Stevenage 0 Wolves 0

When my most memorable season as a Wolves fan was precisely 25 years ago, it’s impossible not to draw comparisons with today’s ‘division three’ elect.

Stevenage Wolves

Nostalgia tells me that Graham Turner’s third tier side never lost a game in those heady Scoreline days, as we hit four, five or six goals per game with Bully blazing a trail into Bobby Robson’s England squad.

In another 25 years from now, I’ll probably be thinking the same of Kenny Jackett’s Old Gold visions of beauty as McDonald, Jacobs and Henry induce similar levels of dewy-eyed sentimentality.

A 0-0 draw with Stevenage will presumably be long forgotten, just as seldom few recall 3-1 defeats to lowly Northampton Town and relegated Southend United when we were equally invincible in ’89.

Both squads provided boundless levels of happiness but despite reminiscence suggesting otherwise, both were fallible.

Our stalemate at Broadhall Way reminds us that nothing can be taken for granted, despite our current 87 point haul already being enough to win the Barclays Division 3 championship in 1989 by three clear points (from Harry Bassett’s Sheffield United on 84).

James Henry, our modern day Robbie Dennison, sustained an unwanted first half injury and Michael Jacobs – a tad more Phil Robinson by comparison – appeared to struggle with a bout of ill-health during the opening 45 minutes as well.

It led to a fragmented performance against a predictably gutsy Stevenage, with sub Dicko replacing Henry and Saturday’s match-winner McAlinden apparently operating in a wider role behind Clarke up-top.

Any comparison between our Leon and Andy Mutch is stretching things a touch too far, as our number nine bore a better resemblance to Jackie Gallagher, drawing a save from Stevenage keeper Day in the best chance of the game.

From the 95.6 FM airwaves, there was nothing to separate the two sides with a draw the very least Stevenage deserved.

Under the circumstances it’s a good one, as we chalk off a point from the 11 we needed before this game to be mathematically sure.

We now move to the next one at Molineux on Saturday where radio headsets, calculators and Manders Paint memories will again come into focus, like they did tonight.

Thomas: I’ve had a message from a fan in Australia who wants to get in touch with a Wolves Supporters Group based in Sydney. If anyone has their information or is a member, please drop me in an email via the contact form.

Stevenage Vs Wolves Preview

March was supposed to represent a pivotal examination of Wolves’ promotion credentials.

Stevenage Wolves

Six wins from eight matches ensured a comfortable pass.

As was so famously uttered in commentary at Cardiff back in 2003, they can reach out and touch it.

Promotion is within grasp and a win over bottom side Stevenage tomorrow will make life very difficult for any of the chasing pack.

Victory would take Wolves to 89 points, which could conceivably be enough points to wrap up second place already, not that I’m gambling on that.

Stevenage

Stevenage logoThe home side come into the game propping up the table but a win could transport them out of the relegation zone and as high as 19th place. Added motivation if any is needed.

Broadhall Way hasn’t been a fortress, but Graham Westley’s men have accumulated six wins and four draws from their nineteen matches to date.

They’re without a victory in any of their last five matches, most recently salvaging a 1-1 draw at home to Port Vale at the weekend.

14 goal top scorer Francois Zoko is one to watch, but will need to be more ruthless than he was at Molineux a few months back when he squandered a straightforward chance to bring his team back into the game.

Wolves

With Wolves toiling for much of the game Saturday, Bakary Sako’s presence was missed. He could well be out again tomorrow.

Wolves team for Stevenage

Dicko found the going tough as the lone striker so I’m forecasting a recall for Leon Clarke. The team that started against Colchester would be fine with me.

Liam McAlinden’s name hasn’t been mentioned much, particularly since Wolves found a winning formula, but he could yet have a significant role to play. Would a start for the academy graduate be a major surprise tomorrow?

The odds

Wolves are 9/2 favourites for the win. The draw is 11/4 and a Stevenage win is 9/2.

