Wolves and Newcastle took football back to the golden years yesterday with a blood and guts contest fought to the bitter end.
Captain Karl Henry signaled his intent with a thunderous tackle on Joey Barton less than a minute into the game, which set the tone for the afternoon.
Wolves have been accused of setting out to wind up the shortest fuse in football, yet despite finding himself on the end of repeated crunching tackles, some of them legit, some of them not shall we say, Barton somehow managed to keep his temper and only found himself in the book with his first significant foul of the game late on.
The battle between Henry and Barton took central stage yet epitomized the fashion of this game from start to finish as both sides proved they were out for the win and would take no prisoners either way.
Newcastle created most of the best chances and whilst there is one argument they did enough to win, the proof is always in the pudding, Sylvan Ebanks Blake put us ahead with an exceptional finish, and if the referee had given the blatant penalty early into the second half following a clear foul on Matt Jarvis in the box, it could have been 2-0 and Good Night Vienna.
To the despair and disbelief of Wolves fans in particular he spun a stone wall decision upside down and allowed Newcastle a reprieve.
Just after the hour mark, man of the moment Andy Carroll scored with a trademark header to level the scores and earn his side the point they ultimately deserved.
Newcastle were out of the gates well as we expected clearly brimming with confidence from last week’s trouncing of neighbours Aston Villa, and Marcus Hahnemann had a few shaky moments in the first half, particularly when he was out of position and rounded by Routledge who drew his cross behind Barton.
Hahnemann reddemed himself in the second half with some important saves, although it was a sensational piece of defending from Stephen Ward, which went practically unnoticed, came to the rescue by getting a toe on an Ameobi header that was about to be converted at the far post by the lurking Nolan, another from the Newcastle midfield who was an industrious threat throughout.
Wolves looked shakier at the back at times than they have done this season and were cut open on several occasions throughout the game, but there always proved a man on hand.
Make no mistake, Wolves were more than value for their money. Henry was immense in midfield, Craddock and Berra still prove a formidable combination together at the back, Kevin Foley, who ultimately played in three different positions by the time this game had ended, must remain the greatest unsung talent. Jarvis continues to prove a Premiership menace with his skill, agility and pace, Ward more than holds his own week in week out, Van Damme proved his presence and crossed for our goal, whilst Doyle caused mischief and well, Blakey staked another claim that he will not be left out of the starting line up anytime soon. His ability to bring down a looping forty yard cross was stunning in itself, his executed finish was the finish some strikers can only ever dream of.
Zubar and Guediora came on and added fresh impetus although their most notable moments were each picking up bookings for tremendously hacking the lovable character that is Joey Barton.
Record signing Stephen Fletcher replaced Doyle on 72 minutes but in all fairness both look somewhat short of full fitness and whilst giving Newcastle plenty to deal with he was unable to make an impact.
A blood and thunder contest that if all truth be told, it would have been cruel to see either side lose.
Unusually shaky early on but was otherwise his more than reliable self commanding his area and proving why his defenders in front of him set out with confidence.
By the time the game had finished Foley had played right back, right midfield and center midfield. Never put a foot wrong and his controlled ability leaves him a stand out player who has of late, not been receiving the plaudits he clearly deserves.
Van Damme (7)
What a beast. Gives the side more aggression but take nothing away from his talent. Hardly put a foot wrong, nailed Barton earning an extra point and provided the cross for the goal.
The Fine Wine continues to get better with time. Another outstanding performance from Jody. There will be no shifting this fella from the side. One of a few who should have been tighter to Carroll however for the goal.
Tremendous partnership. The fact we have not conceded more than one in an game this season is testament to the partnership at the back and Berra was once again on top of his game. Mr. Consistency springs to mind
Was on and into everything. Everyone was looking forward to him locking horns with Barton but none of us saw this coming. Barton had a good game but Henry was head and shoulders above, as was his challenge late in the game which almost resulted in a decapitation.
Always a tidy player on the ball, and a threat but this was not his most effective performance and with the competition we have he has to stay at the top of his game.
Versatile. Reliable. A threat going forward, and stealth at the back as proven when he nicked the ball out of harms way when Nolan looked to sneak into score.
Proving himself a quality Premiership player. His pace and agility continues to strike the dear into defenders. His tracking back goes unnoticed at times. Impossible as things stand to imagine him not being one of the first names on the team sheet. Won a clear penalty that the ref ignored. If converted the game was ours.
Whoever put up the MISSING PERSON posters should be applauded because after a year MIA, Blakey has returned as the player we know. His two goals have already shown he can do it at this level and his all round game, alongside his constant threat in the area gives Mick the headache he dreamed of.
Will run himself into the ground and is such an intelligent player. Movement on and off the ball was a joy to watch as always but he looks a few games away from his true self.
Zubar (6)- 56 mins
Gave away the free kick that lead to the goal but kicked/slapped Barton which receives a gold star.
Guediora (7)- 72 mins
Continues to show his tougher side with a delightful challenge on Barton. Busy and always looks a danger going forward. Will be pushing hard for a start soon.
A presence and gave them plenty to worry about. Like Doyle, looks like it may take him a couple of games before he is back in full swing of things.