Coca Cola Championship
Wolves 4 West Ham United 2

Saturday, 15th January 2005
by East Stand Martin

I’ve been trying to break the habit. I know it’s ruining my health. I’ve tried hypnosis. I even went to South Africa to try and escape from it. But my willpower failed at the first opportunity and I ended up at Molineux.

There is another West Ham fan with a similar problem to me. I heard him on the radio on the way back as he confided in Dr Alvin Martin live on Talksport. “I spend £2,000 a year on season tickets. This is the worst West Ham team in living memory. What can you say to me Alvin”, he pleaded, “that will make me want to renew next year?” Alvin was sympathetic, “Alan knows that this season is make and break and if he doesn’t make it, I think you might have a point about whether you want to shell out that money next season.”

Some hope. That bloke’s got it as bad as the rest of us and unfortunately that is exactly why Mr Brown is still where he is today. Not only is the team doing our brains in but we get Brown free as well.

Bare bones

If Harry was still running the team, I have no doubt that prior to today’s match he would have said that “We are down to the bare bones”. No Teddy, Matty, Reo-Coker or Fletch. But this was a Wolves team without a win under the nasally whining God worrier. A team that was struggling to score goals. Surely we had a good chance?

In came Mark Noble and Mullins in midfield alongside Sergei and Chadders. Jimmy Walker was also preferred in goal, which seemed to please the Wolves fans, no doubt believing that anyone who used to play for local rivals Walsall just had to be crap.

It seemed to start OK for us, with Chadders in particular looking lively. He latched onto a loose ball as early as the second minute, but his shot was very poor. Wolves began to respond, and on 10 minutes they picked up the ball down the right, but Olofijana – now there’s a name you can’t pronounce with a mouth full of crisps – scooped the ball over the bar from a promising central position.

On 14 minutes, Marlon began to get involved and he went on a powerful bustling run down the right. Unfortunately his cross was less than perfect and it went sailing over the head of the waiting Z-man. Marlon was involved again a minute later when Malky managed to chest a Sergei free kick towards him, but his shot was skewed badly wide.

He’s a Seoul man

On 19 minutes, South Korean International Seol Ki-Hyeon went on a teasing run down the right that seemed to mystify Chris Powell. Fortunately, the Korean was forced wide and Walker coped comfortably with his shot from an acute angle.

A minute later Sergei had a nice turn just on the edge of the box and tried to lift a shot over Wolves ‘keeper Matt Murray, but he grabbed the ball easily.

Chris Powell and Chadders linked up well on 22 minutes and the ball found Zamora on the left. Chadders ran on to take up a good position in the box and when the bal cam over he managed to get a header in which had Murray worried for a second until it landed on the roof of the net.

Leaps like fish but sinks like a stone

Despite some promising signs, it all went badly wrong on 29 minutes when a speculative free kick by Craddock was launched into our box. Up until this point I thought Anton had been doing well and leaping like a fish. He leapt OK, but about two seconds too early. He was on his way down when Cort nodded it on to waiting Craddock who fired home easily from six yards.

Marlon tried to pt things right again on 34 minutes with a great run down the right, but there was no-one on hand to meet the ball as he fired it back across the box from the dead ball line. A minute later we won a free kick, but not for the first time today our dead ball play was woeful – Sergei put it high and wide when he should have at least forced a save.

Sergei made amends on 36 minutes as he rifled in a great pass out to the left of the box when the Wolves defence was expecting him to knock it wide right to Marlon. Zamora gratefully accepted delivery, although for a split second it looked like his touch was lacking. A few Wolves hands went up for offside, but Z-man calmly tucked the ball in under Murray’s body for his first goal in eleven games.

Not much more happened in the half, although Z-man capped his first half performance with a tremendous tracking run back from box to box to win the ball off the advancing Seol.

Meatloaf and his fat friends

At half time, I received my usual text from Jenny the Wolves fan who asked if we were getting wet from the rain that seemed to de driving in horizontally under the stand. 28 degrees of Cape Town sunshine last week, Black Country drizzle this week.

A bloke who was so fat he had his own postcode then came on the pitch to do a Meatloaf impression. They were very proud of him as he was on ‘Stars in Your Eyes’. I learnt from Jenny in the pub afterwards that this character often performed in local working men’s clubs. I think I’d be staying in a lot if I lived up there.

Another bit of fun during the interval was two fans getting the chance to run on goal from the halfway line and try and score. A couple of fat bastards turned up and all they had to do was to try and score within five seconds. One goal was scored in six attempts and the fatter one of the duo looked in need of coronary massage.

Down and then level again

The game was there for the taking, and we started the second half looking like we aimed to try and gain an early advantage. On 47 a Powell free kick found Marlon, but he headed over. Then almost immediately afterwards Zamora picked up a loose ball just outside the box, but Murray’s legs got in the way of a good low shot.

Not for the first time in the game, the ref Clive Penton spectacularly failed to play the advantage after we had burst through midfield, and just after this on 54 minutes, we conceded a soft goal. Seol picked up the ball down the left and put over a deep cross to find the unmarked Miller. Some how he managed to stretch a boot out a angle back a shot which Walker looked to have fumbled. A despairing boot from a West Ham defender could not clear it.

