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Wolves Fans' Verdict v Bristol City: What a game!

By Tim Spiers | Wolves | Published:

Our fans try and sum up an incident-packed six goal thriller as Wolves draw 3-3 with Bristol City.

Clockwise from top left; Russ Cockburn, Russ Evers, Adam Virgo, Heather Large, Chris Hughes, Natalie Wood, Clive Smith and Rob Cartwright

Adam Virgo

What's your verdict on the match? A game that had pretty much everything. I thought we played well for most parts and unlucky in the end to not come away with all three points. We weren't exactly helped by a few questionable refereeing decisions, but when you score three goals at home it should be enough to win the game.

Set pieces are still a problem and we need to do some serious work on the training ground for defending them. I'm not a fan of zonal marking but I don't think that's the only problem when we're defending a set piece. I would rather us use man marking personally, I think for English football it suits the game better considering how physical it is, whereas abroad you might get away with zonal marking a lot more.

We were still the better team throughout though, I remember John Ruddy having one save to make, the goals he could do nothing about but we could have easily scored six with the chances we created. If we can play like that and create chances like we did in most games then I'm confident we'll win far more than we'll draw or lose.

Who played well – and who didn't impress? It was Ivan Cavaleiro's first start of the season and boy did he show Nuno why he should be starting every week. He was the spearhead of every attack and two of our goals came through him. I'm sure the Bristol City left back was glad when Cavaleiro was taken off as he gave him a torrid time all night.

Doherty had arguably his best game of the season so far. Got up and down that right flank, constantly overlapping and drilling crosses across the box. Bristol City couldn't deal with it most of the time and even Vinagre on the other flank, got in behind a few times and got an assist himself. When we can get our wing backs in full flow and when they overlap and start smashing crosses across the box, that's where we can hurt teams a lot.

The back three didn't have any problems and I felt from open play we did a good job. Set pieces you defend as a whole team and as good as Neves has been this season, the first goal he should have cleared the ball but his mis-hit led to the first half equaliser. If we can cut these errors out when defending set pieces we'll have very little problems, especially considering only two goals out of the seven we've conceded have come from open play.

Bonatini did well again, in the box he's a poacher and outside the box he is all about playing with his back to goal and laying it off to the players around him. His lay off to Jota when he smashed his volley against the bar was exceptional, would have been a lovely goal if it had gone in. Wouldn't be surprised if Bonatini scored 15-20+ this season because he's always getting in the box and with three goals already he's on par with most players in the league.

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Russ Evers (Hatherton Wolves)

What's your verdict on the match? And the rollercoaster returns! No one could say the game was less than entertaining with both sides doing their best in poor conditions.

But quite how you get rained on at the back of your head and neck when sitting 27 rows back in the North Bank was as much a debating point as some of the ref's decisions.

He was the latest in a long line of clowns and gave some quite baffling decisions, awarding City a harsh penalty for handball whilst denying us one when captain Danny became the latest wolf to be manhandled by the big visitors for no reward or protection.

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Bonatini scored and really should have added at least one other, Jota also scored and smashed a volley against the bar but it was left to the hugely proved Danny Batth to rescue us late on with a storming header.

If we can beat the first man more often on crosses and defend high balls a bit better we will not be far off come May.

Who played well – and who didn't impress? Jota was again superb despite some physical batterings whilst Neves worked tirelessly in midfield where, despite an encouraging start from N'Diaye, we missed Saiss.

Doherty and Vinagre were again very good and give us an outlet every time. Now if they can only sort out the rain coming into the North Bank......

Russ Cockburn

What's your verdict on the match? Wow. Well if you didn’t enjoy that game you shouldn’t be watching the beautiful game. It had everything…great attacking play, chances galore, ups and downs, a real feast of good football and shaky defending.

It was like eating out at The Ivy instead of the Chicken Joes on Broad Street we are used to and a million miles away from some of the turgid stuff served up under Lambert, Hoddle and Solbakken. Okay, the end result was only a point, but for me the important thing is the evolution we have seen in just seven league games.

