Trudging away from the Reebok at 5 o’clock yesterday, I’d already come to terms with this painful defeat, which could well cost us dearly come the end of the season.
In fact, about twenty minutes into the second half, I’d realised it wasn’t going to be Wolves’ day. Having hit the inside of the post twice, only to see the ball bounce along the goalmouth and out to safety on both ocassions, it was clear that luck certainly wasn’t on our side.
Matt Jarvis should have equalised after motoring away down the left, cutting inside superbly, but then delaying his shot a second too long with the goal at his mercy. He was actually fouled inside the penalty area prior to getting his effort away, but I wasn’t surprised to see the referee turn away the muted appeals.
The tricky wide man also stung Jussi Jääskeläinen’s hands in the first half, latching onto a flick through and firing in a vicious first time shot, that the Bolton keeper did well to turn around the post.
Just not our day. Luckless in many respects.
But luck had nothing to do with our poor defending.
We generally did well from set pieces, doubling up on Kevin Davies and staying tight on the likes of Knight and Elmander. But in the crucial moments prior to half-time we switched off and got punished.
Guedioura didn’t do enough to stop Lee dancing passed him on the byline, Kevin Foley allowed the Korean to come in too far and when the ball was played across, whoever should have been marking Knight wants shooting.
You have to say it had been coming though.
Craddock and particularly Berra didn’t do well enough to repel the threat of Bolton’s front two, all too often flicking balls on to help their cause rather than heading them away to safety. That allowed them to construct a handful of excellent opportunities, which needed smart saves from Hahnemann and a goal line clearance to keep the scores level.
Berra was poor. There’s no hiding from that fact and he needs to improve if he’s to keep his place in the side. He positions himself well most of the time and is excellent when the crosses are raining in, but he’s just not being strong enough, quick enough or good enough on the ball to cope with the demands of the Premiership. I’ve been his biggest fan at different points of the season, but recently he’s disappointed.
I felt disappointed with Ward, Guedioura and Henry too. There was too much dilly-dallying on the ball from those three, which constantly saw possession surrendered easily.
David Jones seemed the only midfielder capable of getting the ball out of his feet and picking out a proper pass. He was man of the match for me with an excellent all round performance; coming within a hairsbreadth of capping it with that superb free-kick that walloped against the post.
There were other decent showings from the likes of Jarvis, Foley and the evergreen Kevin Doyle, but we just never did quite enough in the crucial moments of the game to come away with a result, which is hugely disappointing.
There wasn’t enough desire to go out and get that goal to put us in the driving seat. It was only when we went behind that we showed a bit of spark, which is just so typical of many of our away performances this season. Then of course, there’s that lack of cutting edge, which is proving crucial when the half-chances do come our way, as there’s nobody out there to strike the killer blow.
That looks like it could cost us.
We’ll need to show more in our other relegation showdowns against Burnley and Portsmouth or we’ll almost certainly be hearing the unmistakable hiss of fizzy pop.
In the meantime, we’ve got Man Utd to look forward to next week.