Date: 30th January 2011 at 7:30pm
Written by:

I bought my right to listen to our cup game today the easy way, joining my wife to watch Murray play in the final of the Australian tennis championship. I say easy, but in many ways it was like the Wolves match later: plenty of huffing and puffing but error-strewn and ultimately disappointing.

Like Andy Murray, it was a tale of fluffed opportunities. According to the Beacon broadcast, Ward missed several chances, while Vokes headed straight at the goalie (where else?), Fletcher hit the post and Milijas failed to put away a penalty. We also should have ‘won`a spot kick earlier as a result of a Huth elbow in Berra`s face.

At least Murray was beaten by a better player. My notes suggest that the teams shared the first half, though we had the better chances. On the other hand, we seemed to shade the play after the break and should have wrapped up the game long before Huth scored from a needlessly conceded free kick. Even then, Robbie Dennison was confident we would score … and we should have done. Never mind Vokes`s misdirected header, how could Milijas, of all players, fail to convert from the spot? He should have placed the ball 35 yards out in order to get the range and direction!

It`s all a bit conjectural because, again, I have to deliver a report blindfolded, but the game apparently only sparked into life once Huth had scored. Neither side played particularly well and if, true to form, we missed chances, so did Stoke. Hahnemann deserves some plaudits, kicking aside, and kept us in the game on several occasions. It looks as though our lackadaisical side turned up again … but as long as the one with the fighting spirit goes to Bolton on Wednesday, I`ll be happy. Well, I will be if we get a result.

Even so, I find myself remarkably indifferent to the result: we can do without the distraction and the potential injuries. Of course, I am disappointed, especially at the sloppiness of our play but am not as downhearted as I would have been, had Stoke overrun us. If that had occurred, confidence would have suffered (mine is always flaky). I just hope the body-count of limping wounded isn`t too high because we need everyone fit next week. If not, we may see Hammill start a match earlier than expected.

So what of the positives? Again, this is difficult to assess because the commentary in general conflicts with the reports. So, I won`t. Jarvis, however, upped his game and Fletcher showed touches of class (unfortunately, not precise enough touches). We seemed to achieve parity, at least, in midfield, but without making it tell.

In defence, reports suggest that all four players performed reasonably well in spite of occasional lapses, though reference to Berra grabbing Carew round the neck in the tenth minute, had me worried that he was going to get the run-around. Carew and Jones can be a handful. At one point, Dennison claimed that Berra was outpacing Carew, a real result, if true. Perhaps he has been training with the sprinters at Aldersley Stadium. Ah! My long-lost youth!

As a bonus, Jamie O`Hara is coming to bolster our midfield, a great addition as long as his back holds out. Now, that`s a subject I can write about with authority. And are there more to come? Rumour has it that Stoke`s Whelan and/or Faye might be switching to the other side of the pitch in the near future. MM dampened down expectations in his post-match interview but that means nothing. I will be interested in the transfer news tomorrow and, of course, to view the results from the top of the Billy Wright stand on Saturday.