Mark Noble made a great run from the halfway line on 56 minutes and he nearly put Zamora in on goal. Three minutes later Sergei picked up the ball ran 15 yards and then slotted through a nice ball to Marlon who managed to keep two defenders at bay as he ran into the box. He rolled a ball across the six yard box to the waiting Zamora who had the simplest of side foots into the net. Typical. no goals for two and half months and then two come along.

Four minutes later we looked to have taken the lead when Anton’s powerful shot was somehow deflected wide. Everybody around me was celebrating that one until we all noticed that the ref was pointing for a corner.

Advantage Wolves

The next incident on 63 minutes had me foaming at the mouth as a ball that was knocked forward saw a Wolves defender handle it into the path of Zamora who was completely free on goal. Instead of playing the advantage, Penton blew up – no doubt because he thought the assistant ref was flagging for offside.

Two minutes later it looked like we were certain to take the lead as terrific play by Marlon saw Chadders pick up the ball on the left hand side of the box. The shot was good, but once again Murray got his legs in the way.

All the hard work and promise then came to nought as we completely gifted a goal to Wolves on 72 minutes. We looked in little trouble down the left, but for some reason Chadders decided to try and pass the ball across his own goal to Malky who was second best in a tackle with Cort. A pass was made to Miller whose shot was blocked but Repka fluffed the clearance to the waiting Judas who gleefully slotted home. It just had to be him, didn’t it? We should simply not concede goals like that from those positions, the sensible thing would have been to put the ball out of play. That’s what Stuart Pearce would have done, but we got complacent.

Seol rubs salt in the wounds

ESM Jnr immediately said that we would not come back a third time, and so it proved on 76 minutes as the excellent Seol – he probably made the difference today - really rubbed salt in the wounds by leaving Repka for dead and putting over a low cross. There were three West Ham defenders around the advancing Cort but none could beat him to the ball which he put past Walker from point blank range.

The fourth goal really buried us and we created little of note in the final ten minutes despite a couple of substitutions (Williams for Noble and Cohen for Chadders). In fact, it was Wolves that nearly made it 5 with a sweet volley from 25 yards out by Cort that just missed Walker’s right hand post.

With wins by the top two, this defeat has left us outside the playoff places and 11 points off the automatic spots. In fact that win has left Wolves closer to the playoffs than we are to second place. I can now see no prospect at all in anything better than the playoffs, and there has to be a major question mark against that.

In the post-match interviews, Pardew said that he thought all West Ham fans would recognise the effort that had gone in. True enough, but why put in the effort when you undo it all but handing over the game on a plate? That defence has not looked right to me since Davenport left. Wasted effort is as bad as no effort at all. Maybe we can turn things around again. Maybe returning players will give us what we need. Maybe we will beat Derby on Sunday next and then go on a five game unbeaten run. It’s bound to happen, eh?

(Following ratings by Gordon Thrower)

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Player Ratings

Jimmy Walker
Lacked the confidence that he'd shown in his previous matches in the cups and he really ought to have done a lot better with the second goal.

Anton Ferdinand
Needs to eradicate those lapses of concentration sooner rather than later.

Chris Powell
A bit of a 'mare really. His part in the third goal beggars belief.

Tomas Repka
Thankfully Wolves lacked the intelligence to give Soel the instruction to get at Repka, because when the Korean did get down the line he gave the Czech a torrid time.

Malky Mackay
Another possibly good performance spoilt by lapses.

Hayden Mullins
A fairly tidy game, though like everyone else his passing disappeared completely after the third goal went in.

Mark Noble
Got through a lot of hard work though seemed a bit tentative and nervous at times. Distribution needs a bit of work.

Luke Chadwick
One of those games where he had the bit between the teeth. He had the beating of his marker most times and he knew it.

Sergei Rebrov
A good game from Sergei. Made Ince look like a posturing arrogant idiot ?EUR" not the most difficult of tasks admittedly. Excellent ball through to Zamora for the first equaliser.

Marlon Harewood
Played in his dual role of right midfield with a brief to get forward to support Zamora as often as possible. Did well, though personally I prefer to see us with two up. Superb work led to Zamora's second.

Bobby Zamora
The goals did his confidence no end of good. His first touch is still lacking but he clearly got a lift from the match ?EUR" as evidenced by his running back 60 yards from the opposition penalty box to break down a Wolves break. Hopefully his improved confidence will be the one positive thing to come out of the match.


Gavin Williams
(Replaced Noble, 79) Not really on for long enough to make an impression.

Chris Cohen
(Replaced Chadwick, 87) Had even less time to impress.

Stephen Bywater
Did not play.

Rufus Brevett
Did not play.

Andy Melville
Did not play.

Match Facts

West Ham United: Jimmy Walker, Anton Ferdinand, Chris Powell, Tomas Repka, Malky Mackay, Hayden Mullins, Mark Noble, Luke Chadwick, Sergei Rebrov, Marlon Harewood, Bobby Zamora.

Goals: Bobby Zamora 36 Bobby Zamora 57                .

Booked: None booked.           .

Sent Off: None sent off.     .

Wolves: Murray, Naylor, Lescott, Craddock, Clyde, Kennedy, Olofinjana, Seol, Ince, Cort, Miller.

Subs not used: Oakes, Newton, Cooper, Clarke.

Goals: Miller (29, 54), Ince (72), Cort (75).

Booked: Olofinjana (34), Ince (90).

Sent off: None.

Referee: C.Penton.

Attendance: 28,411.

Man of the Match: Luke Chadwick.