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95/96: Reports:

Endsleigh League Division 1, 30/3/96
Wolves 3(2)
Watford 0(0)
Team: Miller 2, Bazeley 2, Ludden 3, Hessenthaler 2, Page 3, Millen 3, *Dixon 3*, Palmer 2, Ramage 2, Porter 1, Moralee 3
Subs: J White, Connolly (for Moralee) 2, D White (for Connolly) 2
Only ourselves to blame
Report by Ian Grant

Well, that's your lot, folks. This defeat, coupled with wins for other struggling sides, leaves us ten points adrift of safety - in fact, there are now three clubs (us, Luton and Oldham) marooned in the relegation zone. There's no way out of this now - we just have to hope that we can get through the remaining games with a little pride.

The scoreline doesn't tell the whole story. For twenty minutes at the start, we were easily the best side and had chances to take the lead - we didn't take them and paid the price. Within the first ten minutes, we'd come close to scoring - a Ramage free kick was comfortably tipped over by the Wolves keeper, then Moralee got on the end of a Dixon cross but the ball was smothered and eventually cleared.

We gained encouragement from those openings and pressed forward with conviction, looking for the head of Dixon who battled forcefully throughout and deserves recognition for that. Palmer thumped a drive inches wide before we created the golden opportunity we were looking for. Palmer's cross found Gary Porter stealing in at the far post, completely unmarked, but he chose to head the ball back across the goal and it went wide. He should have scored.

By that time, there were already danger signs at the other end as Wolves began to get their act together. Goodman put a half-chance wide, then our afternoon took a turn for the worse on 33 minutes as Froggatt skipped past Bazeley's half-hearted tackle and hit a low drive that Miller got a hand to but couldn't keep out. That signalled the beginning of the end but we weren't quite finished and came close to a spectacular and immediate reply - Dixon flicked the ball up and crashed in a volley from outside the box that just missed the target. That would've been the goal of the season and, at least, proves that he's not just an elderly carthorse.

In truth, Wolves created little for their front pair and the blame for the result doesn't lie with Millen and Page who competed well in the centre of defence. Only Dominic Ludden put up any real resistance on the flanks and crosses came in thick and fast, but we dealt with that threat effectively. What we didn't do was close people down in midfield, particularly around the box, and that was how the second goal came. Osborn had acres of space when he picked the ball up and enough time to pick his spot - the shot was superb, leaving Miller helpless.

There was still time for Wolves to come close to a third - a goalline melee that we somehow managed to survive. By now, our attacking threat had all but disappeared - the only chance of a goal in the latter part of the half came when a penalty appeal was turned down after Ramage was up-ended by the keeper (trouble is, Ramage dives so much that you can't tell whether he's been fouled or not).

The second half was dreadful. David Connolly came on at the interval, had a nightmare and made way for Devon White who didn't do any better. For half an hour, Wolves were all over us - we couldn't string two passes together and hardly made it as far as the half-way line. Any thoughts of a West Brom-style comeback were totally ill-founded - it took about two minutes of the half for Corica to trick his way into the box and hit the bar with only Miller to beat. A few minutes later, the ball came out to Osborn, again totally alone on the edge of the box, and he blasted it past Miller.

We got forward a little more towards the end as Wolves settled for the result but it was unconvincing stuff - tentative moves that fell apart as soon as we got within sight of goal. Devon White had a couple of tame headers, that was it. Only a healthy dose of gallows humour (I can't remember being applauded by opposition fans before) saved us from complete depression. Wolves could have added more - Miller had to be at his best to prevent Osborn from claiming a hat-trick with a low shot from a tight angle.

So our fragile confidence has taken a gigantic knock. We have to hold it together, as much for next season as anything else, but with leaders Sunderland and Portsmouth's bloody offside trap to come, that's going to be difficult. Missed chances and naive defending lost us this game - we've no-one to blame but ourselves. That applies to Hessenthaler and Palmer in particular, who should have tracked and closed down Osborn instead of ball-watching.

We lost heavily to an average side. There are lessons to be learned from this game - the fans, loyal to the end, deserve better.

Bright start isn't rewarded
Report by Kate Holmes

Transfer deadline day came and went without any activity for us. Scum signed Kim Grant, and Paul Wilkinson on loan. It is very depressing to find that even with a crippling injury list we couldn't get someone new in. It makes you think that maybe we have already given up hope of surviving this season, and are looking to prepare ourselves for next season in the horrible depths of Division Two.

We headed off for Wolves without Fos and Tommy "Don't mention Dead Ants" Mooney and, having heard nothing about Robert Page's appeal, we presumed he was missing as well. The first we knew about his "success" was when he came out to warm up.

Wolves have dramatically changed their ground, and have two gigantic TV screens in opposite corners. Their fans were sitting about five seats away from us and, remembering the West Brom game, this doesn't fill anyone with confidence. For the entire match, we were subjected to all sorts of verbal abuse by fans with stupid accents. As soon as one Watford fan said something in reply, the stewards threatened to eject him. Same old story.

We started the game with Page and Millen at the back, with Ludden on the left. Other than that, we had Dixon starting, with Ramage pushed back into midfield. There was a bit of abuse thrown at Graham Taylor, but the vast majority of Wolves fans gave him a good reception, somewhat surprisingly.

We were shooting the wrong way, and in our away kit. I could say that our away kit is unlucky as we haven't won wearing it, but haven't won many wearing our gold shirts. We actually started quite well, and created several chances to go ahead. Palmer had a couple of shots that went wide, and the keeper had to tip another shot over the bar. Porter had a glorious chance with a header at the far post following a corner, but he managed to miss the target. All he had to do was aim for the goal and it would have gone in.

Needless to say, as soon as Wolves managed their first attack of note, they scored. We are very prone to counter-attacks, and Wolves are quick to break. We responded well to this, and came back at them. Ramage won a race for the ball with their keeper, who made sure he brought Rams down inside the area. This was as much a penalty as the Derby one wasn't, but the ref didn't give it. You know it isn't going to be your day when that happens.

Not long after that, they scored their second, with what was probably only their second shot at goal. We didn't close their player down, and he hit a stunning shot past Kev. 2-0 down at halftime, and constant action replays of their goals. They did provide coverage of the Grand National at halftime, and my horse won so at least it wasn't all doom and gloom for me.

We replaced Jamie Moralee at halftime with David Connolly - the shock of being a father (allegedly) too much for him. We went further behind during the dreaded ten minutes, but this was not going to be another West Brom. The rest of the game was played out with us lot deciding to party. Every pass was celebrated, and when we managed to win a corner, half the fans at the front went barmy, much to the amazement of the Wolves fans. They could not work us out. Every time they sang "You're going down with the Albion", we responded with "We're going down with the Luton". The scoreboard went through a fruit-machine routine to put up the attendance, only to be greeted with a chant of "Is that all you get at home" and "Shit ground, no fans". We certainly managed to shut them up, which was not much of an achievement. An attendance of over 25,000 and they were pretty quiet.

I think our day was summed up when Connolly had to be substituted through injury. I didn't take too much notice of the rest of the game, and the scorelines at the end were even more depressing, except for Scum losing. If we're going down, let's bring them with us.

As I was leaving the ground, a steward started laughing at me and said, "That's what you get when Taylor's your manager". I hate mouthy stewards. People like that are usually the cause of trouble at football. Still, it's safe to pick on a small female, I suppose. We may as well prepare ourselves for trips to Wrexham, Rotherham, York and Barnet - that should be good for a laugh!