COLUMNIST KEN BUCKLEY
Blues triumph in dances with Wolves
The team was announced and, at best, could only be described as makeshift but, by the end of hostilities, those out would no doubt appreciate a fight for places still exists.
Wolves went for it from the off and their 4-4-2 line up demonstrated intent but they had underestimated the acumen of our manager who recognised our plight and flooded midfield which thwarted Wolves by us having the extra man and on the break we were to expose their deficiencies.
Wolves did press for some 20 mins and, but for some superb marshalling and vocal work by Neville allied to grit and determination from our back four, plus endeavour from Heitinga and the effervescent Osman, we drew their sting. Ok, so Ossie had to clear from the line. Jags came close to giving away a pen. And Hibbert dealt with anything thrown down the flank that fed Jarvis as obviously McCarthy had targeted that area as a perceived weakness that the new England left winger could exploit... but, like many others, he had underestimated the class and dogged tenacity of Hibbert.
We flew by the skin of our teeth for 19 mins but it was enough to blunt the Wolves' fangs and so it proved in the 20th minute when Heitinga once again broke up a Wolves move and fed Osman wide right. Ossie looked up, made progress then delivered the cross that found Beckford making the required run that enabled him to glance home beyond the keeper and send the faithful into raptures and (although it was not apparent at the time) set the tone for the rest of the game.
On the half-hour mark, Osman got clear on the right and delivered a beauty to the head of Beckford who headed powerfully but too close to the keeper who parried away. The Blues now looked the better outfit even though the hosts huffed and puffed but without causing too much anxiety, apart from nothing more than forays forward that could have been dangerous but were well dealt with by our rearguard.
It seemed we were doing a professional job no matter our injured-player woes and from a corner on the 40 min mark that Baines whipped in the keeper made a great save by tipping away a header from someone I could not see from my spec. But Beckford was first to the ball and cut it back to Neville who surprised all and sundry by thumping it first time past a startled keeper into the top corner from some 18 yds. We were all delighted and even more so when Neville after seeming to take an age in deciding his celebration suddenly sped to the corner flag and did a ?Cahill?.
2-0 at the break would do us and we started to celebrate that fact but more and better was to come on the cusp of half-time. Heitinga again broke up a Wolves attack, fed Bilyaletdinov who loped forward and two defenders seemed to invite him to shoot. Well he did and from some 30yds with a shot of stunning velocity arrowed the ball past keeper and hit the net before said keeper had even completed his dive. To say the faithful celebrated was an understatement yet many shook heads as the Ref. blew for H/T and to find ourselves 3-0 up with the team and bench on view makes many wonder how good we could be given just a bob or two.
The second half was best described as a ?non-event? as we seemed confident in our ability to hold it. Howard made two good and crucial stops. Bilyaletdinov got booked near the 50-min mark. Hibbert continued to frustrate Jarvis. We did have the odd attack and from one of these Osman had a shot blocked. Magaye, who had been less than influential, was replaced on the hour mark by Big Vic and the fact there was little between them does not bode well.
Vic should have scored from another sporadic attack but missed the chance with the keeper wrong-footed. Bilyaletdinov fired over when well placed. Vellios replaced Beckford on 70 mins and continued in the same vein as Beckford, plenty of running and endeavour but without really being convincing.
Then, with 10 mins to go Bilyaletdinov limped off to be replaced by Academy hopeful Adam Forshaw and, to be honest, for 10 mins he looked the most promising of the youngsters on view. Time will tell. Final whistle and all just sort of celebrated, sang a couple of songs while the players paid homage to the travelling faithful then filed away into the sunshine, many via Asda, which is handily placed.
MotM: Phil Neville.... followed closely by Hibbert and Distin.
Overall a welcome win, a decent day out and, for all the problems with injuries, it is encouraging to witness 14 players laying down a marker and challenging those unfit to win back their places rather than expecting automatic recalls. I was pleased with today?s efforts but I do have concerns over Gueye and Anichebe as both seemed to spurn the chance given to them.
I think from now till end of season will be a good slot for the manager to have a look at one or two hopefuls whilst still striving for as high as possible finish. To be where we are now after such a disappointing season both on and off the pitch is quite remarkable. Manager and players deserve some plaudits. Now can the board perform a comeback that mirrors the team's and give us yet another fighting chance of progression next season? I hope so as I have renewed my ticket... come on, Bill, make my sacrifice worthwhile.
Blackburn next and with every point vital to them should ensure a good afternoon out. As things stand, the best we can do is ensure that Manager and players understand ?We want a Show? and come off the ground with smiles on faces. See you there.
UP THE BLUES
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1 Posted 09/04/2011 at 21:56:19
The performance in general was good today and will hopefully give us confidence for the rest of the season. It has been both reassuring and impressive to witness how Osman has stepped up and taken the responsibility as main playmaker in the absence of Arteta, Fellaini and the loss of Pienaar, but to be honest he always had the ability.
The silver lining to our current injury crisis has been the introduction of our youngsters to Premier League action, and with our current financial situation, may be essential to our future progress. Let's hope that the likes of Forshaw, Vellios, Gueye etc can show the management and the fans what they can offer and hoepefully start challenging for places next season, if nothing else it will aid their development.
