|Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 v 2 Ipswich Town|
Saturday, 29th December 2012 Kick-off 15:00
|ChrisBeeston added 18:39 - Dec 29|
Mullet added 19:42 - Dec 29
It was hard not to look closely at both sides from the distance afforded to us in our lofty perch and look for signs of McCarthyism in the old and new. He was the architect of success both past and present in the respective sides after all.
Wolves fans left the game decrying the “worst they'd known” but they didn't look all that bad to me at first. With recent Prem experience and arguable Prem quality they looked well drilled and solid as Town's first attack was a lofted ball from N'Daw over the top, too deep to set anyone free. They responded in kind and a lofted through ball set Doyle away in the box before he opted to dive dramatically and blatantly in front of Chambers. The ref signalled no contact and produced no card.
When the home side repeated the trick shortly after the Irishman was this time flagged offside. The blistering brogue aimed at the upheld flag bearer on the flank was evidently fierce from beneath the strikers beak. Alas he had not a chance to test his shooting boots or triple pike until much later.
Town would get the marginal advantage in terms of territory, possession and certainly threat as the now signature blend of defensive covering, simple passing game and counters on the flank began to tell. N'Daw was dominant in the middle and the gateway to both goals as he cut out pass after pass and made them like a passive aggressive metronome.
It was to be the Senegalese stopper who would make the opening goal. A beutifullly bent ball along turf arced past the full back into DJ's feet. The neck tattoo rippled as he dropped the ball onto the foot of the onrushing Cresswell who opened his body and with his weak foot delivered a finish from all of ten yards after a strong run, past Ikeme. Jubilation! After so many growing pains it was the reward for an upswing of mature performances from the youngster.
Earlier similar tip-tap-toe poke football had seen the busy Martin bend a shot agonisingly wide past an unsighted keeper and upright post from the edge of the box. His rambling direct style has seen the aerodynamic winger drop plenty of bombs towards opposition goals this late but not always be as damaging as we could hope for. It was more of the same today.
Carlos decided to ignore his internal sat nav again as he drifted centrally to play his part in keep ball but it left Orr exposed again to the threat of Ebanks-Blake and Sako. The former was never much of a threat today despite his running, the latter pinged freekicks into the wall on two occasions. The first of such problems came when Tommy dallied and controlled a loose ball with his thigh, spilling into the middle causing Chambers to dive in and bring his man down. It was heartening to see teamwork and commitment in the face of mistakes.
Town themselves spent the rest of the half pushing on and typically it was Murphy's muscular prowess which kept a suspect looking pair of CB's busy. Where N'Daw and Cresswell excelled in dropping stuff over the top to stretch the defence the right hand side were too often forced to cut back in and cut back on running at backline.
Town were unlucky not to be further ahead as the break came in my opinion as chances weren't always forthcoming but the perseverence of the whole side kept a flat looking came alive in the face of wet and windy conditions. Wolves' best chances came from set pieces but a masterfully eager Henderson gave the back line much more confidence only when a corner sprung up on Tommy's feet, the Kiwi instinctively swept a left peg at it. The wasteful attackers blasted high and wide instead. Town meanwhile clattered shots and one twos off and around their counterparts and often the rub of the green was not quite soft enough to carve open a gilt-edged chance in the first period.
Due to the incompetence of the kiosk staff I had to watch N'Daw start the second half with a fierce shot towards the top corner on a screen above the stand. Senior assures me it was even better than the TV made it look as Ikeme bent body and fingertips to push it the wrong side of the frame. Much like the first half the game descended in and out of flurries of action and inertia.
The Tractor boys made their confidence count with a swaggering display in the middle as a fine effort collectively saw a long range hoof from Wolves reveresed. Chambers cut it out inside our half and the header dropped into the path of DJ. The speedy purveyor of scoring needed no invitation. Living up to his name he sped clear and slotted the ball expertly into the bottom corner. Huzzah! We all lifted ourselves to celebrate enthusiastically amongst the din of the above average allocation I grinned “it's good to be an Ipswich fan again innit?” to much agreement from Snr and strangers alike surprisingly.
We were not home free yet as Doyle was taken off to much booing and howling from the Wolves' fans. His only real contribution was another speculative dive when he could have kept running. Perhaps looking for signs of Mick as the creative force in their side was misguided when they've clearly gone so Stale. With five across the middle the home side enjoyed greater possession but looked toothless and rarely in the hunt.
It was pleasing to see Cressy win headers alongside his bigger team mates as Town looked to take the ball to the floor and play in their attackers where a lob would suffice, long balls were often still good balls to relieve any pressure felt. N'Daw and Murphy linked well to play in the more mobile colleagues moving in and out of the channels thanks to a lack of tunnel vision all round. Both men tussled for the MOTM award as they did with opposition players, the Celtic warrior was my victor today.
Town meanwhile continued industriously and engineered neat moves and comfortable defensive dominance consistently. Familiar line ups and familiar substitutions were welcome relief today. Before departing DJ was unlucky not to add to his tally. A sublime jink from the right byline by Carlos saw his quarry back off and to the outside of him lady luck gave him an R in the shape of DJ. It was the little man who tamely looped his shot when it should have been a metaphorical noose around Solbakken's neck.
