|linhdi added 22:23 - Aug 16|
joshberry94 added 22:57 - Aug 16
Mullet added 00:49 - Aug 17
The same back 5 that unravelled so heartbreakingly at the weekend remained in place. A midfield trio of Skuse, Dougie and Bishop were between Ward on the right wing, Sears on left and Murphy up front. It was definitely 4-3-3, in action it was almost defiantly 4-3-3 in application.
Wolves had a side with much of the same flavour and faces of what Zenga inherited. But there was pace on the wings, and on the bench. Town came into this one with much to prove and the early evidence pleased the 400 or so away fans holding court by the halfway line.
As the home side pressed and pursued every ball, right up to Bart's nose. Mick laid out his players in intricate geometry, each man the nexus of a mesh of tactical lines that formed a tighter and tighter net around Wolves as the game went on.
When Town's first real move in an attacking sense was repelled, Knudsen gamely showed and slung a half volley a couple of feet wide. It was a little glimpse of the feeling returning, after the needling of the weekend. If my criticism of Douglas, and in the last fortnight or so Berra too was not unique – it was unfounded tonight.
I now see what Webster brings. He wins headers, he shows for the ball and he will caress it and then career it forward in arcing bombardments which Murphy made fine work of. There was a sense that as Wolves' pressure eased a little it was as much down to us as them. For all the pre-season talk, we saw more of it in action and not always in slow-motion.
Knudsen and Chambers enjoyed roaming on a big pitch, those inside of them happy to feed. With two quick and industrious wingers beyond them, Town were able to move competently if not always consistently on the offensive. The first moment of real joy again came from Ward. He turned his man like a screw. A whipping motion of his whole being sent him past his marker and carried the ball through. As we once prided ourselves on, so Wolves have an equal sense of togetherness. The gangly central defender Hause clipped him down for mugging of his left back so fluidly.
It was not a dirty game, and yet the ref brandished his foam and finger less with the precision of a barber and more a teenager in a late 90's village hall somewhere. Reactive and easily led, Town pressure was almost cut asunder by a terrible decision. A decent move put the home side in behind our back line. As the sun was coming down, so did Webster sliding in and conceding a corner. The yowls from the Black country contingent saw the ref point to the spot. Webster's face disappeared inside his shirt. The sense of recovery we thought we were witnessing did too.
Pick a side. That's all any man can do in the face of adversity. Bart guessed right and palmed a well taken kick away. Football karma washed over one and all in something not quite approaching nirvana. If the game felt at times like different factions of the universe battling in eternal stalemate, the balance was at least restored.
Town went back on the front foot and it was them who had their tails up. What Mick had fashioned together in the middle was a pairing of Skuse and Douglas that really allowed others to play. When they got the ball it was about options. Try and find one within 5-10 yards or deny one depending on where the scramble went.
Possession would return to the defence, sometimes even back to Bart and although he scuffed at times, the artillery was attritional. One other aerial weapon, Knudsen's fabled throw worked the yards in our favour. Neat series' of them up the line and into the box often played, some exciting, some nervy, half glances and flicks at goal or at least steady build ups. Where Chambers would cross from deep, Sears again worked a series of incisive runs of let the Dane go past his shoulder and supply him the ball to drill along the line.
It was in theses attacks Town won a corner barely minutes after justice had been served by Bart's diving save. Grant Ward swung it in, Murphy moved beautifully and headed beyond everyone. Kisses at the home end as he circled to court his own. Their outrage was an unwanted gift handed to us as the ref bizarrely signalled some invisible infraction and a short corner nearly caught Town on the break.
The sway of the match continued as on both sides of the pitch Town delegates held inquiries and registered their disgust. These were almost put to bed when Skuse made a neat interception and found Teddy just out of arm's reach with a short pass. His little legs kicked into gear and before anyone knew it he was in the box and being hustled out of the chance that came from nowhere.
The first half was exciting. Bizarre, incident filled and fun. Just like summer evenings should be. The ref won even more plaudits after Berra nodded wide from a corner, Town soon won another and the whistle went before it could be taken. What Wolves had, was a front 3 that threatened and throbbed. What Town had was a fear that despite the marked improvement, the match might climax and leave us unfulfilled.
Mick still raging, somehow kept it tight in and out of the tunnel with no changes. Zenga tinkered and dropped Teixeira from left wing, to wandering midfield. Skuse clearly had the order or the authority to trail to gravity loving little prick. He stuck to him like an ambling West country shadow. As the game went on, darkness overcame the youngster clearly rattled by this unwanted cultural exchange.
Bishop would be one of many strange bookings. Winning the ball cleanly from the naughty #24, who was injured just long enough for a card to be waved, before trotting off to take his place for the free kick.
Town meanwhile had found themselves again building from the back. Douglas never really passed longer than he could cover lying down. Only momentum and the turning circle of a canal boat made him run much further, but he put in a shift rarely seen from him. While Skuse held, he harried. It still allowed the others to play long into the night, or at least push the home side back time and again.
When Wolves switched shape again and produced another young winger from the bench in Costa, the home fans clearly wanted their team to put their stamp on the match. The second quick little winger was up against Knudsen and Teixeira went back at Chambo, via Skuse.
The effect was such that it was the left back who got free thanks to the support of those around him to cross deeply for the umpteenth time. It was the captain who was free to leap at the back post and was just not tall enough to crash home yet another header and give us a deserved opener. With time marching on, you felt a winner would come from one moment.
That moment nearly came when Costa slipped free after a free kick which saw Knudsen booked in a questionable light. What flashed across the box was not just Bart's rippling neon frame, but a sweet volley on the turn. The second of two crucial saves that kept Town in the match, and Bart in the forefront of everybody's adoration.
Substitute Bru had a very different bow, in line with many of his colleagues who underperformed a few days ago. Neatly sitting and simpler in his tastes. Like many out there tonight, the bigger pitch seemed to give them space to grow into. The Mauritian took a tee from Murphy and punched the ball right at Ikeme. With that and his willingness to play to feet and not just hands he redeemed himself in his cameo.
He was again involved when Ikeme spilled not for the first time tonight, or in his career. The long throws of Knudsen were a more pointed and on point tonight. Chaos often reigned as the two CB's and Murphy hurled themselves at everything all night. It unsettled the old guard in old gold and when Ikeme deigned a goal-kick right at Bru a mere yard away, the booking given was just another one to frown and throw one's arms up at.
This was a man who also booked chambers because he didn't teleport out of the way of not just the ball, but the man losing it being launched at him. At times the officials can mask a team's weaknesses and foibles with questionable decisions. These boys were indulging in some self-pleasuring at their inability to understand the laws of the game.
Only when Berra again frustrated at not forcing a goal in a scramble against his old club, did what Bru did intentionally could you see why the card had been waved aloft. It was sort of funny though, as the game finished at a decent pace.
While nobody was left singing Super Mick and his boys off the field, the whole allocation stood to applaud. This was a theatrical spectacle of two teams tussling. Tactics and approaches changed, balances of power shifted, but no one gave an inch. It's hard to be too disappointed, possession must have been fairly even. Both sides went in on goal plenty. There's a case that Town were denied three points legitimately, we were certainly robbed in the fair play league.
What pleases most of all, was that the head's came out high and stayed high. Ward and Sears worked tirelessly, always showing for the ball. Skuse and Murphy stood with defenders on their shoulders and glanced over them expertly to win or deny space and possession at either end. Bart grabbed the headlines despite pushing both shots away and so he should. But this was a team performance. Every man did his duty as we march towards Norwich, bloodied but no longer with the stench of men already beaten hanging around.
jabberjackson added 20:54 - Aug 19
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