2 Posted 09/04/2011 at 22:42:57
3 Posted 09/04/2011 at 22:53:04
My TV reception was unavailable for the whole of the first half so I cannot comment on Magaye. Replays of our goals showed them to be of the highest quality.
Beckford, who I have high hopes for, instead of holding a static position by hovering just on side, would do better being more mobile and involved in our build-up play.
I am certainly looking forward to seeing more of the three youngsters.
4 Posted 10/04/2011 at 00:05:24
Tim's response was "It'll never happen, mate".
Loved Moyes's comment in the after match interview when he said that Neville was definitely trying a cross.
The spat with Beckford and Moyes was apparently Moyes expected more from him in the 2nd half, and told him as he came off. Nothing in it.
Great result, indicative of our topsy-turvy season so far.
5 Posted 10/04/2011 at 00:11:31
Apart from an amazing goal, Bily was absolutely dreadful. What a conundrum he is.
Young academy players like Forshaw and Vellios look so puny compared to the other players and Forshaw didn't catch my eye at all... though Vellios may have something about him. I just saw Kenwright's grinning visage polluting the airwaves on an Andrew Lloyd-Webber documentary. Oh dear.
6 Posted 10/04/2011 at 09:36:46
7 Posted 10/04/2011 at 10:09:27
Without (Pienaar), Fellaini, Arteta, Cahill, Saha we have now started to put a run together and a Euro spot is within sight. Osman was Man of the Match for me yesterday... what a performance!
8 Posted 10/04/2011 at 11:15:39
He's starting to look like the player he was touted as.
Gueye? He's changed the name on the back of his shirt. Got to feel sorry for all the parents who have shelled out for a kit with his surname on the back. Ahem...
9 Posted 10/04/2011 at 12:15:20
I think it is safe to say that since he came in on a regular basis the absense of Steven Pienaar has not been missed in any way, shape or form. I for one was bitterly disappointed when Pienaar left but now on reflection think the team now looks more potent as an attacking force. For all the neat and tidy play Steven never really hirt the opposition. It seems a strange thing to say but we were probably playing too much football. The build up was too slow in midfield and it gave the opposition time to get back and defend.
So, well done Leon, keep up the good work.
10 Posted 10/04/2011 at 14:42:34
11 Posted 10/04/2011 at 17:11:46
Agree with you about Anchibe, just don't get what it is with that lad; limited ability but could at least bother to put in a shift. Hibbo get's critcised, rightly at times but is never found wanting, when it came to commitment & I thought he worked hard & did ok yesterday.
Also agree, Gueye looked lost & I thought Bily apart from his 'screamer' was awful.
My MotM was Osman who really stepped up yesterday & put in a match-winning performance like Fulham away the other season. If only he could do this more often & not disappear against the bigger teams.
Glad you renewed Ken as I have come to trust your post-match reports.
12 Posted 10/04/2011 at 20:22:17
Ossie was not just outstanding yesterday, or last season or whatever Fulham game you are reffering to a couple of years ago!!! He has been superb for the last 6 games; since Arteta pulled up lame a few games ago Ossie has stepped up.
No doubt he knows he is our only creative player, and he is really putting in the performances, so much so that Tony Marsh (or his alter ego) have not uttered a word about his limitations, performances, commitment, etc for weeks.
13 Posted 10/04/2011 at 20:47:12
He has always played well against the Fulhams, West Hams, Wigans and Wolves of the world. The last 5 games have been against Newcastle, Birmingham, Fulham, Villa and Wolves. I think he has stepped up, but the acid test will be against Man United in a couple of weeks!
I hope he has raised his game, but if he disappears into anonymity against United (as he has done in the past against the top sides) than he will still be one of my favourite players for 20-25 matches a season!
14 Posted 11/04/2011 at 10:41:46
Think it may be time for all those who were prophesying certain relegation under the dreadful Moyes to put their hands up.
15 Posted 11/04/2011 at 12:48:24
Hibbert was as solid as they come defensively, impressive considering how good Jarvis is.
I thought Vellios looked pretty good, I saw him set up Bily (for his hilarious double miss) in the last ten minutes or so using intelligence and strength. My Dad reckons he merely fell over, did anyone else notice this? What do you think?
16 Posted 11/04/2011 at 12:57:21
I tend to agree with you in terms of his awareness that Bily was behind him and he used his strength to make sure the ball made it through to him.
I think he looks a decent prospect to be honest. He is much quicker than I had anticipated and he came close to scoring with a superbly taken volley against Villa last week.
Hopefully he will get some more game time against Blackburn!
17 Posted 12/04/2011 at 06:39:05
Forshaw is 29 or 33,
Nsiala is 36 or 44 or 45,
McAleny is 31 or 40,
Craig is 33 or 44,
Bidwell is 36,
Garbutt is 32 or Barkley is 32.
All rather confusing and every website has a different idea! Okay, I'll get my coat....
18 Posted 12/04/2011 at 17:14:52
19 Posted 13/04/2011 at 19:02:26
Well against Wolves we took a chance and got two great goals from distance. It is sort of strange that, both last season and this, when our "good" midfielders are injured we go on a winning streak!
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