Through to the last 16…just

Will Norris

It pretty much tells its own story when your keeper is easily Man of the Match. Of the 10 shots on target that he faced, some were routine saves, a tip on to the post was superb, a late save to turn a long range effort over the top was spectacular, and he rode his luck a little when saving immediately after we took the lead with the ball ricocheting off him and onto the bar. But you make your own luck. Other than that was commanding and his distribution was both quick and accurate. He’s yet to concede a goal in competitive football for us. Essentially, if any of last season’s keepers had been playing last night, we’d have lost that game. We’re lucky to have such an accomplished backup with plenty of scope to improve even further. Whisper it in certain quarters, but this might even be one where Kevin Thelwell has to take some credit.

Danny Batth

Not an entirely comfortable night for him, one particularly odd instance in the first half where he seemed preoccupied with blocking his man rather than attacking the ball and ending up allowing a free header on goal. Improved as the game went on though the surprising amount of threat that Rovers offered meant it was never a quiet night at the office for any of the centre halves.

Conor Coady

Our best outfield player last night by some distance. In fact it was the standard Coady performance that we’ve come to expect this season; swept up danger, won plenty of tackles and produced a couple of those raking long range passes. Who does he think he is, Ruben Neves? In all seriousness, it’s been an incredible transformation from where he was a year or so ago where I wouldn’t have trusted him to pass the ball five yards with any regularity (or control it less than five yards, for that matter). It’s a credit to him and the coaching staff.

Roderick Miranda

It’s hard to put my finger on exactly what it is, but something about Miranda doesn’t entirely convince at this stage. Sometimes you feel he should look to be a bit more ambitious with his passing, especially in the absence of Willy Boly…and then he presents the ball straight to the opposition 30 yards out. He generally looks ok physically and then out of nowhere will get buffeted out of the way. Don’t get me wrong, he’s not hopeless and compared to our old friend Richard Stearman…well there is no comparison. It’s just at this point, you’d have to question whether he gets in our strongest team, especially when Kortney Hause eventually returns. Did nearly score right near the end of normal time with a flick which hit the bar.

Oskar Buur

A surprise debut and the young Dane certainly didn’t let himself down. He looks more of an orthodox right back than a wing back and so although he has the engine to get up and down the flank, his play was a little conservative in the final third (though then again, as is often the case, we don’t get numbers into the box especially quickly so crossing the ball continually is fairly pointless). Only really came unstuck defensively once and there seems to be a fair amount of promise there.

Just a note here regarding the guy I was sat next to last night (I had a change of scenery to the Billy Wright Upper owing to the top tier of the North Bank being closed); it gets incredibly irritating when you make an assessment of a 19 year old kid making his debut in English football and repeat it for over two fucking hours. “He only ever passes the ball back” was the refrain…apart from all the times he didn’t. “He’s out of his depth” he whined, in his voice that sounded like a more nasal version of Bob Willis, except Buur didn’t look out of his depth. In any case, anyone is free to hold their opinion on any player. Hey, look at the amount of stick I gave the majority of our lot last season. But that’s on here. I didn’t spend 90 minutes last season shouting that Joe Mason is a lightweight nonentity every time he touched the ball. At the game, maybe try supporting the players, eh? Especially someone in his first match. Thank God I don’t have anyone like that near me in my regular seat.

Sylvain Deslandes

I was a little surprised when we announced that we’d retained the services of Deslandes towards the end of last season because after all, he couldn’t get a game for a pretty poor Bury team in League One in his loan spell there and he’s rarely shown anything in U23 fixtures to suggest he’s a serious answer. He is at least fairly powerful these days and has a physical presence which would be adequate for Championship football. What he is emphatically not is a left wing back. He simply doesn’t possess anything like the quality required as neatly epitomised by his final contribution being to lamp a cross into the South Bank. You might, maybe, get away with him as a left sided centre half if we were really in a pinch. But then when everyone’s fit, he’d be well down the pecking order for that position. Seems a pleasant enough chap and all, but I’m not entirely sure why he’s still here.

