This was less a game of two halves, more a game of one referee.¬† Without wishing to distract from the inadequacies of Wolves performance today, this game was stifled by a referee who lost control within the first ten minutes.¬† Wolves were barely able to string three passes together all game, and the ref did nothing to encourage the flow of play.
There were two goals, but the most extraordinary statistic was that the referee, Stuart Atwell (overseer of the infamous imaginary goal for Reading against Watford, amongst other blunders) stopped the game for no fewer than 41 fouls, handing out in the process 12 yellow cards in a not unusually ill-natured game (seven to Wolves, four for fouls on Joey Barton! ).¬† Barton finally got his comeuppance as Atwell tried to redress the imbalance by booking three Toon players in the last three minutes – the last of whom was Barton. Characteristically of the game, when the ref blew for him to come over for a booking, Barton deliberately ignored the summons.¬† Instead of asserting his authority, Atwell walked half the length of the pitch to save Barton’s legs.¬† On one final referring point, the WorldWideWolfie nomination for stupidest card of the game was Doyle’s for…literally nothing.¬† Running with the ball??
A draw was, given the balance of play, a good result for Wolves, but a far from pleasing one.¬† That we went in ahead at half time was more a testament to Newcastle’s inadequacies in front of goal that any reflection of merit.¬† It was good for a change to be the b******* who got a thoroughly undeserved goal (fantastic from an otherwise anonymous Ebanks-Blake), but it never looked likely to last.¬† Andy Carroll added to his hatrick of last week for Newcastle with a decent header, and even after the much-needed (and, in my opinion, rather late) introduction of Zubar, Fletcher and Gueidoura, Wolves would have been very lucky to get another.¬† Wolves had played by far their best half of football this season with Fletcher on the field so it was disappointing seeing him sitting on the bench when so many Wolves players were failing to make their mark on the occasion.¬† This was particularly disappointing given that Newcastle looked extremely vulnerable defensively on the rare occasions we got anywhere near their goal.¬† I couldn’t see well enough from where I was whether Jarvis deserved a penalty when he was felled in the box in the box, but I do know that (1) if the defender got the ball it should have been a corner, rather than the goal kick awarded; and (2) a win would have been a very lucky result. (EDIT: having watched the replay, it WAS a penalty so we should have won!)
I assume that an injury to Van Damme was the reason for his substitution as, after a shakey start, he seemed the only player able to take the ball from Newcastle.¬† Poor old Foley looked a more likely candidate for substitution as he was consistently out-muscled by his opponents.¬† It is, perhaps, unfair however to single out Foley on a day that no one really impressed – least of all the referee.
Hoping for much better next time on all counts.