Goals from set pieces have been in short supply and a headed goal from either Batth or Stearman is long overdue. They’re 25/1 and 28/1 respectively for the opener tomorrow.

All odds can checked here.

The gaffer

Predictions

I haven’t got round to totting up the scores from the weekend yet chaps (and chapettes), but suffice to say most people went for the win.

Winning tomorrow would put us in such a favourable position that you feel something has to go wrong.

But it’s top versus bottom, so there’s only one logical outcome, assuming the lads don’t do anything silly.

3-1

Up The Wolves

Stevenage Vs Wolves Preview

MATCH POSTPONED

I’m really hoping this isn’t another wasted preview.

Wolves Stevenage

No official pitch inspection has been reported as I write this, but plenty of Stevenage fans have taken to Twitter to log postponement predictions.

If it does get called off, the prospect of another tricky midweek away match awaits, which is far from ideal.

There are already eight (yes eight) League One matches scheduled for March. The sort of fixture congestion the top brass love to moan about.

Stevenage

Stevenage_Football_ClubScoring goals has been Stevenage’s problem this season. Only Sheffield United (26) have scored fewer than their 27.

They remain bottom of the table, but two wins in their last three against Swindon and Gillingham have given Graham Westley’s team renewed hope of survival.

With 7 home defeats already and just 4 wins, The Lamex Stadium hasn’t been a fortress, so Wolves should (theoretically) have little to fear.

Francois Zoko is their main threat and he has 7 league goals this season. Quite how he failed to add to that tally at Molineux earlier in the season is anyone’s guess. He missed an open goal.

Wolves

Four wins in a row is exactly the type of response we needed after that disastrous loss at Gillingham. Momentum has been regained and performance levels are at a season-high.

Wolves team for Crawley

Kenny Jackett believes Wolves can get by with the striking options he has on the basis that even if he only has one fit, he can use the likes of Edwards or Evans or Jacobs tucked in behind. Recent evidence suggests he’s probably right.

But with Clarke in the team it looks a slightly more conventional 442. It will be interesting to see if KJ maintains that team or considers bringing James Henry or Lee Evans back in for more midfield support.

The odds

Wolves are strong favourites for the win at 3/4. Stevenage are 21/5 and the draw is 14/5.

If you’d taken my tip on Kevin McDonald as first scorer for the last two matches, you’d have been even more pleased with recent results than most. He’s a less profitable 8/1 this week.

All odds can be found here.

The gaffer

Predictions

71 of you thought Wolves would overcome Bradford last weekend. Well done to the 13 who also got the 2-0 scoreline to double their points tally.

Logic can only dictate that Wolves win this game. We’re in good form, we’ve got better players and Stevenage are the league’s bottom side.

Of course there’s always the nagging suspicion that on a tight pitch with the crowd close to the action an upset could be on the cards. But I think we’re good enough to overcome the situation.

2-0

Up The Wolves!

Wolves 2 Stevenage 0

Contrary to popular belief, winning isn’t so much habit, more a by-product of good decisions.

Wolves Stevenage

And up to this point in a highly satisfactory campaign, Wolves are making all the right calls.

Bakary Sako again justified his employer’s bullish stance in retaining his mercurial services with a third assist in the last two home matches.

After out-pacing, out-muscling and out-maneuvering his full-back, a perfectly weighted cross gave Kevin Doyle a tap in.

Matt Doherty was again absent, but Kenny Jackett made the smart choice, opting to deploy Richard Stearman alongside Danny Batth, moving Samuel Ricketts to right-back.

Stearman made crucial blocks and interceptions as Stevenage grew into the game and the skipper proved a much better equipped outlet shifted wide.

That’s not to say Carl Ikeme’s goal didn’t again enjoy a charmed existence. A series of half chances were squandered by the visitors before François Zoko shot meekly at Ikeme with the net gaping.

James Henry wasn’t so profligate minutes later, darting in behind before calmly slotting home. From one end of the pitch to the other, that stark ruthlessness is in a microcosm why Wolves continually get the job done.

