A few Wolves players’ old mums will be busy writing to PE Teacher-in-Chief McCarthy this weekend, asking that their sons be excused the last 15 minutes of a game due to chronic attention deficit disorder.
The worst of the result is that it all could have been so very different. This was a good team performance from Wolves, let down by some appalling moments of lax defending. At 75 minutes, I was disappointed to have to make do with the live stream and radio commentary; 16 minutes later not having to brave the streets of North London was very welcome. At 75 minutes, my 3-1 prediction looked foolish (happily so); at 91 minutes, I felt a lot wiser than I really am.
Tottenham had the better of the first half and Hahnemann had to pull out a couple of fine saves, but Wolves still looked a much better team than against Fulham last week. The packed midfield did a better job of closing down their opponents, and when Fletcher grabbed a close range goal on the stroke of half time, Wolves again went in ahead.
Perhaps in the second half we sat back too much and let them attack, but the enforced substitiutions of Fletcher and, even more so the again-brilliant Jarvis, forced a more conservative approach, and Tottenham were successfully contained for the first half hour. Then Hutton picked up the ball in his own half, ran the length of the pitch with it until felled by Ward. This was a penalty so clear cut that even the referee who had already missed a blatant foul on Jarvis in the box in the first half could do nothing but point to the spot. I hate to see penalties on a player who isn’t even running towards the goal, and Ward’s tackle was stupid and clumsy, but at least as much blame should fall on Mancienne, and a lesser extent Van Damme, who happily tracked Hutton half the length of the pitch without a challenge.
Wolves raised their game, but Spurs get their second after a misplaced pass from Ward. This does not make the goal his fault, but I’m hope for more care from a left back in an advanced position with three minutes to play. Spurs’ third in injury time was a bit of a freak as a rebounded clearance looped over Hahnemann’s head. However Stearman’s judgement was clearly at fault, trying the shepherd the ball in front of an opposition player to a keeper who clearly was expecting the more obvious ‘just get it away’ response. Inexplicable, and had Wolves not already thrown the game away he’d be getting a lot more attention for that lapse – much worse than Ward’s.
Tottenham are a good team. To lose to them away is no disgrace. To be second best to them away is not unexpected, and Wolves held their own for much of the match. Doyle was again excellent, and will surely get his goal soon. Jarvis continues in fine form and Van Damme again impressed (perhaps he’ll be able to play a whole game one day!). To lose in those circumstances is desperately disappointing but play like that again, cutting out the moments of stupidity, and we’ll get some decent results this season.