Archives for November 2013

Peterborough United Vs Wolves Preview

Prior to Peterborough’s horrific run of five straight league defeats, this fixture was taking on seismic proportions.

Peterborough

But with the Posh now 11 points back in fifth position, it’s removed some of the gloss from what looked like being a top two clash.

But all team’s struggle at some point in the season, so perhaps this is just a particularly bad patch for Darren Ferguson’s side?

Regardless of their current plight, I still expect them to be in and around the top two come the end of the campaign.

Peterborough

Whichever way you spin it, now is a good time to be visiting London Road. Morale is low, the manager seems rattled and Wolves looked to have discovered their best eleven.

Added to that, Britt Assombalonga, their top scorer and arguably best player is ruled out after collecting a fifth booking of the season at Brentford in midweek.

And with only 9 goals scored at home all season, Posh will miss the big striker’s impact. Only Oldham have netted fewer on their own patch.

What you would say is that Wolves’ status as League One leaders and expected promotion contenders will provide all the motivation Peterborough need to raise their game.

Wolves

The team we saw against Tranmere was hugely impressive. You can dismiss the opposition all you want, but I think most people expected them to push us harder and it was to Wolves credit that they turned it into a training exercise.

Wolves XI Peterborough

I don’t think Kenny Jackett can stray too far from the eleven that excelled in midweek. Matt Doherty is probably the most likely name to re-appear, but you feel whichever one of our five defenders misses out these days is unlucky. It’s a nice position to be in.

Of course the manager might have a specific game plan up his sleeve, which involves more wholesale changes to the team. Personally, I think just by fielding our best eleven we should have enough to get a result at present.

The gaffer

The odds

The bookies can’t separate the sides this weekend with both Posh and Wolves 17/10 for the win. The draw is 5/2.

Dave Edwards is a generous 16/1 if you fancy him for first goalscorer. Whatever your opinion on the midfielder, he’s been impressive of late and always has a goal in him.

All odds are available from here.

Predictions

Well done to the 45 pundits who thought we’d win in midweek. 12 also got the 2-0 scoreline to double up.

Really tough to predict this one.

An outsider looking in would surely say Wolves are favourites to get the win, given recent form of both sides and strength of squads.

But Peterborough are due a good result and will undoubtedly raise their game tomorrow. Head says win, but heart knows we’re due a slip-up.

Have to sit on the fence – 2-2.

Up The Wolves

Wolves 2 Tranmere Rovers 0

Somewhere, locked away in the deepest, most optimistic recesses of my mind, I hoped every game in League One would be like this.

Griffiths Tranmere

Wolves tying inferior opposition up in knots, moving the ball around the vast Molineux pitch and clocking up chances by the minute.

Make no mistake about it, if Kenny Jackett’s side have been effective up to this point, last night they were spectacular.

In every way a football team can be better than the opposition, Wolves were that as they completely took the Michael out of Tranmere from minute one to ninety.

Even before Leigh Griffiths’ hopeful punt squirmed under Owain Fon Williams to put his side ahead, Tranmere’s goal had been thoroughly peppered.

As the first half progressed, the only concern was that such total domination wouldn’t result in a second goal, leaving us open to an unlikely, yet not improbable, second half comeback.

Dave Edwards quashed those fears, nodding home a delicious Bakary Sako corner to engage full-on cruise control as Wolves cantered back to the top of the league.

Individually, everyone was superb. Alex Ferguson said in his recent book that in any good team performance, 8 players need to perform well, but you can carry 3. There were no passengers last night.

Well, maybe Carl Ikeme, who was given a deserved break from the spotlight as his defence comfortably dealt with anything the opposition could muster. They only managed one shot on target all night.

As Kenny Jackett demands, both his full-backs pushed forward well to support the attack. Samuel Ricketts in particular bursting a lung. His 80 yard dash just prior to the interval was a sight to behold, even if the finish was lacking.

In midfield the McDonald Edwards partnership was again imperious, ensuring a steady supply to our front four, whilst quickly neutralising any possible threat.

And with a wealth of possession, Sako and Jacobs really filled their boots. The only disappointment was that neither were able to find the decisive finish that their neat approach work merited.

Jacobs is the type of player we so rarely see in a gold shirt; quick, lithe and technically blessed. He was Man of the Match by a distance last night and that’s without a telling final ball.

