Nuno Espirito Santo can probably walk on water, in fact, I’d be surprised if he couldn’t because our game on Saturday against Bristol City was something else. Do you want to know the best thing about it all? He did it whilst being sat in the director’s box after getting sent off for the second time this season after Batth got given his marching orders. The red card itself is up for debate, because, for me, he got the ball and it wasn’t even foul, let alone a cardable offence, but Peter Bankes seemingly has something against us as it was the second time this season he had given a red card against us and he has only been our referee twice.
Old habits die hard
I missed the opening exchanges of the Wolves game as I was at Halesowen vs Buxton where I was met with a familiar face in the Buxton goal that some Wolves fans will remember and others will wonder who on earth I am going on about. I am talking about none other than Jan Budtz who played for us four times some ten years ago, but believe me if you saw him play, you never forget about the Danish Danger. He was in goal against Crystal Palace towards the back end of the 06/07 season and I don’t remember a great deal about the game considering how long ago it was, apart from Budtz’ ongoing feud with Shefki Kuqi which was nothing short of outrageous. In the end, that game finished 2-2 and I’m sure, without looking at the highlights, that Budtz was probably at fault for both of their goals.
True to form, the first shot Budtz faced, he spilt which led to the Buxton fans sat next to me to name him butterfingers, which was a name that had been following Jan around for a long, long time. His first kick of the game didn’t ever reach the halfway line. One thing that I am still trying to work out though, is why he was even playing in the first place because he got sent off the game before, so unless suspensions don’t apply in the Northern Premier League, Budtz just must not care about the rules.
Luckily for Buxton, he didn’t have a great deal to do, apart from one shot which had a hint of venom behind it, Budtz tried to kick that, but it was like he had his laces tied together as the ball went underneath him. At this point though, Buxton had already raced into a three-goal lead in little over half an hour, so there was no real danger of even Budtz managing to mess this up. To be fair to him, his kicking improved a lot as the game went on.
A red card challenge?
I missed the red card by the finest of margins but I was getting several messages, some saying that it was a red card, some saying he won the ball and some saying if it was their player you’d want a red, so there wasn’t any consistency coming from anywhere at all, so I thought I would make my own mind up. When they showed it at halftime, I presumed that Batth must have retaliated in some way shape or form because it couldn’t have been for that tackle, but then, when I saw who the ref was, it started to make sense. If you haven’t seen the tackle, watch it, because everyone has a differing opinion. In mine, he won the ball and that was that. It is a contact sport, after all.
Dig in deep
The first bit of action that I saw was Barry Douglas’ free-kick cannon off the post, but then after that, it was just the same as every other week, attack vs defence, except this time around, we were on the defensive side. The commentators said that they struggled to create any chances and they had more luck against the eleven than they did the ten men. One you have to feel sorry for is Leo Bonatini who was sacrificed after Batth got sent off for Ryan Bennett which left Costa and Jota running around like a pair of headless chickens up top trying to keep hold of the ball, with only really the support of each other.
We got to halftime unscathed, though and if we could hold on for another forty-five minutes, in the circumstances, I would take a point. City decided to utilise their extra man by putting their brute of a centre-half, Aden Flint, up top to try and trouble our back line. It wasn’t much of a game to watch as we were just defending for our lives whilst offering very little going forward as Helder Costa and Diogo Jota were often found isolated without the usual support from Doherty and Douglas who were preoccupied with wave after wave of City attack.
Not even ten minutes had gone by in the second half before Bristol City found a way through and we were the masters of our own downfall as Douglas didn’t have anyone to pass to and lost the ball just over the halfway line and we were undone by the sheer pace of Bristol City’s counter-attack which saw our normal ever so reliable back three drawn out of position which ended up with the prolific Bobby Reid sending the home fans delirious. After watching the replay, deflection or no deflection, Ruddy has to be doing better with the shot as it just crept under him and that was the second game in succession where the finger can be pointed at him. Never mind, we move on.
Costa was withdrawn for fellow countryman Ivan Cavaleiro around the hour mark as Helder was still struggling to replicate his form from last season and it was the obvious sub to make, but even still, the impact was almost instant. Cavaleiro picked the ball up centrally before sliding a ball perfectly to the onrushing Matt Doherty who was being a little more adventurous now we were 1-0 down, who touched it past Frank Fielding, who was in the middle of nowhere. Fielding didn’t have a chance to recover so he just took Doherty out. Red card. Game on.
Barry’s left peg
After Paterson was withdrawn for City’s sub keeper, Steele, Douglas had been readying himself for the freekick which was a little bit further out than the one in the first half. The whistle was blown so Douglas could take. GOOOOOOAL! Barry was at it again and Steele’s first job in the Bristol City goal was picking the ball out the back of his net. We had the momentum now, it was ours to lose.
Minutes later Saiss could have given us the lead but Steele was off his line fast enough to prevent the Moroccan from getting a clear shot at goal. Saiss was again involved as we were awarded a last-ditch freekick; he fought for a ball that wasn’t even there to be won, yet he won the ball back before being felled on the edge of the box on the right-hand side. It was Barry o’clock again as he waiting for the referee’s whistle. The whistle went, it was whipped into the far post and who was there to meet it? Ryan Bennett!! GOOOOOALLLLLL!!!! 90 plus four!!!! 2-1 to Wolves. Nuno was celebrating like every other Wolves fan, the only difference was, he was doing it in front of the Bristol City directors and the chief executive of the Premier League. May as well give them a taste of what to come.
So that was that, from nowhere, we had snatched all three points to put us eleven clear of third and ten of Derby in second. Next up is Brentford at home, who we struggled against at Griffin Park due to their small pitch, however, you have a feeling it will be slightly different at Molineux.