Saturday 7th April.
Year after year Wolves promise so much at the start of the season
and yet deliver so little, and Molyneux has been a fairly happy
hunting ground for Town over recent years. This is apart from the
one occasion when I visited a rather tatty looking Molyneux before
the redevelopment work, and we lost 3-0 although I can’t remember
exactly when this was. After the gritty and determined draw on Tuesday
against Crystal Palace Macari made only one change to the starting
11 with Chris Holland making a surprise return after his broken
toe injury, replacing the injured again Simon Baldry.
Once again the weather conditions were atrocious and heavy rain
before the game had put the contest in some doubt, but thankfully
the pitch was declared playable at about 2 o’clock by referee Graham
Frankland. The main difference in Town’s recent performances under
Macari and Jordan is their gritty determination to battle for results,
and once again they adapted to the soggy conditions much better
than their hosts. Apart from an early foray from the hosts in the
4th minute that saw Andy Sinton’s cross cleared by Steve Jenkins,
it was Town who made the best of the dreadful playing surface. In
the 9th minute a Craig Armstrong corner was headed back by Andy
Booth and the unmarked Facey steered the ball towards the goal line,
but it was unfortunately hacked away by Wolves defender Lee Naylor.
I would have said that it was cleared off the line, but I am absolutely
sure that it crossed and the goal should have been awarded. Where
is that Russian linesman when you need him?
Thankfully it mattered little when Delroy made sure less than a
minute later. In similar fashion to the Portsmouth game, Dean Gorré
flicked a ball over the defence for Facey to chase, and although
he always looked second favourite Ludovic Pollet slipped slightly
and completely missed his attempted clearance giving the young Town
striker chance to rifle the ball under the helpless Oakes. After
gifting us three points at the McAlpine in December it was nice
to see that they were still feeling as charitable, and perhaps a
first league double of the season was on the cards.
Town pressed forward in search of a second goal, and Craig Armstrong
brought a good save out of Michael Oakes with a well-struck shot
from the edge of the 18-yard box. Wolves began to get more involved
in the game, particularly Carl Robinson who fired over the bar from
25 yards out and then brought a fine save out of Vaesen with a left
foot shot from 6 yards out. Vaesen had to be alert to deny Robinson
again collecting his 18-yard header from Andy Sinton’s cross, and
as the home side continued to press for an equaliser Lee Naylor’s
25-yard shot passed safely over the bar.
Town also tried to apply pressure to the Wolves defence but most
of our service into the penalty area was aimless and easily cleared,
although Booth did create a chance in the 28th minute but his shot
went narrowly wide. Even Thomas Heary had a pop at goal when he
shot wide from 25 yards out, and with the half coming to a close
Delroy Facey could have doubled the lead but Michael Oakes managed
to save his effort from 6 yards out. The half came to an end with
our 1 goal advantage intact and just 45 more minutes to hold on.
The second half was similar to the first with Wolves pressing for
the equaliser without actually producing too many clear-cut chances,
and credit must be given once again to the back four and, of course,
Nico Vaesen. Just like Tuesday at soggy Selhurst Park, the defence
revelled in the conditions and kept the home side at bay with some
resolute defending and they were well covered by the combative duo
of Armstrong and Holland in midfield. Although it was Holland’s
first game back after the broken toe sustained in the game against
Burnley he showed no after effects, and Macari’s decision to include
him was vindicated by a battling display.
Town had a glorious chance to increase the lead when Lee Morris’s
goal bound shot was deflected off the body of Michael Oakes and
onto the underside of the crossbar, and this was to be virtually
the last that was seen of Town as an attacking threat. Wolves manager
Dave Jones introduced Cedric Roussel and ex-Newcastle striker Temuri
Ketsbaia to try to salvage something from the game, and Town dug
in to protect the precarious 1 goal lead. For all that Wolves enjoyed
the majority of the play in the latter part of the game, staunch
defending restricted the home side to a couple of long-range efforts
from Naylor and Ketsbaia that were both well saved by Vaesen.
Kenny Irons was introduced in the 79th minute as Town looked to
shore things up in the middle of the park, and 5 minutes later Ben
Thornley replaced the injured Lee Morris. Although Wolves weren’t
particularly potent up front today the seconds ticked by so slowly
towards the final whistle, as there is always a nagging doubt that
we can hold on to a single goal lead. Thankfully they did manage
to avoid conceding a late goal and three vital points were heading
up the M6.
This was a vital win today with some really tough games looming
and with Crystal Palace only managing a draw today it was enough
to lift Town out of the bottom three for the first time since February
17th. Wins today for Grimsby and Stockport didn’t particularly help
Town’s cause, but Portsmouth’s late season slide continued with
a home defeat to Nottingham Forest. Tranmere and QPR are starting
to be cast adrift and it is beginning to look as though the third
relegation place could involve any team below 15th in the table.
The important thing now is that our fate is in our own hands and
with a superior goal difference we simply have to equal Crystal
Palace’s results for the rest of the season to ensure our survival,
and with the game against Preston this week even a point might lift
us up another couple of places with only 3 points separating Crystal
Palace in 22nd place and Crewe who occupy 16th position.
Wolverhampton Wanderers 0
TOWN 1 (Facey 10)
Position in table – 21st
Town – Vaesen; Jenkins; Lucketti; Dyson;
Heary; Morris (Thornley 84); Armstrong; Holland; Booth; Facey;
Gorré (Irons 79). Subs not used – Margetson; Moses; Gallen.
Wolverhampton Wanderers – Oakes; Naylor;
Robinson; Pollet; Connelly; Branch (Roussel 54); Sinton (Ketsbaia
68); Ndah; Lescott; Andrews (Emblen 82); Proudlock. Subs not
used – Stowell; Butler.
Referee – Graham Frankland (Nottingham).