Henry has brought a useful goal appetite to a team that was already finding the net with pleasing regularity. I’m sure Millwall will be monitoring his form closely. Just how secure is the agreement Wolves have in place for the winger beyond January?

With the points bagged Jamie O’Hara was given a soft return to action, receiving warm applause interspersed with murmured jeers. Molineux as always providing the acid barometer of public opinion.

The midfielder showed some neat touches in a comfortable cameo and will feel that perhaps the hardest step has now been taken. I suspect his inclusion will be more frequent in the weeks to come, particularly if Kevin McDonald remains sidelined.

And with more injuries inevitable through the winter months, how efficiently the manager utilises the relative strength of the squad will be key to the team’s success.

If what we’ve seen so far is anything to go by, we can safely trust his judgment.

Talking point

I’ve noticed comments have dwindled on match reports, perhaps as a pleasant consequence of the fact we all have so little to complain about. But I’m introducing this new section to hopefully kick-off some lively discussion. Please do join in and leave a comment as debate is the lifeblood of the blog.

With Kevin McDonald missing yesterday’s game through injury, Kenny Jackett restored the midfield partnership that started the season so impressively in Davis and Evans. But with McDonald, O’Hara, Price and Edwards all available, which two would you pick?

Highlights

Reaction

Wolves Vs Stevenage Preview

I believe I’m correct in saying this is the first ever meeting between Wolves and Stevenage.

Stevenage

They’ve enjoyed a meteoric rise through the leagues and this is the highest they’ve ever climbed the ladder.

In their first season in League One two years ago, they snuck into the play-offs and were only narrowly edged out by Sheffield United.

Last season was tougher though, with Boro only managing an 18th place finish and narrowly avoiding the drop.

Stevenage

This season looks like being another tough slog for them and they currently occupy 17th spot, just two points above the dotted line.

But they come into this game on the back of two wins, a 3-0 victory at Crewe and an impressive 2-0 at home to Crawley.

Manager Graham Westley is now into his third stint at the helm, having left the club briefly to manage Preston before returning when things went tits up.

Kenny Jackett is expecting a more direct threat, so it will be interesting to see how Wolves handle that at home, with most teams visiting Molineux opting to play through midfield.

Wolves

With so much talk about Jamie O’Hara’s return at Bradford last week, it’s entirely conceivable he won’t even make the bench tomorrow. Jack Price is one again fit and with Wolves almost certain to start with two strikers, at least one midfielder will bite the bullet.

Wolves team for Stevenage

All being well, I think that will be the team we see. Sigurdarson hasn’t been handed a start for quite some time, so if Griffiths doesn’t recover from his cold, he’ll hopefully be keen to impress.

On O’Hara, if he is fully fit I do think he’d improve our team. His ability in possession is superior to that of his midfield colleagues. Mobility is the issue, something that was woefully exposed last season.

Perhaps playing in this more physically capable, possession based team would allow him to remind us about the positive attributes he can bring to the fold. Many will disagree I’m sure.

The odds

Wolves are huge favourites to win this one at 1/2. Stevenage are 13/2 and the draw is 7/2.

You have to go a long way down the first goalscorer list to find a Stevenage player. When you do it’s Francois Zoko, whose 10/1 to get the opening goal. Leigh Griffiths is 3/1.

All odds are available from SoccerBase here.

Predictions

49 pundits correctly thought we’d score an impressive win at Bradford last week.

And an amazing 22 of them also got the 2-1 scoreline. Well done to all of them for doubling up.

I suspect everyone will predict a win in this one and I think it’s important we do pick up at least 4 points from this and our game in hand on Tuesday at Carlisle.

Peterborough host Leyton Orient tomorrow so whatever our result, we at least have the consolation of knowing at least one of our rivals will drop points.

I’ll go for an ambitious 4-1 tomorrow.

Up The Wolves