On came Chopra and with the switch of Drury for NRC the fresh legs and level heads proved invaluable. As Town saw more of the ball on the back foot simple passing let former Enland U21 captain Nigel, break not once, not twice but thrice. Setting away Martin once and Chopra twice the two attackers failed to produce the goods shooting wide in spectacular style each time.
The game ended in drab but enjoyable way with the ref finally putting the hosts out of the misery to already emptying stadium and much delight from Town fans. The hunger, workrate and desire of players with a plan and a way to use it effectively has been enjoyable to watch. As the floodlights bathed the sheen on the pitch, the familiar strains of “only one Mick McCarthy” rang out around Molineux but these days only we get to sing it.
At the end a jubilant Carlos mimed driving over to fans and clowned as he took his bow, Orr tellingly waved a lot as if departing, the claps were swiftly reciprocated by a happy following in anticipation of the Chambers fist pump. A signature move to sign off a fine display.
cbower added 21:48 - Dec 29
The ground has changed considerably in three decades and the only thing to let the experience down for me today is that there were no tickets available for the top tier where almost all of the travelling faithful were accomodated and we were condemned to the rather excellent view but far reduced atmosphere of the sparsely populated lower tier.
No changes from Mick's Boxing Day winning formula was no real surprise and both MM and TC were warmly applauded by the home fans which was nice to see. A few minutes in and I felt we dodged a bullet when Chambers seemed to get the wrong side of Doyle who went to ground inside the box. To my relief, the ref waved away penalty appeals but it looked a decent shout for me. Martin, busy as ever, spurned an opportunity for Town in a fairly even opening period. The home side's passing was clumsy and gradually our midfield started to wrestle control. Home attempts did not really threaten Henderson's goal and the game seemed there for the taking. Shortly after the 30 minute mark, the impressive N'Daw pushed a probing ball into DJ's feet inside the box. The loan man, back to goal, controlled it and laid it back into the path of Cresswell. One touch and the improving full-back placed wth his right boot neatly beyond Ikeme - 1-0 Town. We continued to be on top for the rest of the half without any real clear-cut chances though. The home fans were clearly frustrated and I felt a second would see them turn on their own side.
N'Daw drew a flying save from Ikeme within minutes of the re-start with a long range effort destined for the top corner. From the resultant corner, Chambers blasted over. Town were once more in control with the defence looking commanding, the midfield industrious and unrushed, and Murphy and Campbell working effectively up top. The home side, on the other hand, were increasingly lack-lustre with their passing very poor at times. They posed little genuine threat at all. Just after the hour mark, Campbell latched on to a headed clearance from Chambers. Taking the ball neatly on his thigh into his stride and beyond the Wolves defence he dispatched the ball under the onrushing Ikeme for 2-0. Straight away the Wolves boss elected for a triple susbstitution including the withdrawl of Doyle. His decision was met with chants of "you don't know what you're doing!". Town fans seemed happy to join in! A few further opportunites came and went, Reo-Coker replaced Drury and Chopra came on for DJ and Town remained in complete control. Chopra hit one shot ridiculously wide before spurning an even better opportunity when a breaking Reo-Coker put the Town number 10 clean in on goal. Instead of shooting first time, he elected to cut inside but placed his effort wide of Ikeme's goal. It was the last real event before the ref blew after 4 minutes of added-on time. Home boos were loud but Town's celebrations were not. The players made their way over, Edwards doing some kind of jig and Chambers giving his now customary rabble-rousing winning celebration. Around the centre circle, Mick Mcarthy acknowledged the fans and I bet inwardly he was loving the "Super, super Mick" chants of his new believers more than ever before.
Some comments on the players:
Henderson - not much to do but he did it all well.
Orr - solid, competent and professional.
Chambers - getting better. Good defending, won his share in the air.
Smith - forming a nicecentral defensive partnership with Chambers. Attacking the ball and covering his fellow defenders well.
Cresswell - great goal, winning headers too! Better defensively than earlier in the season.
Edwards - calm and industrious and worth his place. I still question his delivery from wide at times though.
Drury - Although I am not really a fan, Andy played well today and deserved the applause he got when he was substituted.
N'Daw - He was dominant. Tackles, and headers were won and he just refuses to panic when in a tight situation. He holds the ball and brings others into play. Would have been goal of the season had Ikeme not produced a great save from his 25yard effort after half-time.
Martin - I have criticised Martin for lack of end product but no-one should have a go at Lee for his 100% effort and contribution to the cause. He deserves a goal or two for his endeavour alone. Hope he signs a new contract but probably won't get the same cash he gets now so it's not that likely I guess.
Campbell - well, he scores when he wants doesn't he? Well taken goal & instrumental in the first. Will he sign for us? That's what the fans want with chants of "sign him up."
Murphy - I have regularly lambasted Murph for his powder puff efforts when up against rough and tumble defending but he is changing my opinion. MM has clearly asked for a more physical side from Daryl and he is getting it. Winning his share of aerial battles, holding the ball up and working his nuts off along the line, Murph looks like a genuine centre forward. A strong contender for MoM today for me.
Reo-Coker - the right sub at the right time to kill the game. Did fine in his 20 minutes.
Chopra - Only on for 15 minutes and held it up well, ran into the channels but spurned a really good opportunity to make it 3-0 late on.
Things really looking up for us. Hope my ramblings give some of you a bit extra if you didn't make it to Molineux today.
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