Doyle carried on where he left off on in the first half Saturday, dropping into the pockets and linking the play together. It’s wonderful to see him enjoying his football again and rediscovering some of that swagger. If only he could shoot.

One player that can strike the ball is Leigh Griffiths and for the second game running, the Scot could have snagged a 45-minute hat-trick. But his overall play was superb and it was a luxury to rest him up ahead of the weekend.

Jake Cassidy won’t want to relive his horror miss, stroking the ball wide from 6 yards with the goal wide open. He worked hard thereafter and did some good things, but as Kenny Jackett suggests ‘he needs a goal’.

Peterborough on Saturday would be a nice place to get one Jake. We head there in arguably the best shape we’ve been in all season.

And with their recent dip in form, that optimistic voice in the back of mind is getting louder.

Wolves Vs Tranmere Rovers Preview

Shuffling into my seat about 5 minutes before kick-off on Saturday, I was anxious to see how England had got on in the rugby.

Ryan Lowe Tranmere

And as deflating as it was to learn they’d surrendered the game in the time it took me to walk from the pub to the ground, another scoreline stole my attention.

Coventry 0 Tranmere 3. And it wasn’t even half-time.

As I shared the news around, everyone had the same reaction: pleased, initially, in the sense that Coventry are a dangerous side that could conceivably crash the top six, but then uneasy at the prospect of entertaining an in-form Tranmere side on Tuesday.

Tranmere

A few weeks ago this would have seemed like a gimme with Rovers plummeting like a stone towards the foot of the table.

But a 5 match unbeaten run, including that impressive demolition of Coventry along with a good win over MK Dons and a draw with Preston, changes the complexion of the challenge.

It’s also worth remembering that Ronnie Moore had his side at the top of League One this time last year, cantering away at the outset, only to be dragged back as the season went on.

Ryan Lowe is the man charged with replacing Jake Cassidy’s goal input for Rovers and he scored a hat-trick at the weekend. He, along with returning star midfielder James Wallace, are two to watch out for.

Wolves

I liked the team Kenny Jackett put out on Saturday and hope to see the same eleven tonight. Will he have one eye on the Peterborough game though? That might lead to some changes.

Wolves XI

That probably constitutes our best team, with the exception of James Henry and perhaps Scott Golbourne depending on your preferences.

It’s hard to predict what KJ will do with his team. Probably harder than it’s ever been with any manager we’ve had in fact. He seems to have a clear game plan in mind for every opponent, which is refreshing and frustrating in equal measures.

The likes of Golbourne, Sigurdarson and Cassidy might get a start and I also thought Zeli Ismail showed some real intent in his short cameo at the weekend. Never disappointed to see him in the team.

The odds

You can get 7/1 on any Tranmere win in this match, which seems remarkable value given their recent upturn. Even I’m tempted to put a fiver on that.

Wolves are a far less generous 1/2 and the draw is 3/1. All odds are available to view here.

Predictions

16 people correctly predicted the draw against Brentford. Only one pundit got the 0-0 scoreline correct though.

Hats off to Chris in Dublin for doublin’ his tally (and people say I have no sense of humour). He really had the crystal ball out when forecasting an entertaining 0-0.

I said 4 points would be a good return from these two home matches and I stand by that. Despite Tranmere’s recent revival, I expect us to win this.

3-1

Up The Wolves.

Wolves 0 Brentford 0

Some matches have goalless draw scribbled all over them from the outset.

Griffiths Brentford

Then there are games like this, entertaining contests, that ebb and flow throughout yet somehow fail to blot the scoresheet.

It’s a shame because a match of this caliber really didn’t deserve the negative connotations that a stalemate suggests.

Leigh Griffiths alone could have pocketed a hat-trick and came closer than anyone with a fierce low drive that smacked the post.

The visitors were soon down the other end though, squandering the clearest opening of the day – Adam Forshaw volleying over at the back post when it looked easier to score.

That short passage of play was typical of the game, with both sides scrapping and probing to gain a decisive upper hand. It was compulsive viewing.

Brentford impressed me, as I suspected they would, tidy on the ball and possessing the requisite attacking menace to keep our imperious defence wary.

