Despite the M25, another 3-1 win...
By Paul Perkins
Three fit centre backs and all was set fair to meet the boys from the Black Country.
My lucky yellow jacket, sported proudly on these occasions, also saw to the Wolves line up missing strikers Carl Cort and George Ndah in addition to the long term injury victim, Paul Ince. Also absent was the suspended Vio Ganea.
The replacements included the on-loan signing from Spurs, Tom Huddlestone. He was sporting exactly the same haircut that I remember from 10 years ago. The Spurs connections continued with Keith Burkinshaw sitting to my right, Glenn Hoddle sitting on the Wolves bench and Darren Anderton joining Huddlestone in the starting line up.
The match began promisingly with an Ashley Young shot being cleared off the line. Wolves' Oakes had to be alert again when he turned aside a Henderson header from a cross by Doyley.
That was most of what we had to offer as Wolves went on to dominate the first half. They overran us in midfield with Kennedy and Huddlestone controlling the match. After five minutes an Edwards effort was cleared off the line by Matthew Spring. Then Craddock headed wide from the resulting corner.
Gyepes, an on-loan defender from Ferencvaros, was cautioned for obstructing Ashley Young on 13 minutes. Shortly afterwards there was a glimmer of hope when Gavin Mahon hit an inch perfect 30 yard pass to find Lloyd Doyley. Sadly, the latter's dispatch was not as good as the delivery.
A Huddlestone beamer to Miller forced the first of four excellent first half saves from Ben Foster when he turned aside a close range effort. The second stop came just three minutes later when he parried another excellent low range shot, this time from Clarke.
Jay DeMerit - not helped by a mute Doyley - panicked a header to let in Naylor. His pass to Clarke saw a shot pulled wide. Then, on the half hour mark, Kenny Miller slipped his marker too easily and thumped a screamer on to the post. Foster who, on this occasion had got nowhere near, had earned his luck (though I think my yellow jacket may have had an influence on the proceedings).
A great run by the Wolves defender Edwards found him centring into Miller's stride but Foster, first to it, ended up finger-tipping Anderton's shot away.
It was not entirely one way, however: a counter attack saw Matthew Spring heading wide from a Doyley centre.
Foster's final heroics of the half found him clutching a Miller header from another excellent Huddlestone cross.
0-0 at half time.
To begin with it was more of the same: Wolves were coming at us and Clarke continued to be a handful for Doyley. Wolves had brought on Ross and he immediately went to right back with Edwards pushing up into midfield to replace the departed Gyepes.
The tide began to turn in the 54th minute when Marlon King made the most of a defensive mistake to go one on one with the Wolves goalie. His shot was spilled by Oakes who was quick enough to pick it up from the sliding boot of the incoming Spring. King would have been better to lay it off to Young who was ready for the short square pass.
Most of the home team seemed to raise their game in the second half, although Devlin was still below par and received the wrath of many around me in the East Stand. The criticism may have been justified as he seemed to come off second best in most tackles and to shirk the 50/50's. Devlin was also booked for a foul on Naylor, thus adding the away fans to his critics.
The game seemed to be going more and more our way when Huddlestone conceded a free kick just outside the penalty box. This time Young's free kick sailed over the bar.
After 66 minutes MacNamee came on for Henderson. This lifted the crowd and raised the pace of the match. Within two minutes an Ashley Young corner was met by Jay DeMerit. His sweet header rocketed into the goal just like his equally majestic effort at Ipswich; only this time it was sealed by the referee's approval.
Eight minutes later DeMerit found Young in midfield. The ball was moved swiftly on to Marlon King who, rather than cross it into the six yard box, shot from a ridiculously acute angle. Fortune favoured the brave and the foolhardy on this occasion and it was 2-0 to us.
Hoddle decided it was time to change things again and Anderton was replaced by Seol, who went up front.
A losing team pushing forward is so often undone in its desperation; and so it was that a rapid fire Hornets attack led to a lethal Ashley Young corner on 80 minutes. His cross was flicked on at the near post by King and was met by Paul Devlin who, loitering with intent on the goal line, scored with the outside of his boot. The jury may be out on whether the goal needed that touch but who was arguing at 3-0?
There were two more substitutions before the end of the match. One was forced by a serious looking injury to Miller; it was caused either by an innocuous challenge or he just pulled up lame. Olofinjana replaced him and soon got into the match by heading spectacularly wide from a Naylor corner.
Watford's substitution riposte was to take off Paul Devlin and give Al Bangura another run out. Rather than boos, Devlin got a standing ovation from some of the more fickle around me.
Wolves scored a sloppy consolation in the third minute of injury time. Chambers and Carlisle took a nap for a couple of seconds and allowed a tame pass into the box for Seol to prod home. Still, my yellow jacket made it through the 90 minutes relatively unscathed and could be proud of the luck it had brought in the first half. With a little help from Ben Foster, perhaps.
So another 3-1 (our fourth of the season) and a match which, with the Leeds and Palace results going in our favour, sees us pushing up to fourth.