Oldham Athletic 0 Wolves 3

Following a third successive victory at a historically difficult venue to conquer, a hypothetical head-scratcher got me thinking…

McDonald Oldham

…If Brentford and Leyton Orient both pass the 100 point barrier and beat us to promotion, would this season be a failure?

After arguably our most encouraging victory of the campaign – against a team more competitive than most – we are on course for an incredible points haul of 95 come the end of the season, were we to keep this up.

However, Brentford and Leyton Orient are on course to rewrite history, with 102 and 101 points on the cards respectively if they carry on in such outrageous fashion.

It begs the question: Can we possibly criticise this rapidly evolving team if it misses out to a ‘once-in-a-million’ freak season?

In any other year, a 3-0 win at Boundary Park would be regarded as a promotion defining benchmark.

Just our luck that we can also view it as a play-off cementing result, when we’d doubtless be 20 points clear of some god forsaken side.

For now, such questions can wait as we bask in a feeling that has eluded us for so long.

This 17th success of the season owed much to a resolute defensive showing, a spritely attacking display and a virtuoso performance by match winner Kevin McDonald.

According to Radio WM, the Scot resembled that big kid in the under-12 school team, whose growth spurt made him virtually untouchable.

Where our number 11 stood head and shoulders above the rest, Jack Price sounded like the perfect foil for him once more.

And when Jacobs and sub Henry added gloss to the scoreline late on, Kenny Jackett can point to three goalscorers who he signed himself.

Photo0089_0011

Winning at a difficult away ground is one thing, but standing up to a pretty physical onslaught is quite another.

Unlike those miserable Solbakken and Saunders seasons, we all appear to be in this together.

Couple such team spirit with Kenny’s astute additions and the combination appears irresistible.

Whether it’s potent enough to provide a positive answer to that question I had will soon become clear.

Highlights

Oldham Athletic Vs Wolves Preview

Oldham away on a blustery Tuesday evening is the sort of fixture that can make or break a promotion-chasing season.

Oldham Wolves

Digging out a result, particularly a win, you feel would be significant over a team we’ve already played three times this season.

The league match at Molineux back in October turned into a routine win after their goalie spilled a cross onto the foot of James Henry. But the performance was less than convincing.

Wolves weren’t as fortunate in the FA Cup where Oldham deservedly progressed after dominating the replay.

Kenny Jackett has been able to mastermind a significant increase in performance levels since then, so this promises to be an interesting encounter.

Oldham

Performance of the weekend belonged to the Latics as they battled back from 3-0 and 4-2 down to beat Peterborough 5-4 on Saturday.

Lee Johnson’s men needed that boost after narrow back-to-back defeats against Walsall and Port Vale had threatened to drag them back into relegation strife.

Their home form reads won 5, drawn 3, lost 4, scored 16, conceded 15 – so very little to pick out of that other than to expect a tight game.

When you take out the 9 goals that were shared around at the weekend, you realise how difficult it’s been for teams to take anything from Boundary Park this season.

Wolves

Other than resting players, there’s no real reason to change Saturday’s team. I just wonder if Kenny Jackett might be thinking of handing Sako a start?

Wolves team for Oldham

It’s hard to foresee Griffiths or Doyle starting given that both are being heavily linked with the exit door. If both were to leave you wonder whether one striker (Leon Clarke) would be enough to fill the void.

A couple of interesting days lie ahead, which I’m sure we’ll all be reflecting on in May as being pivotal to our season.

The odds

Wolves are favourites for the win at 11/10. Oldham are 14/5 and the draw is 5/2.

If you fancy Nouha Dicko to carry on where he left off on Saturday you can get 5/1 on him opening the scoring. Kevin McDonald came close against Bristol City and he’s long overdue a goal. He’s at 12/1.

All odds are available here.

The gaffer

Predictions

It was points galore again in the PL as 54 people correctly thought we’d overcome Bristol City.

11 pundits also got the 3-1 scoreline to double up so well done to all of them.

Really stuck on the fence for this one. I don’t think Oldham will let us dictate the play as we’ve been able to do at home in recent weeks.

But we have the far superior quality, so on that basis I’ll back us to edge it.

2-1

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.

Oldham Athletic 1 Wolves 1

I imagine the first round of the FA Cup is a day of great excitement for some.

Golbourne

Not least the non-league sides who can bankroll their club’s very existence with a short run in the competition.

And it’s because of plucky underdogs like Boreham Wood and Dover Athletic that I feel guilty for admitting I was barely interested.

Were you?

I don’t think the tie itself helped matters. Oldham away was probably the most uninspiring fixture the footballing gods could have handed down.

Maybe a game against one of the minnows, a local derby or a head-to-head to with one of our promotion rivals would have got the juices flowing.

But a blustery November afternoon at a half empty Boundary Park didn’t really appeal. Hats off to the hardcore that made that particular trip.

For these reasons, I suppose it would have been easy for Wolves to sink after conceding a sloppy early goal.

The fact they didn’t is characteristic of the renewed spirit Kenny Jackett has injected into the squad.

A period of neat football rewarded Dave Edwards with two presentable chances but after good runs forward, his finishes lacked bite.

Fortunately Scott Golbourne was less profligate, smartly flicking home the equaliser with his head/oblong barnet.

He could have won it too had he been as ruthless late on, but fired high into the cloudy sky after steaming in late at the back post. Maybe he should have gone with his haircut?

Carl Ikeme performed his usual heroics to keep the Latics out and force what’s sure to be a sell-out replay at Molineux.