Jack Price

A reasonable game in his first outing since the last round of this competition. Passing was generally decent and looked to find the wingbacks quite often rather than simply laying it off five yards as he’s been guilty of in the past. Indeed, it was his excellent ball to Barry Douglas which led to our goal. You wouldn’t think he’s ever going to seriously compete for a first team spot in the league now; he’s more there as extra insurance should we suffer an injury crisis. But worth having him around for now. Oddly, since looking more than decent on set pieces at the Birmingham away game last season, I don’t think I’ve seen him take a single corner or free kick.

Alfred N’Diaye

A bit of a backward step here after his encouraging start to his Wolves career. Did fairly well in the first half, one little flurry of skill in particular showing what he can do, but faded thereafter and didn’t influence the game much. I’d like to see him run with the ball a little more as he definitely has the capability to do it. Still, minutes under the belt.

Ben Marshall

Probably the biggest disappointment of the night. We know from last season that he’s a good footballer who makes up for his lack of pace with his passing and crossing abilities. However, in the first half in particular, so many moves broke down with a slack ball from Marshall in the final third, and his set pieces were woeful throughout. Not good when that’s one of your major selling points. It does appear that he takes a long time to get up to speed following an injury lay-off and with that in mind, it was good for him to at least get some further time on the pitch. He needs to pick up from this standard though, and quickly. It’s a little strange that we haven’t tried him at any stage as the right wing back as you would think that when Helder Costa returns, this is his most likely route into the team (and also where Matt Doherty – who is actually performing fairly well at the moment, hold the front page – has very little competition or cover).

Bright Enobakhare

Over two years since his last first team goal, it was vital that he got off the mark for this campaign because as we all know, his range of skills are not going to be of much use to us if there is no end product to speak of. Should have put us 1-0 up within the 90 minutes only to see a slightly casual volley well saved by the Rovers keeper. Tracked back diligently at times and was the pick of our attacking players on the night, not that it was an especially high bar.

Michal Zyro

Above all, it was just good to see Zyro back on the pitch after that awful injury resulting from the assault (I can’t say tackle, because it wasn’t) from Antony Kay 18 months or so ago. Started brightly enough with two efforts flying just over…but there wasn’t a great deal else to speak of. There’s a fair way to go before he can be considered ready to play with any kind of regularity. Even when he does get fit, it’s not apparent where he’s going to fit in; in most of his appearances here he’s been used as a central striker and while he tries hard and does have power on his side, his mobility isn’t really up to the mark and he’s no kind of focal point to play off. As for playing out wide…well he isn’t really comparable to the players we regularly use out there (or as inside forwards, as they are now). There isn’t much that he has in common with Diogo Jota, for instance.

Barry Douglas

On for the uninspiring Deslandes on the hour and having not featured for a month, the runout will have done him good. Looked understandably rusty early on but did grow into the game a little and it was he who set up the winner with a neat pull back. Good to see him back and the battle between him and Ruben Vinagre for the left wing back spot will be intriguing to watch. Great to have two quality options there.

Connor Ronan

On for Marshall and for the remainder of normal time was used in the same inside forward position where I’m reliably informed he impressed at Southampton. He was busy enough here without really getting on the ball that much. For extra time was switched to right wing back and it’s fair to say that he will not play too many further games there. Did his level best, but was an easy target as Bristol hit diagonals in his direction and he simply isn’t equipped to play there. Let’s chalk that one down as a failed experiment.

Ivan Cavaleiro

I’ve mentioned before how tiresome it’s becoming to hear audible, mass groaning whenever Bright Enobakhare delays a pass or gives the ball away. More so because those same standards don’t seem to apply to other players. Cav came on here and for the first 10 minutes or so that he was on the park he was appalling. Like, pub player level. Didn’t get anything right. Have a guess how much stick he got from the stands. It’s the same amount of Mercury Prizes that Northern Uproar have. He did improve from there in fairness and even put in some useful defensive work near the end.

