It was a tepid display from Spurs, reminiscent of so many occasions gone by when the North London side haven’t performed in games they should, on paper at least, be winning. Much like the reverse fixture at White Hart Lane in December Harry Redknapp’s side saw plenty of the ball but produced little with it and found Old Gold shirts wherever they turned. Wolves hunted in packs and in the end the lilywhites had no answer.
After Sunday’s capitulation at St Andrews there was a sense of nervousness in the ice cold Molineux air when proceedings got underway and this wasn’t helped as Spurs started brightly and controlled the early stages of the match – with David Bentley and Gareth Bale causing the Wolves full-backs all sorts of problems. And in the 20th minute when Kranjcar found himself with just the ‘keeper to beat – after neat play between Eidur Gujohnsen and Jermain Defoe – there was a deep intake of breath in the stands. But Marcus Hahnemann was equal to it and smothered the Croatian international’s effort. At this stage it was the Spurs fans that could sense blood and they were the ones in good voice.
But then two notable things happened. Wolves retaliated with an attack of their own when Kevin Doyle beat the offside trap and found himself in acres of space. He was unable to work his way towards goal and was pushed wide with his shot eventually being blocked. It was a warning for Spurs though and McCarthy barked from the touchline ordering his young side to build on this opening. So too did the supporters. But it was the Pantomime Villain, Mark Clattenburg, who really got the Molineux hoards going. As decision after decision went against their side the vociferous South Bank could not help telling Mr Clattenburg he was “not fit to referee” – the umpteenth official to be given such an accolade at Molineux this season. The ever increasing atmosphere came to a boiling point in the 37th minute when, after build-up play involving 18 passes, Dave Jones finished off Matt Jarvis’ cross with aplomb to put Wolves in front.
As the half drew to a close the referee was again the centre of attention as Jarvis’ appeals for a penalty – after what looked to be a trip from Michael Dawson – were waved on. The crowd was, once more, incensed.
The second period saw Wanderers sit back and allow the visitors to play in front of them, but Spurs were unsuccessful with their creative endeavours. The introduction of Wilson Palacios and Peter Crouch gave the men in white more bite but it wasn’t enough to break down their opponents’ resilient defence. The final whistle was met with glee from the majority of the 27,992 spectators. But the away followers trudged back to London and through the M6 road works knowing their side didn’t turn up.
The last time Wolves did the double over the men from White Hart Lane was in 1954 when the Black Country club were winning league titles and FA Cups galore. This year pure survival is the aim. More performances like this and they might just achieve it. And Tottenham, if they are to ever break into this country’s top four will need to be made of sterner stuff in the future.
Moving on to the player ratings….
Hahnemann – 8
Saved brilliantly at Kranjcar’s feet in the early stages and continues to command his box expertly. Claimed numerous balls into the box during the second half.
Zubar – 7
A whole-hearted display from the Frenchman. He struggled with Gareth Bale’s pace and strength for much of the game, but many better players will find the Welshman a difficult opponent. Got forward and supported Foley well.
Craddock – 8
Another fine display from the veteran who continues to defy the odds this season. Won everything in the air.
Berra – 9
An imperious display from the Scot. He is quicker than he looks and marshalled Defoe well in the first half and then dealt with Crouch, an entirely different proposition, just as well in the second.
Ward – 5
Has looked out of sorts in his last two appearances and found Bentley difficult to deal with, allowing him far too much space. His substitution seemed to be tactical but could also be down to a slight injury.
Foley – 6
After a slightly shaky start in which he lost the ball a couple of times, it was a steady performance from Mr Dependable. Last year’s player-of-the-season is doing an admirable job out of position.
Guedioura – 8
His first half display was among the best debut performances seen at Molineux in many a year. Looked bright, tenacious and always looking for a forward pass. Shimmied himself through the Spurs midfield at one point and almost found himself one-on-one with Gomes. Tired in the second half, but this is understandable as he will not be used to the pace of the Premier League just yet.