Mansfield await in round two. I was hoping for Dover.

Highlights

Talking point

I’m probably the worst kind of supporter when it comes to the cup competitions. I moan about the early stages, but happily jump on the bandwagon if it gets interesting. What do you think about the FA Cup? Do you still feel the romance?

Wolves 2 Oldham Athletic 0

Never let it be said that football fans don’t have a good sense of humour.

Wolves Oldham

As a deluge of monsoon rainfall soaked hoards of hard suffering supporters to the bone, my eyes were averted to the Steve Bull lower tier and an away banner that read: ‘Fortune favours the brave.’

For those sodden Oldham Athletic followers – watching their team in what looked like a 4-6-0 formation – never had a slogan looked so laughably inappropriate.

For most of us, visiting Molineux has felt like the end of the world these past two seasons, but never has the playing conditions taken on such literal proportions.

It was as if the tears of Barry Stobart, Peter Broadbent and Waggy had all fallen from heaven at once, as the realisation dawned that Sky Bet League One football genuinely looked like this.

At least the Billy Wright Stand was deafening for the first time since being built. The sound of the tropical rainfall crashing upon its roof cranked up the decibels to unprecedented levels, much to the distraction of the poor old buggers in their flat caps who’d never heard noise like it since…

…Barry Stobart, Peter Broadbent and Waggy.

Thankfully for everyone concerned, the weather relented for the second half and the football became much easier on the eye.

For Oldham Athletic, it never rained but poured, as the skiddy surface aided a ricochet off James Henry to creep into the South Bank net following great wing play by Sako.

To rub mud into gaffer Lee Johnson’s trousers, one of our players (Henry again?) used the conditions to slide under the statuesque manager to catapult him into the night sky and onto his backside.

It was a hilarious sight to coincide with an uplifting second half performance.

Our cult hero Leigh Griffiths was soon singing in the rain when he dispatched a low shot in off the post following more brilliance from Bakary, skidding with more purpose and poise than his namesake just moments before.

On the whole, our 4-5-1 formation worked well and a pleasing amount of patience from supporters and players alike was instrumental in what eventually proved to be a regulation win.

James Henry is a real outlet on the right hand side, bringing balance to our midfield.

Alongside him, a bearded Jack Price was as dominant as Captain Pugwash on the seven seas as he negotiated Molineux’s choppy waters.

Lee Evans’ intelligence made for a welcome return and coupled with Kevin McDonald’s all-round presence, our ‘five’ across the middle looked more mobile than it might sound.

And at the back, Danny Batth and Sam Ricketts looked as resolute as their defensive record suggests.

It was one of those games where they all played well and will all deserve Kenny Jackett’s plaudits.

For all those of Gold and Black persuasion, fortune did indeed favour the brave this evening.

For the Oldham fan left peeling his stinking great banner from the rows of sodden empty seats at the final whistle – before lugging it 85 miles home in his fuel inefficient car – your time will come.

Wolves Vs Oldham Athletic Preview

The disappointment of not winning every game is being exacerbated by the form of the two teams above us.

Oldham

Saturday wasn’t a bad result against a decent Coventry side who look destined for a top six finish.

But with Leyton Orient and Peterborough wracking up the points, our late slip up feels like the end of the world. It isn’t.

Both of those clubs will drop plenty of points, don’t worry about that. You only have to look at Tranmere last season, who were clear at the top for months only to end up in midtable.

It’s still too early to fret over every point.

Oldham Athletic

I saw Oldham play Preston earlier in the season. They dominated the game, bossed possession and created stacks of chances. But lost 2-1.

Is that the story of their season I wonder and the reason they’re down in 18th place, just three points outside the relegation zone?

The Latics do however come into this off the back of a vital 1-0 home win over Carlisle at the weekend.

At just 32 years of age, Lee Johnson, son of Yeovil manager Gary, is the youngest manager in the football league (I believe). He took over last season and only just prevented them from dropping into League Two, with a 19th place finish.

I know little about their players but I do know joint leading scorer Charlie MacDonald misses this game through injury. They also have former Blues striker Adam Rooney in their ranks, who has three goals to his name this season.

Wolves

It will be interesting to see if Kenny uses his squad with these two home games so close together and another match to come at the weekend. I would field our strongest team if possible though, which is probably:

Wolves Oldham team

KJ has rotated the strikers on occasion this season, so it won’t be a great surprise if Siggy gets the nod over Doyle or Griffiths, but I thought both of those players made strong contributions in their own ways at the weekend.

Jack Price has recovered from a reported case of ‘double vision’, which perhaps explains his wayward passing prior to being taken off at the weekend. It’s probably a coin toss between him and Davis for a starting spot.

The odds

Wolves are hot favourites for this one at 8/13. You can get 5/1 on any Oldham victory and 16/5 on the draw.

If you fancy James Henry to grab his first goal of the evening (and his first for Wolves) he’s available at 12/1.

Danny Batth looks our most likely scorer from all set pieces, so he’s good value at 25/1.

All odds are available from here.

Predictions

21 people correctly sniffed a banana skin on Saturday and predicted the draw. Four of those also said 1-1 to get maximum points.

Well done to Wolves4ever, Ash K, Linden and Whitestone Wolf for doubling up. It’s a single for everyone else.

We should win this game and it would be nice to do it with a degree of comfort for a change at home.

It’s never that easy is it though?

I’ll go for a narrow 2-1.

Up The Wolves