This is the first of, hopefully, three-cup finals.

Last updated : 09 May 2003 By Dave Burgess


Well, here we are again!

Play-off attempt number 5. With the exception of the inaugural season in the play-offs, when we lost a two-legged final to Aldershot, we’ve never gone beyond the semi-final stage.

Every time at the semi-final hurdle, our away form has cost us dear but this season our away form has made up for far too many home draws. Therefore, unless there is some highly dramatic scoreline tomorrow, there is still hope for us in the away leg.

A full house at Molineux will be quietly confident of success despite the past agonies. We have the best current form of all four of the play-off contenders and are in a very different mood to the one we entered the Norwich duel last season.

In the league it’s been won one, lost one with Reading. A 1-0 home defeat in September, when we were playing badly, was reversed with Miller’s goal sealing all three points at the Madjeski in March.

Reading finished 3 points ahead of us in their first season in Division 1. However, their goal difference was far inferior. Bizarrely, they only drew 4 of their 46 league fixtures so it’s a case of win or lose for the boys from Berkshire.

What about the opposition?

16 goal Nicky Forster is the man danger man. Although he’s aided and abetted by Jamie Cureton and Andy Hughes, who scored at Molineux earlier in the season.

They haven’t scored as many goals as we’ve knocked in, but they are quiet tight at the back so they might come to keep the game close and frustrate Wolves.

Last week they went down 1-0 at Stoke when the home side had more urgency and appetite for the points.

However, they’ve won 12 on the road so they know how to approach fixtures.

Alan Pardew has done a splendid job and is being touted for bigger things. However, it’s one thing to get into Division 1, it’s quite another to get out of it. There is the media line that they’ve exceeded expectations so everything else is a bonus but they’ll be just as determined as us at 5.30 tomorrow afternoon.

Score Prediction:

Well you can’t tell anything from our previous history in the play-offs. We can take heart from the splendid cup performances against Newcastle and Leicester though.

Given the nature of the play-offs a lot will be mind games as to how Reading approach the game. We’ve seen in the past that the advantage of playing at home in the second leg is often undone by a too-heavy margin of defeat in the away leg.

Wolves have approached this in a much less low-key fashion than previous campaigns. Fans too aren’t getting carried away with their own hopes. We know the pain of defeat only too well.

I think the experience of Ince and Irwin will prove invaluable. Also we’ve a few form players who can make a big difference like Cameron and Blake.

We need Lescott back as he oozes class.

I’m quietly confident that we will prevail over the two legs. I’m not saying we’ll win promotion but the law of averages surely dictates we should at least reach one final…please!!

Fingers crossed.

Come on the Wolves!

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