Unfortunately I couldn’t be there, but I was able to watch the match on television. I don’t have SS at the moment – but a friend offered his home so I could watch it.
I think I was more nervous about this game, than any game recently since the last game of the season last year against Blackburn. At 19.25 I put my Blues top on and nipped round to my mate’s place. He was just as nervous, mind you he had good reason as he is a Wolves fan!!
When I saw the team line up, I felt far more confident about getting a result, (I was expecting us to lose). Blake was out and we had Jerome and Phillips up front. Earlier in the season Jerome’s pace gave Wolves loads of problems and Phillips ALWAYS scores against them! My mate wasn’t pleased. He said to me he wasn’t convinced that Harewood was a good choice and without Blake and Kightly he couldn’t see where goals were coming from – he felt it would be a draw.
As the match started, one observation, was the number of empty seats. A shame really considering the magnitude of the game – but I guess a lot of people are struggling financially and the fact that it was on tv 25,000 wasn’t too bad.
I thought the first 15 – 20 minutes was all huff and puff to be honest. A lot of ping pong ball, with neither side dominating or creating much. About 20 minutes in we had our first real chance when Jerome picked up a bad back pass but he was unable to really get the ball under control.
On 35 minutes the match turned on a challenge from Carsley on Chris Iwelumo. It was definitely a bad challenge, but initially I was suprised to see the red card come out – that was until I saw the replay. There was NO DOUBT that the red was the right decision. I was gutted, because I felt that by that action, we had handed the game to Wolves. How wrong I was!! The REAL changing point though, was the fact that Iwelumo had to go off leaving Harewood on his own. (Oh is he playing? I’d forgotten about him!)
My mate was obviously very upset, and in truth if it had been the other way round I would have been too. Apparently though, Carsley has apologised and Mick McCarthy has said that he knows it wasn’t a deliberate challenge. Mr Wenger please take note.
After the sending off, I thought this will be a test for McLeish who has been criticised by some about his tactics. I was really pleased to see him not changing things immediately with us playing a sort of 4-3-1-1. I expected an onslaught from Wolves, but it never came and in injury time we had a free kick which seemed to bounce 10 times, then was bundled in by Jerome. 1-0 Blues. My mate was a bit upset that Jerome appeared to be holding Hennessey as he put it in. I reminded him only a few minutes before, it was ok that Ridgewell was being held in the box at a corner. He mumbled something about I suppose so.
I thought that McLeish would now shut up shop, and expected Wolves to come an attack us – however we didn’t really and I was delighted to see that he bought on McFadds for Phillips. Phillips hadn’t done anything wrong, but there is no doubt that McFadds gives us options at the front, in the middle and he can defend. It proved to be an awesome move. McFadds was fantastic – man of the second half. He was EVERYWHERE. We played like we were away, defended really well and attacked on the counter.
In fact we were the better side at the start of the second half with several chances. Then once again McLeish listened to me and bought on O Connor for Jerome. His introduction was also inspired when he beat a very static Wolves defence to the ball and put us 2-0 up. Game won!
Wolves did produce a good save off Taylor in the second half, but that was just about it. In the second half you would have thought we were the team with 11 and they had 10. They looked spent, jaded, without any ideas – in fact they didn’t look like a team leading a division.
We weren’t brilliant as a footballing side, but it was all about the result and to be fair we did that pretty easily in the end. From Taylor through to the front players, we gave 101% and won most of the 50/50 balls and most of the second balls. We deserved that win. Wolves have a much smaller squad and are beginning to feel the pressure of losing players.
I hope we both go up, because I want to see more midland sides in the top flight. Wolves have to get a good result against the Saints, otherwise they will begin to really crumble.
What of us? Well we now HAVE to forget monday and HAVE to beat Argyle and Charlton, especially after Sheff Utd won last night. Will we win the league? Not sure, will we go up – well I’m STILL not sure – however we ARE getting closer!
COME ON BLUES!!!!!