Quite a day; past and present, treasured long ago memories and the here and now blending beautifully to make Saturday a special day. A day for this generation of Wolves’ fans and a day for nostalgia for us seniors as one of our very finest was remembered. It was a privilege to be in attendance at St.Peter’s church prior to kick-off to salute Ron Flowers; to celebrate his towering contribution to both club and country and to appreciate the innate modesty and humility of a colossus of a player.
It was a sad, essentially respectful service but not without one injection of humour that Ron would no doubt have appreciated. The Reverend David Wright presiding at the service related the delightful story of Flowers discarding one of his England blazers which he had found slightly uncomfortable.
The beneficiary was a charity shop which Flowers visited a while later. Remarkably he saw the self-same blazer for sale, reckoned he had regained his affection for the garment and duly purchased it! A great player who received a thunderous Molineux tribute before the game a couple of hours later.
The West Ham supporters contributed most graciously and my mind slipped back to Upton Park in 1993 when the tribute to the great Bobby Moore coincided with a visit from Wolves. I like to think that we displayed the same respect for Ron Flowers’ England colleague as The Hammers fans showed to us. It was a moving afternoon and Wolves rose splendidly to the occasion to do Ron Flowers proud.
West Ham are an outstanding team; meticulously organized, sharp, stylish, street-wise and brimming with menacing intent and self-confidence. But Wolves did a number on them; took the game to them, unsettled them and finally put them to the sword. To go in all square at the interval after dominating the last twenty minutes was exasperating. Memories of early season defeats despite quality performances made for similar feelings of trepidation.
Jimenez spurned a great opportunity trying to repeat his deft finish against Everton; Saiss having cleverly found space failed to connect with a header that Fabianski could not have saved and Semedo was brilliantly denied by Cresswell’s interception when the wing-back seemed certain to score. But Wolves hid any feelings of frustration and ripped into the opposition right from the restart. Podence was twice outstandingly denied by Fabianski before he linked quite superbly with both Neves and Semedo to produce the chance which Jimenez converted magnificently. Like all top strikers Jimenez has the sang froid to banish from his psyche any number of missed opportunities and simply wait to convert the next available chance. Ordinary players fluffing their lines drop their heads and hide; the best simply don’t and Jimenez is one of the best.
After that superlative and so deserved goal, West Ham took ownership of the ball, probed incessantly but found every route to goal firmly blocked by a Wolves’ outfit displaying a bristling desire and determined resolution.
Jose Sa was never seriously tested and indeed it was the excellent Max Kilman who squandered the best chance of the second half blazing over when perfectly placed. The shortcomings of the flop at Crystal Palace last time out were assuaged and categorically so. This was a tremendous performance; immensely satisfying and of genuine high quality and it was a joy to watch. This group of players for all of their foibles really can thrill you at times.
Ron Flowers did that on a regular basis; he enjoyed a career most players can only dream of but he would have approved of what his beloved Molineux served up on Saturday. It was the kind of tribute he deserved. What a player; his achievements quite phenomenal. World Champion and Wolves Champion. RIP. So glad to have seen you play.
Well there you go. A nervous first and last 10 minutes but an excellent middle 70 minute period causing us to run out as deserved winners.
Everyone played their part with Semedo celebrating his birthday with his best game in a Wolves shirt, Jimenez being back to his best on the anniversary of that horrific injury and Kilman getting even better.
Before the game most of my fellow Wolfs were saying they would have taken a point but that would have been a travesty and the game was won by a goal of the season contender including the fantastic build up and immaculate finish.
So top six and rising. Lovely.
The first half against Everton was good, but this was probably our best ninety minutes of the season. Everyone put in a shift and everyone played well. For the first time in ages Wolves looked hard to beat and good even without the ball. Despite the tension that comes with just a single goal lead it was a most enjoyable game to watch.
West Ham looked confident at the start but Wolves showed plenty of patience – more than most of us in the crowd – and gradually our passing created some good openings. Semedo was making frequent visits into the final third as MOTM Neves again looked a class act in midfield. Moutinho, Saiss and Podence all had attempts besides the one from Jimenez that disappointingly went wide.
We continued on the front foot after the break and deservedly took the lead. A sweeping move, with the sort of inch perfect passing we are not used to seeing, ended with a clever finish from Jimenez.
If anything, from then on, we played even better, winning back possession high up the pitch. Without the ball we protected our box, Antonio saw little of the ball and we also dealt well with set pieces against us.
A proper game, played in a good competitive manner, against a decent in-form team, with a good atmosphere and a pleasing result. Bruno and Wolves had done their homework and nullified the dangers that West Ham have. A vast improvement on the way we performed against them last season. An uplifting performance, particularly after we struggled so much in our last outing.
This was a wonderful day to be a Wolves fan.
The “in-form” team of the Premier League came to a raucous Molineux. I’m sure having fans back in the stadiums is giving us an extra edge again. This was, probably, our best performance of the season and we got a good insight into what Bruno Lage is trying to do with the squad.
West Ham started well and were on top for 20 minutes, or so. They only created one chance which was off target. Wolves soon got to grips and went on to dominate the game from then on. The difference is the high press. We were tackling and winning the ball high up the field, often before West Ham could get into our half. Time after time they had no way through and had to play backwards and sideways. Neves was awesome. He would go on to run the game in the second half. Moutinho was good too and he is surprising me with his high energy.
Both our wing backs kept attacking the wide areas and were able to link with Podence and Hwang who both found space between their defence and midfield.
The defence looked very solid and hardly allowed Antonio a touch of the ball. The three central defenders are all doing well and deservedly keeping Boly on the sidelines.
It was fitting that Jimenez would get the goal with the excellent Code Red being showcased at half time. It was a great move involving Semedo and Podence. It was a class finish from just outside the area.
Other chances fell to Semedo, Jimenez and a long range effort by Moutinho, in the first half. It was almost one way traffic in the second with Podence going close twice and Kilman blasting over.
All in a very good performance and a joy to watch!