Archives for August 2013

Port Vale 1 Wolves 3

Celebrating an impressive away win at Port Vale with a McDonald’s meal on the M6 was the most fitting conclusion to an away day to savour.

Kevin McDonald Port Vale

After our Scottish number 11 Kevin put in a virtuoso display to feast over, a bite to eat at the namesake restaurant was the least I could do to show my appreciation.

Make no mistake though, we’re not settling for a beefburger here but a prime steak, who was tastier than any other player on the Vale Park pitch – or any other Wolves player on a full league debut for that matter.

Thanks in no small part to the meaty man from Carnoustie, we eventually ran out worthy winners against a largely impressive Port Vale side, who will point to one or two missed chances, the width of the woodwork and an inspired Carl Ikeme with the score at 1-0.

For the first half there was nothing to choose between the teams, even if Wolves looked marginally more threatening on the break.

What appeared to be a stubborn insistence to make the wrong decision at all costs was the overriding reason for the stalemate.

That Wolves managed to shake off the affliction in the second half as the home side continued the trend explains the eventual scoreline.

A moment of genuine quality was required to separate the teams and when it came it was worth waiting for, as Leigh Griffiths worked an opening before lashing the ball high into the net past the keeper’s near post.

Our new number nine then etched his name into the cult hero ranks with a mock imitation of Lee Hughes’ god awful goal celebration, in front of 4,000 joyous away fans.

As the game became stretched we then unleashed another discernible touch of class, in the shape of Sigurdarson.

Siggy ran 70 yards to get on the end of a low Griffiths cross to hammer home the second and when the Icelandic marksman returned the same compliment to ‘that man’ McDonald to make it three, the game was well and truly over.

Port Vale away

Sitting in the Railway Stand with a staunch Vale supporting friend of mine offered an insightful perspective from a different vantage point, while my five year-old’s celebration to Griffiths’ opener gave me brief palpitations, amongst some less enamoured home fans!

The one cause for concern on today’s showing the performance of Kevin Doyle, who was guiltier than any player of either making awful decisions in promising positions, or just making a mess of things altogether.

Compared to the triumvirate of Griffiths, McDonald and Siggy, he was something of an imposter who will not be catching any scouts’ eyes amid such company.

Scott Golbourne was also largely anonymous in a left midfield position before going off injured and if he is a replacement for Bakary Sako, then I’d also be raising an eyebrow.

But the positives far outweighed any marginal gripes in a memorable trip to the Potteries, featuring one bargain Big Mac to tickle the taste buds…

…Followed by another one at Stafford Services on the way home!

Highlights

Player ratings

Ikeme: One wonder save at 1-0. Commanded his box brilliantly all game, to the increasing annoyance of the home fans. 8

Doherty: Didn’t see him as an attacking outlet for the second game running. Made timely interceptions though. Solid. 6

Ricketts: Not his finest game featuring terrible distribution in the first half. Got forward well in the second half however. 6

Batth: Handled Hughes and Pope brilliantly and was a rock throughout. Did the dirty stuff better than anyone. 8

Stearman: Another who didn’t shirk the physical challenge, infuriating the home fans with his grapple-fest with Hughes in the process. A vital cog in today’s wheel. 7

Ismail: A genuine outlet who offers a genuine goal threat. Whistled one over in the first half and suffered from others’ poor decision making when ideally placed. Switched sides regularly. 6

Davis: Very good game and extremely easy on the eye. Another robust performer who broke up play and started counter attacks with minimal fuss. Well played! 7

McDonald: Sumptuous. A class act boasting mobility, skill, speed of thought and an ability to be in all the right places at the right times. Man-of-the-match. 9

Doyle: Poor. Off the pace and was the biggest culprit for surrendering possession or making the wrong decisions in promising areas, almost exclusively. Still showed for the ball and offered usual work ethic. 6

Griffiths: Cult hero! Busy, tidy on the ball and an insatiable appetite to hit the back of the net. Will be disappointed not to score after his first, too. Goal celebration worth the admission fee. 8

Golbourne: Not sure what to make of his performance, which lasted about 40mins. No bigger than Zeli and less of an outlet going forward. I see him more as a rival to Ricketts than Sako. I hope Kenny sees it the same and finds a genuine left midfielder if Sako departs. 5

Subs:

Evans (for Golbourne): Steady. Good in possession and had a hand in the opener. 6

Sigurdarson (for Ismail): Brilliant! Scored one, set one up. The perfect environment for Siggy, versus tiring legs, defending a high line. 8

Forde (for Doyle): Typically anonymous, although not on long enough to affect his anonymity 5

Port Vale Vs Wolves Preview

It’s been over 13 years since this fixture was last played.

Lee Hughes

On that particular occasion, Carl Robinson scored a late winner at Vale Park to secure victory on the final day of the 1999/2000 season.

Wolves were still in with a shout of the play-offs, but despite victory lost out on sixth place to Bolton. Port Vale were already relegated.