Donovan Wilson

Our first ever fourth sub, fact fans. Had three opportunities to use that pace of his to trouble the visitors’ defence; the first two came to nothing but the third saw him neatly spin his man and find himself clean through, 35 yards out or so…and was pulled back. The ensuing red card was scant consolation as it would have been better all round if he could have gone on to score.

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Five cup wins in 12 months now. Madness…

Will Norris

As you might expect, Norris wasn’t overly tested against opponents who were coming straight off the back of an 8-2 defeat. What he did have to do was impressive; claiming crosses, sweeping up in a proactive fashion, quick distribution and plenty of communication with his defenders. If John Ruddy were to be unavailable for any reason, there should be little concern about playing Norris in a league fixture as he looks an extremely assured figure. Let’s just say he’s a significant step up from our previous biscuit handed, Toblerone-booted back up keeper.

Ryan Bennett

Signing Bennett always seemed a strange move. He’d never really managed to nail down a first team place at Norwich whichever division they were playing in and had rarely looked like a top-end option even in the Championship. His profile is certainly at odds with the majority of players we’ve brought in this season. On this showing, the best you could say is that he’s a bit of an upgrade on Richard Stearman and Ethan Ebanks-Landell. Frankly, he isn’t a particularly good footballer – he managed to control the ball straight out of play once and his range of passing is way below what we require from our defenders in this system – and while there wasn’t too much to concern him defensively in this game, he doesn’t look the quickest on the turn. He also pulled out a Stearman-style dragback which brought back some harrowing flashbacks. When Kortney Hause returns, you’d think he’d be sixth in line for three spots, which probably isn’t what he signed up for. I wouldn’t expect to see too much of him this season barring an injury crisis or some kind of Steve Bruce novel plot where all our other centre halves get kidnapped by Mossad agents for some unclear reason.

Danny Batth

A comfortable enough outing in the middle of the back three, which is surely where he has to play if he is called upon. One pass which was left a little short of Boly led to the usual moans and groans but generally he was fine in possession and dealt with the assorted hoofs forward from Yeovil in competent enough fashion. He’s simply a fairly experienced, steady enough back up option now, the kind that we’re told every squad needs.

Willy Boly

A surprise inclusion but this game won’t have taken too much out of him. Completely in cruise control from start to finish, he could still be playing now without breaking sweat. He’s a far, far better footballer than I envisaged; dealing with a 60 yard hoof forward is one thing. Cushioning it down straight to a team mate is another. Strode forward a couple of times and one crunching challenge in particular sent the message of “don’t come within five yards of me”. Should have scored in the first half – free header, 10 yards out and sent wide – which would have given the game a different complexion.

Jordan Graham

It seems that Graham has attracted criticism in some parts for his performance last night. It’s true that he didn’t often run at his full back in the fashion that we know he can, and at times he appeared to be playing within himself. Some of his set piece delivery was poor and perhaps you’d expect a little more of an impact against a League Two team from such a talented player. But on the flipside; this was his first meaningful 90 minutes for a very, very long time. He’s playing on the opposite side to where he’s accustomed to turning out, in an unfamiliar position (not that anyone who plays at wingback for us at present has to do much defending, but it’s still different from playing as part of a front three which is pretty much exclusively where he’s played for us previously). He sorted out his delivery in the end to provide yet another assist. He still has a way to go to work out his precise role in this team and to feel his way back properly into first team football, but this wasn’t anything like as bad an outing as the early reviews might indicate.

Ruben Vinagre

This was not only Vinagre’s debut for us, but his first ever game at senior level for any club. You can certainly see why we brought him in and view him as a long-term prospect. Much like Barry Douglas, his first touch is impeccable and he has the pace and engine to get up and down the left flank all game. A couple of fine deliveries sadly went unconverted and he looks well enough built to cope with first team football. The one black mark was a momentary loss of concentration which allowed Yeovil in for their one clear chance which, in fairness, really should have been converted. He’s not going to push Douglas immediately, but the more he plays, the better he’ll do. There’s certainly more than enough talent there.

