There’s going to be a time over the next few days to review the season, to discuss the games that are left, to speculate on who we should sell, and to chew over why I spent the entire second half of the game seated next to a spoilt brat who just had his arms folded and neither cheered nor booed, even when we scored the equaliser. For now I’m just going to try to focus a little on the game and leave the meaning of life for some time in the future.
The team was a mix of good and bad. Iwelumo and Lita partnered up front, which looked good to me. But Holland and Semedo were still paired in central midfield (both worthy players but a partnership made in hell) and Halford and Thatcher had the nod over Youga and Moutaouakil. Thomas and Ambrose provided the width. But whatever plan we had for the first 45 minutes quickly went out of the window as we were awful. Conditions were difficult, but that didn’t stop Wolves playing some football – and by doing so embarrassing us.
I wish I could pinpoint why the first half was so bad. Wolves scored a decent goal, with McCarthy calpable for getting the wrong side of their forward, who played a ball in which left Halford against two forwards, including Ebanks-Blake who scored. What I remember as being remarkable was not so much how we struggled to put passes together (which we did), or whether Wolves were more up for the challenge than we were (they were), or whether I was sitting next to a dipstick who took more delight in moaning than in anything going right. What I remember was that we had a couple of half-chances and completely blew them, without anyone thinking twice. Our standard of finishing - and our expectation of our players being able to finish - has indeed fallen that low.
That we went into the break on equal terms was remarkable. Thomas, who again looked our most dangerous outlet but at the same time sometimes flattered to deceive, managed to get the ball across at the second attempt and Halford scored. Wolves went on to hit the post and continue to outplay us, but there it was at the break: 1-1.
It did change. Ambrose, who had a 45 minutes which I hope he was embarrassed by, was replaced by Zheng, and there was at least more urgency, even if we nearly went 2-1 down early on. Through a combination of greater effort and persistence we had the better of the next 20 minutes. Lita was looking dangerous and the combination with Iwelumo was causing problems for Wolves. We had three or four situations where we could have scored. We didn’t.
Then Ebanks-Blake scored the sort of goal that you should just applaud. Gera nearly buried us a week ago – and if his volley had gone in we should have just said so be it. This time around I have no idea how he scored. But he did, after we had failed to do so from much more promising situations. It’s what he’s paid to do. They have him. So we were losing 2-1 in a game we should have been behind at the break but then ahead after half time.
We made more changes, with Thomas departing for Cook and Semedo giving way for Varney. But in stoppage time it looked as though we would be denied. Then a decent ball in from the right and Lita moved well to get ahead of his marker and the keeper to score. He celebrated like we had discovered the secret of the universe. Suddenly we had two minutes to get the winner. Oh, silly us. We had two minutes to gift them the winner. I’m not quite sure how we managed to do that, but it was just one of those things. They were comfortable converting chances.
As the players left the pitch there was no doubting that we were unfortunate to have lost. But we were lucky to be level at the break. We had done enough to have at least drawn the game. But that wasn’t enough. A point wasn’t enough anyway. So words don’t mean much at the moment. We beat Stoke and Palace and looked better than them. Since then we have failed to beat Watford, Bristol City, WBA and Wolves. So be it. We can’t claim to have been unlucky. Perspective is for tomorrow. I don’t care right now for player ratings, reasons, hopes. Let it go. And let’s start thinking about next season.