We look a completely different team. Fluid on the ball, good in possession and some of the trickery by Jota, Cav, Neves and Doherty needs parental guidance it’s that naughty. In fact, the last time I was this excited Denise Van Outen was wearing a low cut top on the Big Breakfast.

Let’s not get carried away, there are issues that need ironing out and most of those exist around our defensive shape at set pieces. I’ve said previously I’m not a fan of zonal marking and I’m sticking with that. I also can’t understand why we pull everyone back, meaning the opposition can put more people in an already congested box…it just doesn’t make any sense.

We also need to start taking more of our chances and putting teams to bed. Hopefully, that will come in time or with the addition of another striker in January, who I still think we desperately need.

On Saturday, we move on to Forest, which looks another tough but winnable game. Fourth place, a system/style developing and Costa to come into an already firing team…I’m getting to the stage where I think a promotion challenge is firmly on the cards.

Who played well – and who didn't impress? Encouragingly there was a lot of good performers again. Coady with his raking 60 yard passes, N’Diaye with a robust full debut and Cav looking a major threat until he ran out of steam.

However, there were two main contenders for man of the match…Jota and Doherty. The latter is fitting seamlessly into this new system and is a major threat going forward. In fact, if we’d have signed him from Portugal or Spain pre-season, we’d be talking about having a £20m player on our hands…he really is that good. He’s even lost those gloves so gets an extra point from me for that.

What can you say about Jota. He was like a big bowl of bananas and custard, a nobbly bobbly on a summer's day, a golden glow with a cheese cob in the Western.

How on earth we’ve managed to convince him to ply his trade in the Championship is beyond me. His movement, his technique, his shooting…it’s like we’ve purchased Mark Collis on Championship Manager.

I also like the fact he doesn’t mind being kicked, actually I think he likes it as he knows he’s got the opposition worried. When him and Costa link up it will be the sexiest double act since Denise Richards and Neve Campbell got it on in Wild Things.

In terms of who didn’t play well, I thought Miranda looked shaky at time and Neves was a little bit subdued. Going to be a bit controversial here, but I’m expecting a bit more from our £15m wonder kid.

Finally, the real stinkers on the pitch were the officials. The ref offered little protection to Jota, whilst deciding to give Bristol City pretty much every soft decision he could, including the penalty.

He was ably assisted by his two linesmen. I didn’t think it was possible, but they looked even more gormless and made fewer right decisions than Dean Saunders...a real achievement that one.

Rob Cartwright

What's your verdict on the match? Bristol will look on this as their best earned point of their season; for Wolves maybe a 'watershed' moment. The game should have been dead and buried before the first equaliser. To fall behind was a travesty. Two dubious penalty decisions went against us yet the crowd, appreciative of the skilful play and effort, kept with the team to the end.

There were two changes to the starting team but we have become to realise that whatever Nuno chooses to do it will be a good, well balanced team. Also a stronger looking bench with each game and Costa still to return. The future looks good.

Chance after chance flashed across the Bristol six yard box with no one present to get the vital touch. On the occasions there was someone there we either scored or went very close, such as Jota's half-volley rattling the crossbar in the second half.

On another night we could have scored five or six quite easily.

There were two contentious penalty decisions in the second half – both went against Wolves.

Bristol City's penalty was harsh on Vinagre as the linesman who was closest and directly in line didn't give it...the ref who was looking at his back and behind play did. At the time, live, I thought it had hit him in the face. Replays show the momentum of his run caused his arm to be raised. The ref had guessed, wrongly in my opinion.

With Batth, he was barged over in the box. It was a clear penalty. Winning the ball is no excuse for taking the player out.

That said, we should have been two goals clear, at least. You could argue we are lacking a striker, but I think it is more about the need to get players into the six yard box quickly when we are on the attack, particularly a counter-attack.

Who played well – and who didn't impress? Cavaleiro surely did enough to warrant his starting position in the team. Bonatini had a very good game linking play, holding the ball and dragging defenders out of position. He also got another goal, so a good night's work.

Neves did well on a cold and rainy Tuesday night, though I did feel he missed his partner Saiss to some extent.