Jack Price

He was Jack Price. Pretty much any of the reviews I’ve ever written of him can apply here. In truth he didn’t have much to do as Yeovil didn’t even attempt to play through midfield and he’s never going to have much of an impact going forward. He’s done well to remain in the reckoning as it seemed inevitable that he was going to leave this summer – all new Wolves managers seem to love him when they first start out – and you can see how he’ll fit into our system if we require him to play. The problem with playing him in this kind of game is that he isn’t going to make any kind of an inestimable case for inclusion. He doesn’t necessarily look any better against Yeovil than he would against Derby.

Dave Edwards

Two outings so far for Dave and on both occasions, his first contribution has been to lamp a “pass” wildly into touch. Nothing like making a good first impression, eh. Nuno showed some decent tactical awareness from the outset here by not merely expecting Dave to play like Ruben Neves – which would be a little like asking Cheryl Cole to sing like Liam Gallagher (or indeed, sing at all ) – instead pushing him further on and with a brief to run beyond the forwards. In terms of movement, he didn’t do too badly. His runs in the first half in particular were definitely dragging the Yeovil defenders out of position and creating space, although he did pointlessly run offside a number of times which really shouldn’t be the case from someone so experienced. The problem, as ever, came when he was expected to do anything with the ball. And there’s little anyone is going to be able to do about that at this point. It’s also why he surely isn’t going to play much of a part this season.

Connor Ronan

Showcased again what a talented player he is. Not everything came off for him last night; he’ll be disappointed that he didn’t make a better fist of a couple of long range shots and while his passing (both short and long) early on was excellent, he did drop off a little in this respect as the game went on. He was understandably eager to impress and perhaps tried to be a bit too ambitious on occasion, but there were enough signs to suggest that he’ll develop into someone we can slot into our midfield in time. As ever, showed strength at times that belies the fact that he looks like he belongs in Grange Hill or whatever the 2010s equivalent is.

Nouha Dicko

We saw on Saturday that he’s going to struggle to make the grade as a central striker simply because of what we require from the occupant of that position in the style which Nuno wants us to play. He was shifted further to the left of the notional front three last night…and again it didn’t really work. Struggled to get into the game and went lengthy spells without touching the ball. Moved into the centre for the final 20 minutes or so and immediately looked more at home. Put a shot narrowly over the bar and then guided home a nice header into the corner from Graham’s corner. The goal itself seemed to perk him up and there was a bit more of the familiar Dicko snap about his game. There are still plenty of question marks over his future, especially when we inevitably add to our attacking resources.

Leo Bonatini

Being so short of football going into the season and out of necessity being immediately thrown into the team, this was a fitness exercise for Leo more than anything. There weren’t many opportunities for him – a header over the bar in the first half was about it – and his contribution was largely limited to a handful of nice layoffs. It’s another 70 minutes under his belt and that’s the most important thing.

Bright Enobakhare

While we controlled the game throughout, what we were perhaps lacking was a bit of a direct threat. Bright definitely gave us that, showing off his mad skillz and it was his run which earned us the corner from which we scored the only goal. Perhaps it is as an impact sub where he might be best employed for the time being.

Diogo Jota

The drizzle was falling, the temperature hovered around 13 degrees…and wouldn’t you know it, Jota was still able to play. Showed some early signs of a good link up with Vinagre in particular and it won’t be long before he gets off the mark for us.

Romain Saiss

Brought on with 10 to go to see out the game and make sure any threat was snuffed out. Which he’s really rather good at.

Oscillating Wildly is a “pay-as-you-feel” website. The content will never disappear behind a paywall. However, if you enjoy my work and would like to help me continue to write – as this is essentially my main focus now – please consider making a small donation via the button near the top of the page. If you want to and can, that’s great. If not, then no worries.