Henry – 7
Typical display from the Wolves captain. Great harrying and worked very well with his midfield partners. Sat back and did what he does best.
Jones – 8
Involved in the build-up and then added a controlled finish to give his team that vital goal. Passed well all night and given a bottle of champagne by John Motson on Match-of-the-Day. You can’t ask for much more than that.
Jarvis – 8
Great display from the so often frustrating winger. He is always liable to give full-backs a torrid time with his pace but he seemed more confident than of late. Crossed at the right times and also held onto the ball when needed to.
Doyle – 9
More sensational work-rate from the Irishman, and was always giving the Spurs centre-backs something to worry about. Selflessly ran the front-line and forever an outlet for the Wolves defence, holding the ball up and allowing the midfield to support him. Man of the match.
George Elokobi – 6
The gigantic defender did well after getting booked within minutes of coming on. Stuck to his task and cleared danger when needed.
Michael Mancienne – 6
Sat deeper than Guedioura which invited pressure but did what was needed.
Nenad Milijas – 5
Looked slightly sluggish and couldn’t get into the high tempo, with the little time he had.
Gomes – 6
Despite Wolves’ good play in the first half he didn’t have to pull off many saves and was helpless for the goal.
Kaboul – 4
Given a torrid time by the speedy Jarvis and, at times, looked all at sea. He didn’t look at all comfortable at right-back in his first appearance since his return from Portsmouth. Spurs fans will be hoping there is a lot more to come from him.
Dawson – 7
One of Tottenham’s better performers and a typically hard-working display from their captain. He certainly knew he had been in a game with Doyle but he coped with his rival better than his defensive partner.
Bassong – 5
Struggled with Doyle’s constant pace, power and work-rate and allowed the Irishman to get the better of him on a number of occasions.
Bale – 7
The Welshman didn’t have too much to worry about defensively as most of Wolves’ threat came down the other flank and this allowed him plenty of opportunities to bomb forward. He proved a nuisance to Ronald Zubar all evening, often knocking the ball on and surging past his adversary at ease.
Bentley – 6
Looked extremely dangerous early on with much of Spurs’ attacking intent going through him. Gave Stephen Ward a torrid time but sometimes held onto the ball too long and wasted a few opportunities to whip a cross in.
Jenas – 4
The playmaker looked completely out of sorts and was rightly subbed at half-time. His passing was atrocious and he just couldn’t stamp any kind of authority on the game. Has struggled for starts this season and this performance will not help him cause.
Huddlestone – 5
Some nice touches from the big man as always but lacked mobility and despite having a few chances to hit one of his trademark power-drives was unable to test the ‘keeper.
Kranjcar – 5
Looked to come inside and hurt Wolves that way and it so almost worked. Things could have been a whole lot different if he had put away his fantastic chance in the first half.
Defoe – 6
Was caught offside numerous times in the opening stages and it looked like it would be only a matter of time before he beat the trap as Wolves were defending with a high line. As Wolves got deeper he became less and less effective.
Gudjohnsen – 5
A disappointing debut from the Iceland international but was heavily involved in the build up for Kranjcar’s chance when he dropped deep and slotted a delightful ball into Defoe. Redknapp will be looking for more regular link-ups like this from his front two in the coming weeks.
Palacios – 6
Coped with the high energy Wolves middle three much better than the ineffective Jenas. His shot near the end could have gone anywhere after its deflection. It was a strange decision by ‘Arry not to start with his midfield dynamo.
Crouch – 6
When he came on at White Hart Lane in the reverse fixture he created problems for the Wolves back four so would have been disappointed not to start. Added a different dimension to the Spurs attack but in the end was crowded out.
Modric – 5
The little Croatian created little despite seeing plenty of the ball in his short time on the pitch.
Gave Adlene Guedioura his first start and it worked wonders, giving the Wolves midfield a different edge.
Made five changes to his team and it failed. Will now be desperately hoping his side progress into the next round of the FA Cup at the weekend.
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