – who decided to sit with us for the first time since I can ever remember – moved to another seat at half-time without so much of a goodbye.

Good on you Wolves. As if watching you play so terribly in freezing conditions was bad enough, my family are now going to think I’m a twat for inventing a game that was just meant to be a bit of fun.

And as for the game itself…

…If I must bring myself to offer some sort of insight, I would ask you to close your eyes and picture the Notts County JPT game. Multiply it by 10 in terms of ineptitude. Square the end result and you’re coming close to the spectacle on show.

Despite Ikeme’s fumble for the opener, he was still man-of-the-match as he made two terrific one-on-one saves. Stearman at least showed inclination, while McDonald was generally tidy.

The rest, without question, were terrible.

The only miracle was how Jack Price didn’t suffer a migraine from the experience – featuring a blinding pink ball that was clearly too effeminate for us to want to keep.

The ‘fundamentals’ that underpin an under-10s team, never mind a professional outfit, went inexplicably AWOL.

Batth looked uncharacteristically leaden footed and susceptible under the long ball, Golbourne was nothing short of hopeless on the left, while Griffiths’ usually sumptuous first touch was bloody terrible.

Meanwhile, Jake Cassidy looked worryingly out of his depth while George Elokobi underlined his ‘least technically gifted player in the history of Wolves FC’ with the worst first half showing I have ever, ever seen.

The crowd was an equally pitiful sight too, in a competition that much of our rich heritage was founded upon.

A competition that evoked an ‘It’s Ours’ high, Sir Billy smiling with Her Majesty in 1949 and Bill Slater on the shoulders of giants in 1960.

In today’s pseudo world we must call home, they may as well call it the Ebanks FA Cup and have done with it.