N'Diaye impressed me on his full debut - another good signing. Star player was the majestic Jota. Never stopped running, great passing despite continual fouling by Bristol players, largely unpunished. He deserved his goal.

Very disappointed at the end, but also satisfied that this team is moving in the right direction as they gel together. We conceded the first goals for over five hours, but it is more relevant that we also scored three and it could have been more.

We are playing exciting football and fans cannot wait for the next game. How good does that feel?

Chris Hughes

What's your verdict on the match? During a pre-match catch up with someone who hasn't been to many games this season I was asked what to expect from our performance. My response of "expect us to play a tight, organised game with a few chances that will probably end up one or two-nil" was pretty inaccurate to say the least!

As it was, this was a pretty one-sided 3-3 draw. Wolves again played some excellent passing football at times. With the added menace of Cavaleiro and Jota looking to run at opponents in the final third and cause trouble, we were being treated to more quality entertainment than a Jackson 5 gig.

While being solid at the back in general play we were again shaky at set pieces and conceded two of the three goals from more sloppy play at corners. Nuno needs to get them working on that part of the game as quickly as possible so that we make it look as easy as ABC.

Young Vinagre, who had a fine game, will be disappointed with himself for hanging a stray arm out when looking to block a cross. Was it harsh? The Force was strong in the cross and, at that close range maybe it was a little, but watch the top defenders these days when they track a wide player heading towards the box and they all defend with hands purposely behind their back to ensure they don't fall victim to the natural reaction to stick out an arm and block the ball. My first reaction when it hit him was to look at the ref in hope that he wouldn't give the penalty more than in expectation.

As it was, we managed to be the dominant side during the game but ended up squandering the advantage and falling behind late on before, from a Corner of the Sky, Batth said "I'll Be There" and rescued a point to leave us in fourth spot in the table. Lots of teams Wanna Be Where We Are at the moment and, as a Wolves fan watching this side, you can't help but Enjoy Yourself.

Natalie Wood

What's your verdict on the match? We dominated pretty much the whole game and going forward we were a constant threat.

The penalty against us seemed very, very harsh and from where we were sitting – couldn't see how it was intentional at all! From where I sit I couldn't see our penalty shout so can't really comment on that but sometimes the players reactions are enough! After their penalty decision the referee just lost control of the game, which was frustrating but to be honest made it quite exciting to watch.

We could have and really should have won the game. We created so many chances (not a line said very often last year!) and should have scored at least one of them. Cav's one on one with the keeper probably should have been one of them.

Our only weakness, which seems to be coming up quite regularly, is our defending against set pieces. We need to improve on this otherwise we will keep getting punished. The substitutions were needed as you could see the players getting very tired. Bright Enobakhare just kept doing too much, he needs to stop trying to beat a man three times and just get a cross in.

Overall though it was just a great game of football. It was a great team performance especially going forward. What I really loved was watching the passion from the players and from the bench, especially when we scored the third, you can really see that this group want to succeed for the club and there is a real sense of unity.

Who played well – and who didn't impress? Cavaleiro was brilliant, he put in some excellent crosses and was a real key player during the match. You could argue that he didn't get back enough and left us a bit open down that side but I think it would be harsh, he really worked his socks off!

Clive Smith

What's your verdict on the match? Wow, that's entertainment. Where do you start – at the end where we are losing with half a dozen minutes left, or by the 40th minute where we looked in charge. Or then again, after 55 minutes, 2-1 up and looking likely to score again.

I thought we had tried to shake off our rollercoaster image. This game was very much like the 4-4 with Fulham last season. Momentum swings both ways.

The introduction of N'Diaye and Cav gave us a stronger looking line up. For much of the first half we played some lovely football. Our forward thinking passing and high tempo was, like Saturday, pleasing to watch.

The now trademark diagonal passes kept Doherty and Vinagre on their toes. The running off the ball was impressive and when things did not quite come off it was usually because the accuracy was not there rather than poor play by us. There were misplaced passes of course, but generally we looked on our game.

