Wolves Fans' Verdict v Leeds: Normal service resumed

By Tim Spiers | Wolves | Published:

Our fans are beaming after a big Wolves win at Leeds.

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

Rob Cartwright

What's your verdict on the match? As you were!

This was just what was needed. As Nuno had promised, Wolves bossed this game from start to finish; admittedly against a poor Leeds team.

No wonder the Leeds owner is grumbling. How he can assemble a team so inadequately prepared for the Championship and then charge so much to watch it. The Leeds fanbase showed what they think of it too, as they waved their ‘white flags’ in surrender and bowed out of the 'Attendance Cup'!

Wolves controlled the game. It was especially good to see N’Diaye and Saiss step up the pace in the middle of the park. We didn’t miss Neves but I hope he is ready to be unleashed again on Saturday. We used both wing backs to full effect to and both Leeds fullbacks had a torrid night of it.

We were disappointed at only being 2-0 up at the break. We were creating chance after chance and the young Leeds goalkeeper was easily their man of the match. If it had been 4-0 or 5-0 at half time it would not have flattered Wolves.

Leeds' fans knew it too. They were intent on keeping the ball on 43 minutes.

One minute later, it was game over, with a Batth header hitting the bar followed up by Boly. The Leeds defence looked up to our Willy and decided it best not to challenge him. Sensible.


The back three had a comfortable night. Batth slotted back in, as though he hadn’t been away. Boly and Coady were excellent too with exemplary distribution of the ball.

We continued to create chances in the second half. 18 shots in total, though we waited until 74 minutes for the third. It was worth the wait, as Afobe latched onto his favourite ball over the top, a couple of minutes after coming on. His first goal since returning was celebrated by players and fans alike. We played out the last 16 minutes, conserving energy for the next two games coming up fast.

Overall, a really pleasing performance. Roll on Saturday - just can’t wait for that one.

Who played well – and who didn't impress? Saiss is a much better player without the blonde hair! I can only think this is what was to blame for our recent “crisis”.


Boly was head and shoulders above any other player both on the pitch, both in stature and performance. Leeds would not score while he was on the pitch.

Douglas and Doherty were back to their best on the wings, being given plenty of the ball. The passing both from midfield and defence was excellent.

Jota, Cavaleiro and Bonatini all did well creating chances and havoc in Leeds defence, without being stars on the night. Jota and Bonatini both should have scored though.

Afobe had a good 25 minutes. Wolves changed tactics to suit him and he enjoyed this cameo and deserved his goal.

Man of the match was Willy Boly.

Russ Cockburn

What's your verdict on the match? Leeds, forget being torn apart…you were blown apart by a whirlwind of gold and black footballing artistry last night.

Nuno and his merry band of men delivered a much-needed ‘statement’ win that saw us produce some of our best football of the season.

The result – played out live on Sky – will have shown the division why we are six points clear and would have given a lot of Wolves fans a welcome boost…let’s face it most of our supporters’ collective bums have been twitching more than a RSPB get together!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the team has got a lot more bottle than we have. In true style we bounced back from a defeat with a really strong performance that could have produced at least five goals by the break.

Despite Jota missing a sitter and Bonatini being thwarted by the young Leeds keeper, we still managed to register two goals with Boly and Saiss both scoring from fantastic deliveries by Barry Douglas. The Moroccan midfielder had a much better game last night, surely in keeping with the fact his ‘barnet’ is now back to a more natural colour!

Two up hasn’t always been our favourite scoreline of late, but we didn’t have to worry. Whilst Dirty Leeds tried to rouse their rabble with some scarf swinging, our artisans kept the ball, probed and continued to cut through the Yorkshire team’s defence time after time.

Their fans took solace in counting empty seats in their pursuit of the 'Attendance Cup', one of the few trophies the Elland Road club are still in contention for.

So the defining moment of the second half? Easy, Afobe’s goal…just what he needed, no time to think, just pace, aggression and a first time effort that left the goalkeeper more isolated than Bolton’s ground.

This is just what Benik needed and we could well see the striker of old in future games, probably a good thing with Leo seeming to lack confidence in front of goal.

Our performance was that good it nearly made the Leeds Chairman cry, with the Italian getting his meatballs in a twist about Mendes and an unfair playing field.

Who played well – and who didn't impress? Big Willy throbbed all evening, rock hard at the back and an instigator of many attacks, his performance climaxing with a headed goal on the stroke of half time.

There were a lot of good performance from Doherty, Douglas, N’Diaye and Jota, but a special mention must go to Danny Batth. Brierley Hill’s favourite son fitted in seamlessly and dealt with the physicality of the Leeds strikers with ease, gaining a valuable assist to go with it.

Whilst he’s been out of the team, his attitude has been fantastic and he seems a really positive character to have in and around the club.

Clive Smith

What's your verdict on the match? Normal service is resumed then...the snow has gone. As for Wolves, 14 points from the last seven games, we remain on target. Those non-believers who have been muttering ' wim gunna blow it ay we', let's just ignore them, eh! Nothing to see here, move along.

