Archives for August 2016

Chesterfield 2 Wolves U23s 1

Visits to Chesterfield have been frequent in the last few years, all in the early tenure of previous Wolves managers.

Mad Mick came to the old Saltergate ground and lost a penalty shoot out in a league cup game, and at the new Proact Stadium in KJ’s first preseason there was a friendly against Paul Cook’s side.

Last night was a step into the unknown as the EFL Checkatrade Trophy provided an untried format for both sides.

However a sparse crowd of some 980 home supporters and 120 hardy Wolves fans were treated to a really good game of football.

The pivotal moment of the game came in the 29th minute when Ethan Ebanks-Landell was dismissed for a two footed tackle.

Both ball and player were missed by the challenge, but the intent was enough to convince the ref. He could have, and should have stayed on his feet and the rush of blood was to make the game very difficult for the young Wolves side thereafter.

By then a good Wolves goal was disallowed for offside, and from a corner kick to the back post, the big home defenders out-jumped Flatt and the ball fell kindly to Sylvan EbanksĀ­-Blake to tap in from two yards.

Funnily enough, before the game I was enjoying hospitality in the Vice President’s Lounge and the Chesterfield Deputy Chairman asked if we were interested in having SEB back for free.

One of the home sides higher earners, the former Wolves man is not their most popular player. He missed a free header and several other chances during the game, so I can possibly understand why.

I’d been looking forward to seeing this young Wolves side play, having read good reports from Stuwolf and others, and I certainly wasn’t disappointed.

The captain was exceptional, frequently drawing applause from the home side as he went past players at will.

For me the whole side played very well, with the left back and left winger also very good. In fact the young lads rarely looked like they were a man short, their work rate, appetite for the game and sheer footballing ability were a joy to behold, I`m sure there are some future stars in that group.

Wolves scored a deserved equaliser, were unfortunate with Chesterfield’s second which took a wicked deflection off a defender and arched over our keeper, and then we sent the keeper the wrong way with a penalty but the ball cannoned back off the post, and a deserved point was lost.

Two matches left in the group, so plenty to play for, the club needs to practice taking penalties, as the last three we’ve missed.

Otherwise a very enjoyable and creditable performance against the odds.

Huddersfield Town 1 Wolves 0

It’s difficult to know if the reverse of this fixture will also be a top of the table clash but today’s contest certainly lived up to its billing.

With the home side irrepressible in the first 45 and anything but in the second, it was the cliched game of two halves.

The main takeaway for Walter Zenga though was another slow start, with the opening and ultimately decisive goal nothing short of shambolic. Despite our clean sheets against Reading and Ipswich, our defensive deficiencies are all too apparent.

Much has been made of Danny Batth’s improvement under Zenga’s tutelage but the skipper was caught out badly in the build up to the goal, with pantomime villain Rajiv Van La Parra also afforded far too much space to tuck home on the rebound.

Huddersfield fans clearly haven’t gotten to know their new number 17 all that well, given the adulation they bestowed upon him throughout proceedings, but nobody can deny the quality of his performance today. What a shame that he only bothers to muster up this level of effort so infrequently.

Coady was arguably our best player again, though his knack for breaking up opposition attacks was largely wasted at right back. On the opposite side, Doherty turned in another typically swashbuckling performance. I can’t recall a more drastically improved player from time supporting the club.

Less impressive were Edwards and Saville, both of whom were deservedly hooked. Their limitations were pretty glaring and the fact all of the substitutes improved us drastically is unlikely to do them many favours.

Both centre backs were also poor and I’d suggest recruitment in that area needs to be considered a priority in the remaining days of the window.

As I type up this report on the coach back to Molineux, a fellow traveler has already hit the nail on the head with a succinct summary that we can’t afford to be a ’45 minute team’ if we want to achieve success this year.

Sluggish starts have been an alarming trend of Zenga’s tenure to date and although almost every other aspect of the Italian’s management has been peachy it’s a habit that needs addressing.

Still, it’s important that we remain level headed given the turbulent nature of the club’s summer activities.

I doubt there’s a Wolves fan among us that expect today’s lineup to be anything like the one that finishes the season and one suspects that patience will be required for a good while yet.

With a host of new signings to bed in and some sorely missed first team players due back from injury, it’ll take time for Zenga to identify his key players and the correct system for them to play in.

Our second half display at least suggests in time we’ll have a very good side on our hands.

Today was a frustrating blemish on an otherwise solid start and it’ll be interesting to see how we pick up again in a fortnight.

Huddersfield Town Vs Wolves Preview

As positive as these early matches have been, we’re yet to face a decent side.

 

Blues and Ipswich are average by Championship standards and I’d say Reading and Rotherham are a few notches lower. The League Cup draws have also been kind.

That’s not to put a dampener on progress under Walter Zenga – we may not have got the results last season – but I’m looking forward to seeing how we get on against the heavyweights.

Huddersfield may fall into that category, but like us it’s too early to know whether they have the staying power and quality to keep it going.

This is a lovely little test for both sides though ahead of the international break.

Huddersfield

HuddersfieldTownCrestDavid Wagner was an inspired choice for Huddersfield after they sacked Chris Powell. An energetic and inventive coach, anything now seems possible for the Terriers, where as before you felt they’d hit a ceiling.

Some promising results towards the back end of last season and a busy summer of recruitment have raised expectations and results haven’t disappointed.

They’re top of the league having already seen off Brentford, Newcastle and Barnsley. A useful point at Villa Park means they’re unbeaten coming into this one.

We know Rajiv van La Parra well of course, but considerably less about the likes of Christopher Schindler, Jon Gorenc-Stankovic or Elias Kachunga.

With our own merry band of exotic new recruits, this game has a continental, anything could happen element of mystique.

Wolves

This section is not about a predicted lineup, as I’m no longer prepared to try and second guess a manager who picks eight midfielders. Instead, this is the team I would field.

Wolves for Huddersfield

That’s the form players from the last few games filling the midfield sandwiched by a well established back four and two strikers bang in form.

But there are more viable options on the bench for Walter Zenga than we’ve had for a long time and who knows how he’ll choose to use all these players?

Rotation has thus far been viewed as a favourable thing, but if results take a turn for the worse the pressure to define a strongest eleven will quickly intensify.

Walter Zenga

Predictions

Nothing exciting to read here I’m afraid – 1-1.

I can’t quite summon the confidence to go all out for the win, but based on everything I’ve seen so far, won’t back us to lose either, even against a good Huddersfield side.

Anything other than defeat would represent a very solid start and leave us ideally placed going into international fortnight and of course, the final days of the transfer window.

Up The Wolves!