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A creditable win against one of the teams that everyone expects to be a contender for promotion, but maybe not a deserved win.
From where I was both of our goals came against the run of the game but once we had the second then we killed the game off. Wolves seemed more cohesive as a unit and much easier on the ball, there was a lot of first time pass and movement across the midfield and right up to edge of our box. This left some of our boys chasing shadows. The fact that they rarely broke through into shooting positions speaks volumes for the back four and the covering midfielders' ability to make last ditch covering tackles - there was always someone there. The pace of Kenny Miller caused particular problems in the first half skinning Gregan and Butler each a couple of times but each time there was a covering player. Wolves might have had more success if Miller had had some support - or indeed if he had bothered to use it when it was there.
The first bright spot of the day was seeing that Wright was replaced by Richardson - this was tempered somewhat on seeing that Blake was in for Healy. Richardson made two contributions that stood him apart from Wright - the first leading to the first goal when he was backing up Blake's challenge for the aerial ball just outside their box, it fell to him and he knocked it between defenders into the box using his speed to get to the by-line and then dragging it back for Lewis steaming in to thump it into the roof of the net from 12 yards. Then towards the end of the first half Wolves attacked down their right, got to the by-line and swung a cross out and back towards the far edge of the penalty area - over all of our defence - where Richardson had tracked back with his man and made enough of a challenge to prevent the guy from getting a clear shot on goal. Richardson may not be a world beater but he is a team player and is prepared to work.
After the first goal, the rest of the pressing in the half came from the visitors. This resulted mainly in long shots, or scuffed shots except in one instance where Miller was alone at the back post and thumped a shot against the bar with Bennett beaten. We made occasional break away forays into their half without ever really looking convincing. Blake huffed and puffed like a Bobby Davidson of old but never really got anywhere - Hulse made a welcome return and at least added a bit of muscle up there and kept their CHalfs occupied. Lewis looked OK in flashes but he was far too often peripheral to the action. If one of Blackwell's big theories about playing Gregan/Butler at CHalf is that there will be more ball playing out from the back then they're going to have to do more than simply belt it long into the channels regardless of whether there is a player there or not. Bloke behind me asked if he'd been asleep for 15 years and was Wilko still the manager.
I know that the stats show that the Butler/Gregan are doing well in terms of goals kept out - all I can wonder is how? Gregan in particular is slow - he was turned a couple of time by Miller - but worst of all for CHalf he can't head - he doesn't even get off the ground. His tactic seems to be to shove the attacker and/or go charging in with his elbow at the bloke's head. Butler at least looks competant alongside Gregan. Butler got in a good number of proper challenges both on the floor and in the air yesterday.
The second half started with Wolves again playing the football without ever really getting past the edge of the box. Then Kelly broke down the right and was cynically dragged down by their fullback just in the Wolves half. He hit the resulting free kick long across field towards the far edge of the box where Gylfi outjumped everyone - as he did whenever he went for it, he is definitely spring-heeled - and nodded a looping ball up into the box which fell to Hulse on the penalty spot, defender tight, back to goal, he controlled and turned and shot a low dragged left foot shot back across goal wrong footing the keeper. Hulse did well but I would have expected the defender to get a block on it. The keeper was unsighted by the defender, I'd guess. After this although Wolves kept trying they did seem to have lost belief - it was "just one of those days" as far as they were concerned. Just before the 2nd goal we'd swapped Blake for Douglas to make a five man midfield. This snuffed out any remaining threat from Wolves by strangling the midfield area.
The only remaining fun was watching the ref taking a moaning Hoddle to one side and giving him a good ticking off for some very un-Christian language (I assume).
BENNETT - impressive home debut. Looked assured, mobile, took control of the box well and made a couple of decent saves.
KELLY - really in a good streak of form. Looks comfortable in this company, rarely beaten and drives forward well - his distribution is still iffy...but wasn't it always? Seems to be filling the role of the older pro very well.
HARDING - dodgy opening but got more assured as the game went on - a few tackles were well timed and a few bits of his forward play came off. I wonder if he's not a little over-awed by it all. Can still be light-weight in the tackle. Give him time.
BUTLER - the better of the two CHalfs today. Solid tackling and good presence in the air. I retain my doubts about the pairing but there is no denying that Butler played better than he has done for months yesterday.
GREGAN - the more worrying of the two - but again as a pair the scoresheets show that they have not yet been found wanting in a way that matters. I watched him closely yesterday and remain worried that his "physical style" will result in penalties. Let's hope I'm wrong.
RICHARDSON - was steady rather than spectacular but nevertheless was better than Wright. Covered back to help Kelly and got forward to decent effect. Doesn't always see the pass early enough and gets caught in possession.
EINARSSON - I thought was rubbish first half and much better second. Contributed nothing to the midfield in the opening 45, consistently by-passed by the play and only made a few rash lunges - while he lost the ball most times he had it at feet. In the second half his challenging improved and his aerial threat caused several problems for Wolves - is this guy really the best in the club when it comes to heading?
DERRY - as before - very consistent. Quietly ticks away winning the ball and then trying to make a good pass. Excellent at this level.
LEWIS - flits in and out of the game - don't all left wingers - but when he's in it he's worth his place - took his goal well, takes on men around the box and hits a decent cross. Not sure about his tracking back, covering, or his positional play when defending. Wish the crowd would pack in the "USA" chanting.
HULSE - makes a huge difference to us. Like the effort, the way he makes life difficult for defences and he is a good finisher. We look a better team when he plays.
BLAKE - overweight? Not a patch on Healy. With him, Gregan, Butler and Wright I reckon we're keeping some parachute factory in business.
RICKETTS - gave it a go and made himself a nuisance - with a bit more composure should have been through on goal - no need for him to get booed coming on, he doesn't make the decisions
HEALY - not on long
DOUGLAS - on for half an hour and I never noticed him once...
Crowd - one of our biggest rivals, playing well, beautiful sunny day in August - what's your excuse today Mr Bates? Oldham could see records broken...
Copy from Football Unlimited of 22/08/2005.
After months in which Wolverhampton Wanderers could do no wrong and years in which Leeds United could do no right, this sudden reversal came as a shock to Glenn Hoddle. "We're 2-0 down," he said, accurately enough, "and I'm scratching my head to understand why." Call it karma, Glenn.
Eileen Drewery might have expected it but the rest can admit to some surprise. Wolves' long unbeaten run, going back 21 league games to January 4, has been broken - by a club that came this close to sleeping with the goldfishes.
Though Leeds were outshot, outpassed and pushed back, they took an early lead, then put an extra man in midfield, and scrapped and chased and threw their bodies in the way. Proof that the Fates had tired of slapping them around came in the 60th minute, when Kevin Blackwell removed one striker in the interests of holding on to a 1-0 lead only to see his remaining striker immediately make it 2-0. Only in football can you take the pot after folding your hand.
Copy from Football Unlimited of 21/08/2005.
It was enough to test the patience of a saint. When referee Richard Beeby took Glenn Hoddle to one side for a behavioural lecture sympathies were with the Wolves manager. His side's record-breaking run of 21 League games without defeat had been cruelly ended by a hit-and-run Leeds side who were second best in almost every department.
From the first kick Wolves had harried and hustled the Yorkshiremen and peppered shots on Ian Bennett's goal. But it was Leeds who took advantage of two defensive errors to capitalise and grab the points.
Yes, Leeds battled well. Their defence, marshalled by former Wolves player Paul Butler, had a resolute look. Sean Gregan worked tirelessly alongside Butler, but it seemed just a matter of time before Wolves would take the lead.