A fine through ball in the channel into the box saw N'Diaye chase, collect, look up, and find his man with his cross. Jota's attempt was turned in by Bonatini. Found our fox in the box?

Bristol City had not turned up just to watch us however. They had some nice play of their own in our half. Although we missed several chances through Miranda, Jota and Neves it was them who scored next. A corner was not cleared and they equalised just before half time. It was hugely disappointing to go in level.

Another pleasing aspect of the half was how well we played without the ball. We tackled well, making it difficult for Bristol to keep the ball. If the first Wolves man did not get the ball, he was quickly supported by another who often did. That is an aspect of our game that has stepped up this season. We are getting in more tackles and generating more turnovers in possession.

There was no let up in the rain or our fast flowing football when we started after the interval. Cav had stepped up a gear and was beating his man left and right. His trickery brought him a couple of chances before his corner saw Bonatini with the trademark near post Dave Edwards flick. Jota tapped in - another close range goal. It looked then that another goal could well see the floodgates open.

It was not to be however. Whatever the ref had in his half time tea must have left a bitter taste. He decided to not be our friend at all. Even an excited neutral would have thought the penalty decision harsh. Or wrong. The perfectly positioned linesman had already moved ready for the corner when the ref excitedly pointed to the spot. 2-2 and our bubble was well and truly burst.

Although we continued to look the better side our play looked a bit more laboured. Some of our energy sapped and Bristol C seemed well happy with their point. As they played deeper we found it harder to find a runner in space. Neves looked a spent force and it was surprising he was not substituted earlier.

Instead with 15 minutes left we made two switches. Miranda was replaced with Saiss – it just did not work. Why was that swap made? Saiss looked out of position and made us look most insecure, for probably the first time this season our formation looked wrong. Why was Deslandes not the choice if Miranda was to go off – who is he covering for; Vinagre? Enobakhare for Cav was an obvious swap.

We continued to boss possession and look a threat in the final third. Jota had me out of my seat when his fierce shot looked to be going in the net, only for it to hit the bar. The ref continued to make annoying decisions against us - spurning the chance to even the penalty count up when a challenge in the box on Batth had little involvement with the ball.

More annoying than the ref though, Bristol took the lead. We failed to clear a corner and the ball fell nicely for a tap in. We did not have the rub of the green all night. A deflected goal, a penalty and on this goal the ball fell neatly after hitting the post. Marshall replaced Neves and his corner provided the equaliser from Batth. Phew!

In a game that provided so much passing and open play we saw five of the six goals come from set pieces.

Who played well – and who didn't impress? Ruddy was again competent throughout. Had no chance with the goals.

Vinagre and Doherty certainly saw plenty of the ball. Doherty in particular always looked like the go to guy. He had the ball played to him from all angles, with speed and at various heights. His control and touch was remarkable. Shame his effort was ruled out for offside, it was a real classy move and a neat finish. My man of the match.

The work rate from both wing-backs was excellent. Give them today off Nuno.

Batth, Miranda and Coady had their work cut out at times. Against a tall guy and a tricky ball player they all performed well. Miranda managed to get further forward than usual and came close to scoring. Coady got away with a couple of poor headed clearances but looked solid on the ground. Another fine game by Batth, with a typical scoring header.

N'Diaye and Neves started the game well. N'Diaye in particular looks an excellent acquisition. Neves kept it simple but failed to offer much of a goal threat. Surely his free kicks needed to make the keeper make a save on this sort of surface.

Jota again looked a class act – and again he was clattered by the opposition. He looked tired near the end and failed to get goal side when we lost possession.

Bonatini was busy on and off the ball. Looks to have goals in him. Cav played a typical Cav game but with more energy than usual. Occasionally he tried a little too hard and did a little too much, but when he lifts his head he has a good pass in him. One of his best games for us.

From the bench Enobakhare very much carried on where Cav left off. Saiss just looked in the wrong position and I held my breath every time he went into a challenge. Marshall only had a brief five minutes.

Tim Spiers

By Tim Spiers
@tim_spiers_Star

Writes about Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club for a living

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