Since then, the Valiants have sunk down to League Two, stood on the precipice of liquidation, survived and gradually clawed their way back.

I’m looking forward to this game as it’s a fixture I grew up watching all through the 90s.

They had some useful players back then and the likes of Foyle, Guppy, Naylor and McCarthy were all names who heaped misery on us at one time or another.

Port Vale

The current Vale team contains a few familiar faces.

Lee Hughes can expect his usual reception from the 4,500 Wolves supporters heading up the M6, but even at 37 years of age, the former Albion striker remains a potent goal threat. He’d love to score in this one.

The less controversial figure Daniel Jones will also be lining up against his former club on Saturday. He watched the Crawley game last week and feels confident they’ll be able to get at our defence from wide areas. Hopefully not Danny.

After escaping League Two last season with their third place finish, they’ve had a solid enough start this time, with 4 points from 4 matches.

Their home record thus far is strong with a win over highly fancied Bradford and a draw against Brentford, another promotion hopeful.

Mickey Adams has got them playing fast, attacking football so this promises to be an exciting and open game in front of Vale Park’s biggest crowd for years.

Wolves

Things are just starting to bubble up on the transfer front. Barnsley left-back Scott Goldbourne appears to have been lured down a division presumably by a larger pay packet, whilst the first official bid for Bakary Sako has been rebuffed. Something tells me that won’t be the end of it though.

With no confirmed ins or outs as I write this, I think we’ll see two changes from last Friday’s win over Crawley:

Wolves team for Port Vale

Kenny will be keen to get Kevin McDonald into the team I would have thought and last week’s impressive cameo against Crawley gives him an opportunity to do just that. Whether it’s Davis or Evans that makes way, I’m not sure.

I’d be surprised if Griffiths didn’t regain his place at the expense of Siggy, but it’s nice to have the option either way. I’d fancy either of them to score.

The odds

Wolves are favourites to win this one at 11/10, with Port Vale at a more generous 11/4. The draw is 13/5. Live bets can be made using the bwin sports app, and while you wait you could try out the bwin poker app too.

If you fancy a flutter on Kevin McDonald to bag his first Wolves goal, enticing odds of 14/1 are available.

Or for the doomsday scenario, Lee Hughes is 7/1 to open the scoring.

All odds are here.

Predictions

Well done to AmberWolf, Gold Wolf Sven, Sleachy, SOIAW and Number 9, who all got the score spot on against Crawley for a two point maximum.

93 others predicted a win for a single point return with most of us getting a bit carried away with the scoreline.

Everything about this fixture screams banana skin to me. But I can’t possibly predict a defeat, so I’ll take a score draw.

2-2.

Up The Wolves.

Deadline day scenario

So picture the scene…

sky sports news ticket

…It’s 11.55pm and the tantalising Natalie Sawyer is closing over the transfer window, ever so slowly, with those wonderfully elusive eyes of hers.

Her heaving bosom, packed in a yellow ensemble, is all that sits between the gap in the curtains but those eyes are still refusing to seduce you like you only wish they could.

But wait, a voice in her earpiece punctuates an intriguing Bale tweet about chorizo and Natalie is forced to look us right in the eye and mutter the words she barely has the inclination to impart:

‘There’s a breaking news development at Molineux.’

She grudgingly averts her gaze from the millions of Premier League lovers to mumble that Bakary Sako has completed a move to Notts Forest.

How would you feel?

Ask me only a week ago and I’d be thoroughly outraged.

A carbon copy of our 2012 madness, when our most potent outlets were released on deadline with no time to replace and a new manager subsequently marooned.

But after watching Friday night’s slender win over a mightily impressive Crawley Town, I’m wondering if there might be method to the madness of selling our proven match winner?

In a sobering reminder of all those games we’ve surrendered in recent years, our midfield was overrun, with one simple slide-rule ball by-passing our entire midfield on too many occasions.

If Kenny Jackett favours the 4-4-2 system like it appears he does, then surely a narrower proposition is the best way forward, to offset the distinct possibility of more performances like Crawley.

With Zele Ismail showing huge promise and Kevin McDonald looking so impressive in his brief cameo, could Sako’s replacement already be out on the training field awaiting his debut?

We could feasibly play Evans, Davis, Zeli and McDonald together, in a narrower, fluid take on the system we currently operate.

And after watching the under-21s at Molineux yesterday, we might just have the best young talent chomping at the bit for an introduction into the first team, as well.

The performance of Jack Price was a massively uplifting sight against a tough Stoke City outfit, reminding me of Mark Davies in his industry, endeavour and ability to shine in a congested environment. He oozed quality.

We’ve got a real player on our hands on that showing and while losing Sako – and the natural width he provides – would be a blow, the sight of Price in full flow will be arriving sooner rather than later.

Maybe we should be seeing both and maybe we should be buying instead of selling anyway?

But if Natalie Sawyer decides to impart those words that you could do without hearing, would she really be breaking your heart?