Let's face it, we were brilliant last night. Vintage Wolves. Well, vintage Nuno Wolves to be precise. Right from the off the tempo was quicker, passing crisper, more diagonal passes and threatening to score at any moment. Pinch yourself, this is our team I am talking about. We were good with and without the ball. Neves was not missed at all, will he ever get his place back? Maybe it's a generation thing, but to beat Dirty Leeds 4-1 and 3-0 is a delight.

Their keeper was annoyingly their best player, making several saves after we had carved Leeds open. Ironic then, that for all of our creativity in open play it was two corners that provided the 2-0 lead at the break. We curse when we concede from a set piece so let's rejoice when we manage it. It is rare for us to dominate in the air inside our opponents box, but Saiss, Batth and then Boly all made telling headers to score twice and hit the bar.

Hitting the bar seemed the best option for their fans. Good to see them waving their white scarves in surrender early in the second half. Perhaps they should incorporate that in their new club badge. Leeds were poor frankly, lacking a strong spine that we are used to seeing in them.

As usual keeping a clean sheet became the priority and Leeds looked like they had received a stern half time talking. Although they saw a bit more of the ball we still looked the most likely to score. 3-4-3 became 5-2-3 but somehow, once we got possession, Doherty and Douglas were well forward hugging the touchline and available as an outlet.

Bonatini and Jota missed their opportunity's before Afobe broke his duck to wrap the game up. The only complaint would be the number of chances we missed to score more, but three goals away from home is a good night's work.

Who played well – and who didn't impress? Hard to pick fault with anyone really, we were so much the better team.

Ruddy virtually had the night off.

Doherty and Douglas were at their best. A constant stream of diagonal passes were controlled and generally put to good use. Both made it into the box aiming to get on the scoresheet.

Coady, Boly and Batth also looked solid. The Bennett for Batth change was seamless. Boly was at the heart of so much. He must have thought he was some Portuguese midfield wonder kid sprayed the ball about all the time. Have you ever seen a defender pass the ball so accurately over such a distance, so often? He even found time to look unbeatable in defence, my man of the match. Signing him would be more significant than our capture of Jota.

Saiss looked back to the form he was showing a month ago, before his injury. He looked fit again, busy chasing down the ball and recycling it efficiently. Clinical finish too with his head.

N'Diaye also put in a decent shift. He looked more effective when we were tackling and trying to win the ball back. Hard to drop him after that performance.

With Boly in particular firing 50 yards cross field passes, the ball often by-passed midfield as we went box to box much quicker. Given their manager had played us twice already this season, it was surprising they looked powerless to stop us.

Jota looked fresher than recent games. He had a goal threat in him and was unlucky not to score.

Bonatini, better, but still slightly out of sorts. Needs to score to get his confidence in front of goal back.

A typical Cavaleiro game. Strong in possession but also some delicate touches. Worked hard without the ball too.

From the bench Afobe got a typical Afobe goal from a neat through ball. Glad the monkey is now off his back.

Russ Evers (Hatherton Wolves)

What's your verdict on the match? Mind the gap! Must be a choker for all of the pathetic and ridiculous supposed fans on social media who have been so full of doom and gloom as we utterly destroyed an appalling Leeds side last night.

Just the £42 to pay on the gate despite the game being televised but an even bigger travesty was the scoreline as we should have been 4-0 and could have been 6-0 up at the break.

Great to see Afobe back in the scoresheet with a wonderful second half finish.

This was the real Wolves back to what we know. Passing and controlling and then incisive and fast forward movement.

Oh how I detest Leeds and this result and performance is all the sweeter for it.

Who played well – and who didn't impress? Boly, N'Diaye and Cavaleiro battled each other for man of the match even above Mr Composure himself Conor Coady.

Chris Hughes

What's your verdict on the match? Normal service resumed.

After a few below-par performances and the three teams below us being on pretty incredible runs there was a quite considerable amount of pant-wetting going on among the fan base over the closing of the gap to 2nd and 3rd place prior to this game. The phrases “must win” and “key game” were thrown about as well as some references to THAT season in 2002.

How did Nuno and the team respond to the nerves and negativity creeping into the fan base? They went back to basics and completely schooled Leeds in the art of passing football.

Make no mistake, the 3-0 scoreline flattered Leeds in a game where we could have hit ten. A confident Bonatini could have bagged four for himself while Jota managed to tread on the ball from an inviting cross when scoring looked easier and also rattled the cross bar with a thumping effort. With the back three effortlessly negotiating everything Leeds threw in their direction, led by the imperious Boly, it was only our finishing that stopped this being described as a ‘complete’ performance.

As many of us predicted, the smaller allocation of 1,400 followers were more vocal and excitable than the 5,600 that had made the last trip north to visit Preston. Old favourites, recent additions and some brand new, Jorge Mendes-related, songs were offered up from the visiting section throughout the evening as the team were roared on.