But I felt Wolves had the greater individual talent, Kevin Doyle in particular showcasing touches of class that were light years ahead of anything else on show. It was his majestic control and pass that opened the door for Griffiths’ best effort.

Both forwards were fantastic in the first half, but struggled to influence the game in a more fragmented second period.

And if there’s one criticism of this current Wolves team, it’s their collective performance in the latter stages of games.

We’ve seen Swindon, Crawley and Coventry all pouring forward late on and if one team was going to win it in the final knockings yesterday, you felt it would be Brentford.

It’s thanks to Carl Ikeme that they didn’t, with our goalkeeper making the type of smart, instinctive saves we’ve come to expect. In future we might not be so fortunate.

But the hard fought point is a valuable one, particularly with third place Peterborough again coming unstuck.

In-form Tranmere on Tuesday promises to be the same as this one – anything but dull.

Highlights

Reaction

Wolves Vs Brentford Preview

One of the first football matches (if not the very first) I ever went to was Wolves against Brentford.

Brentford Clayton Donaldson

The year was 1992 and the visitors secured a 2-1 victory at Molineux, which was actually the last time these two teams played.

Resuming a rivalry some 20 years down the road, this fixture assumes a degree of importance with both clubs aiming for promotion.

Brentford are 9 points back in fourth position. A win for them opens up the competition around the automatic places. A positive result for Wolves would lay down a hefty marker. It’s nicely poised.

Brentford

Has there ever been a more gut-wrenching conclusion to a season than the Bees suffered last time out?

Needing a win against Doncaster to secure promotion, they missed a last minute penalty and then saw Donny break away to score the game’s decisive goal.

Then, after regrouping to reach the play-off final, they were ousted by Yeovil at Wembley for yet more disappointment.

I think any football fan can relate to how awful that must have felt. For that reason, I hope they manage to get up this year, just as long as it’s not at our expense.

They arrive at Molineux on the back of a 5 match winning streak, which has reinvigorated a campaign that looked to have stalled.

Having come so close last season, it’s obvious they have some quality. I’m reliably informed they’re a passing side that like to move the ball around. Wolves have struggled against sides of this nature, particularly at home, so it’s a big challenge.

We were linked with big Clayton Donaldson in the summer and I was keen to see him signed. I’m looking forward to getting a closer look at him to see what he’s all about.

Wolves

I know the sort of team I’d like to see tomorrow, which is something like this:

Wolves team Brentford

It’s a real blow to lose James Henry, who was once again excellent at Notts County last week. Michael Jacobs seems the most likely bet to replace him and it will be good to see what he’s all about.

If the likes of Doherty, Doyle and Ricketts are good to go, it’s a no-brainer to put them back in from the start. They give us a touch of quality and experience that we desperately lack in their absence.

I’ve never been a massive Dave Edwards fan, but I felt in the second half at Notts County last week, he and McDonald took control of the midfield, which was a major factor in our eventual success.

That’s what I’d do, but Kenny Jackett has shown already he’s not afraid to do what he thinks best, even if that means leaving our top scorer on the bench or completely changing the shape of the side.

If we keep winning, he can do what he likes in my book. However, I don’t think a five man midfield with Cassidy alone up front is a sustainable model for success.

The odds

Home advantage gives Wolves the upper hand in the eyes of the bookies. They’re at 5/4. Brentford are available at 12/5 and the draw is 5/2.

Leigh Griffiths is favourite to bag the opening goal at 4/1, with Clayton Donaldson available at 11/2.

All odds are available from SoccerBase here.

Predictions

No surprise that with Wolves winning last weekend, there was an avalanche of points in the PL.

70 people correctly predicted victory, but only 8 also got the 1-0 scoreline for a maximum 2 point return. It’s a single for everyone else.

Just a quick note on late predictions. A few people didn’t register their forecasts until after kick-off last week, which is fine in isolation but I can’t involve people if it becomes persistent as it’s an unfair advantage for obvious reasons.

I’m concerned we’ll get turned over this weekend. Playing an in-form team, a few niggling injuries and KJ in a spell of tinkering all points to disaster to me.

If we can get 4 points from these two games (tomorrow and Tranmere on Tuesday night), I’ll be more than satisfied with that return. I have a nagging suspicion we’ll fall short though.

Please, please prove me wrong Wolves.

2-1 Brentford.

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.