A slightly numb feeling has descended over BBOAH towers this morning as I write. Normally this weekend, with the clocks going back, is ideal for a bit of a longer report, followed by a longer Sunday morning run, to fully appreciate the extra (dark) hour given to us.
However, a slightly grim feeling has taken hold. On NSC last night, debating the quality of this very game and performance, a couple of threads suddenly came up that put the game in to perspective. Firstly an elderly Albion fan tragically collapsed and died before the game, according to reports. And then there was the first news of the helicopter crash at Leicester. Their chairman has done amazing things with that club and, while it is far too early to be speculating on casualties or cause, this has clearly shaken the club. Football, after that, really is just twenty two men kicking a bag of wind about.
We set off and got delayed on the way, so it was straight to the ground. There AITC were doing a great job with their one pound appeal. The Boy tried to kick a football through some very small round holes and got a selfie with a giant football made of the rubbish collected from the Spurs game. I had a quick beer. Lots of sweets were consumed. We’d need the sustenance.
In a poor first half we sat too deep and gave Wolves far too much respect. The incisiveness was never really there from our visitors but dropping back due to their pace and our lack of it was inviting on. What we lack in pace at the back, however, we more than make up for in organisation, determination and blocking and heading ability. The line held firm, and time and again, Dunk and Duffy cleared the lines. However, with Murray isolated against three defenders we rarely looked like doing much with it.
The one time this changed for us was a quick break down the left that saw March overlap in to a wide position from his, now customary, “number 10”. He slung in a fast, low cross which Murray, on 99 club goals, threw a boot at and just missed. However, the two best chances of the half were about to appear.
A diagonal ball out to the Wolves right, one of several that troubled us, wasn’t dealt with and suddenly Doherty walked through our defence, totally unchallenged, only to somehow shoot wide when it was easier to score. Then, at the end of the half, we had a corner which we worked in the air to the unmarked Duffy who somehow headed on to the outside of the post and wide when it was easier to score. It was fair to say the game needed a goal.
It duly got one. Just three minutes after the restart and a long cross from a set piece on the left was knocked down and run on to by a charging Bruno. Was he going to slam it in the top bins? No. Instead it was scuffed across goal where the unmarked Murray tapped it in first time with a cool finish. Goal number 100 and THAT celebration from the Withdean days came out. Still no idea what it means.
This was the cue for Wolves to attack from all sides but, though they has a lot of possession and territory, they still lacked quality. Lots of shots but all blocked, wide or comfortably at Ryan. We stuck at hitting on the break and, I imagine, nearly frustrated Ali J in to submission. First it was Izquierdo breaking through that just had to release Ali to his right but instead carried on running (more slowly) at the defender, to eventually spurn the chance.
Then we got a taste of why Maty Ryan is still so valuable to us, the Aussie shot stopper seemingly getting better every game, as Wolves found their radar and Maty clean stopped a low shot with a crowd in front of him before producing the save of the game with an incredible reflex stop that I was certain had seen Wolves score.
There was still time for Knocky to commit the second breakaway error, streaming clear before again failing to find the unmarked Ali, and that was it. A poor match? Not up to the United game, that’s for sure, but I care not one bit. The only things that matter are three statistics; another three points, another clean sheet and the ton up for Murray. Everything else is window dressing. I’ll happily take every other home game ending that way right now.