We thought we’d come to the wrong ground when we saw the empty seats everywhere. Just 25,000 home fans last night won’t help Leeds in their quest for the Championship Attendance Trophy. By full-time that number was down to more like 12,000 as plenty of Leeds fans decided to go Marching OUT Together in frustration at the on-field embarrassment they’d suffered at our hands.

The evening was capped off by seeing the grievances put forward on Twitter from the Leeds fans about our spending, with even the club’s owner having a whinge about our ‘unfair advantage’. I’m sure our singing about Mendes really went down well with him.

So now to negotiate two days at work trying to concentrate on the day jobs instead of excitedly looking forward to a visit to Villa Park on Saturday where we’ll be looking to put the seals in their place once and for all this season. It would be nice if Bruce and Doctor Tone are whinging on Saturday night like the Leeds chairman was last night!

Who played well – and who didn't impress? Every one of the 14 players used last night made an impact. Even Gibbs-White found time in his cameo to make his full-back look daft a couple of times.

Standout mentions go to Boly, who was untouchable all night and even left a Leeds player absolutely flat out on his back with a beautiful turn, N’Diaye, who bossed the midfield and steamed through challenges like a tank, Cavaleiro and Jota, who ran the full-backs ragged all night, and Doherty for his immense work-rate in support of Cav all evening.

While it was one of those nights again for poor Leo in front of goal, his hold up play was excellent at times and helped us to build our attacks well.

It was great to see Benik get his first goal since returning. I’m hoping that gives him the confidence boost to take John Terry & Co. to the cleaners on Saturday night.

Adam Virgo

What's your verdict on the match? Both times we’ve played against Leeds now, we’ve torn them apart and made it look so easy. The players reacted brilliantly to some criticism from recent weeks and once again we bounce back from a defeat with a win, the Nuno effect.

From start to finish we controlled the game magnificently, maybe the mini break we’ve had helped as the players looked fresh and meaningful. The scoreline flattered Leeds, we could have easily scored 6 especially with some of the chances we created in the first half. Thankfully we got a 2-0 cushion and the missed chances didn’t come back to bite us.

Leeds were really poor defensively and we exploited that very well, our wing backs being able to get forward a lot more gave us more attacking options. We were then able to find space and have extra men over their defence, especially when N’diaye got forward too.

Any nerves beforehand have surely been settled now after that performance. Form is temporary and class is permanent and last night our class really shone. We’re in the position we are for a reason and nights like last night is what we’ve been used to for the majority of this season.

You know you’ve hurt the opposition when their owner has to come out on Twitter and complain about how Wolves is run. Maybe he should learn a thing or two from our owners and managing director, starting with a bit of class and respect. There’s plenty of clubs above them with less money so the points he made don’t add up whatsoever.

Who played well – and who didn't impress? Everyone played well but the two players who impressed me the most were N’Diaye and Boly.

Starting with big Alf, I remember back on transfer deadline day in the summer, some people were unsure on him but his performances this season have proven that he’s more than capable to deal with the demands of this league.

His power and prowess would be able to suit the Premier League also and for how we are set up, he’s able to put himself about, protect the ball when he has it and any physical battle he’s involved in, he always comes out on top. The Senegalese midfielder won 100 per cent of his aerial duels last night which goes to show how much of a beast he is and he’s showing exactly why he should be starting games.

Willy Boly is the best centre back in the Championship and we have to sign him at the end of the season. I believe it’s around £10m from what I’ve seen and that is a bargain for the current market. He has so many important attributes and to say he’s 6’5” he is very mobile, with and without the ball.

He even put Stuart Dallas on his backside, he just lay there on the floor for a few seconds realising he had been destroyed. Defensively, he’s like a brick wall, nothing gets through or past him. Towered above everyone for his goal, no one could match him aerially.

Isn’t it funny how Saiss scrapped his blonde hair and played well last night. His goal was easy considering how much space he had and how good the ball was from Douglas, who’s proved that his left foot is a wand but it was still a good finish. If Neves is to start on Saturday then Nuno will have a huge call to make of who to drop from the midfield pairing last night.

All of the starting front three had a good game in general and in terms of linking up but neither of them had their best games in front of goal. All of them spurned at least one god chance, Jota and Bonatini missing the best ones. Jota seems to love missing an open goal recently, I make that 3/4 this season now. It was as if Doherty spoon fed him and he just spat it out.

Bonatini seems to be lacking hugely in confidence in front of goal, didn’t look comfortable taking on his opportunities. Jota was very unlucky with his strike that hit the bar, did so well to create the chance for himself and he didn’t half hit it with venom. He caused problems for the Leeds defence all evening.

Great to see Afobe back on the scoresheet for us again. The finish was fantastic and he showed terrific pace to beat the defender. It’s easy to panic when the keeper comes rushing out but he stayed calm and to finish it how he did took some serious skill.

Bonatini is more about link up and coming deeper to get the ball whereas Afobe is willing to run in behind and stretch the opponent. It’s great that we have two forwards who play different sorts of roles. Afobe took his chance well and that’ll be another headache selection problem for Nuno, but a positive problem by all means.

Tim Spiers

By Tim Spiers

Writes about Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club for a living


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