Wolves 2 Barnsley 1

For half an hour I was convinced Barnsley had an extra man.

Every single loose ball spilled out to a white shirt and the fluency we’ve come to expect was lacking.

It wasn’t anything so underhanded. The Tykes just played a high line, suffocated Wolves in possession and cut off the supply to their most potent attacking weapons.

This was an uphill slog and although the visitors never once tested John Ruddy from open play, their possession and territory kept forcing set pieces where vulnerability was again exposed.

The problem doesn’t seem to be dealing with the initial cross, more a failure to clear the knock downs and remaining organised when the ball is recycled. Barnsley and Bristol City have both reaped the rewards and others will target such an obvious frailty.

You couldn’t have begrudged Barnsley a point if they’d managed to hold on after that injury time heartbreaker.

The possession stats were split right down the middle, as were shots (Wolves one better off) and they forced 8 corners to our 5.

Numbers don’t always reflect the game but it did feel like they were in the ascendancy for much of this game, albeit lacking a killer instinct.

Wolves by contrast rarely found a rhythm but did create chances throughout. Cavaleiro shot wide in the first half, Bonatini fluffed when clean through and Douglas saw a powerful effort pushed wide.

N’Diaye and Enobakhare were eventually dispatched to make things happen and boy, they certainly delivered.

Bright couldn’t be more different to Cavaleiro. While the Portuguese man always seems to be in forward motion, bending and twisting away from tackles, Enobakhare rarely exits walking pace.

There was divided opinion over Cavaleiro’s contribution yesterday. I thought he did some decent things and was one of the few players to drive us forward but there were loose passes and sloppy moments too. It was a big drop from his level against Bristol City and I wasn’t surprised to see him hooked.

Enobakhare’s controlled, almost indifferent finish was sublime and worthy of winning what had been a forgettable game up to that point.

But the Nigerian needed one more moment of inspiration after Barnsley had spoiled the party, sliding a neat through ball for Bonatini to put it on a plate for the onrushing N’Diaye.

The big midfielder couldn’t miss after his perfectly timed run and having put over the cross for the first goal, his contribution was perhaps the most telling.

If his purpose is to offer a different approach to Neves and Saiss it’s mission accomplished. His battering ram cameo was something to behold and exactly what was needed.

Special mention too for Bonatini, who looked classy again and is exceptional at bringing others into play. He has to score that one-on-one in the second half but it’s tough to question his overall efforts.

I also thought Batth was tremendous, making crucial blocks and tackles when Barnsley had us stretched.

Overall, it’s pleasing to see the team come away victorious despite the opposition being so effective with a high pressing game.

But Wolves needed to demonstrate greater enthusiasm and more invention in that first half. Too many players looked off the pace and those small percentages add up to a big difference.

It won’t always be a cruise and this get out of jail free was a timely reminder.

Wolves Vs Barnsley Preview

We got in trouble with some Barnsley fans last season after they battered Wolves in this fixture.

A few Tykes supporters felt there was an insinuation in our report that teams ‘like Barnsley’ shouldn’t be beating us 4-0.

But nobody was belittling their club. In fact, we were complimentary about just how superior they were that evening.

Fast forward to now and at the risk of another dressing down, Barnsley definitely should not be beating us 4-0 this time. Sorry chaps.

Barnsley

The team that got them up into the Championship obviously had some talent because most of them have been picked off.

Hourihane, Mawson and Winnall are just three names who’ve moved on for big money.

It’s a big ask for Paul Heckingbottom to keep rebuilding the side when other clubs keep swooping in for their best and brightest.

They’re currently down in 20th and still looking for their first away win of the season.

However, a strong showing at Wembley in midweek against Spurs, albeit in defeat, will have given them heart.

Former Walsall man Tom Bradshaw has 5 goals already and is one to keep an eye on Saturday.

Wolves

Whichever combination Nuno chooses, I feel confident the overall quality won’t suffer.

I still think the team that won the first three matches of the season is our best eleven.

But the players who’ve benefited from injuries like Batth and Vinagre have come in and done well.

N’Diaye also offers something different to Saiss, which is no bad thing. You don’t always want two static holding players.

It’s a squad game but Jota has fast become the main man and he’s the one player everyone wants to see on the teamsheet.

Predictions

I’m so confident that we’ll win that I’m almost certain we won’t. There’s a football fan’s logic for you.

Maybe this current Barnsley team are better than the bits I’ve seen and maybe we’re not as good as I think we are, but everything points to a home victory.

I’m going for 2-0.

Up The Wolves!

* Well done to Beford Wolf who won the Art of Football competition and thanks to everyone who took part.

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Art of Football Competition

It’s been a while since we did a competition so when the lads from Art of Football got in touch about their new Bully design I was only happy to team up.

If you want to win one of these t-shirts featuring the iconic airplane celebration, simply leave a comment below completing the following sentence:

‘The last time I felt like doing the airplane was…’

Try to keep it clean.

The comment with the most votes at 10am on Friday 22nd September wins with the winner to be announced in the preview for the Barnsley game.

Some competition terms…

  • I’ve checked with the guys at Art of Football and they will ship internationally so this is open to everyone.
  • One comment (or entry) per person.
  • Competition prize is a tshirt featuring the above design, available in black, white, navy or dark grey with sizes from S to XXL. For more information about the product go here.

Best of luck guys and girls.

To view the full range of Wolves products from Art of Football go here.

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Wolves 1 Bristol Rovers 0

Yeah, wasn’t great.

But The Peripherals found a way to overcome a plucky Bristol Rovers and that’s all that matters. We’re in the hat baby.

As others have already stated, Will Norris was comfortably Man of the Match underlining the hard miles Wolves were forced to endure.

We should focus on individuals in games like this because you can’t just staple eleven players together and call it a team. Cohesion will always be elusive.

Norris was outstanding and definitely has a whiff of de Gae with his tall angular frame and low hanging shirt. Had it not been for his acrobatics this would have gone the distance or worse.

It’s nice to think that should John Ruddy be felled at some point we’ve got an exciting prospect ready and willing. On this evidence mind, he won’t fancy being second pick for too long.

Conor Coady is either making that position at the heart of the back three look easy or his team mates are doing a stellar job of protecting him.

It’s probably a bit of both, but no doubting the affable Scouser has never been so comfortable in a gold shirt. He’s running the show in cruise control.

The importance of Enobakhare’s goal shouldn’t be underestimated either with that lingering sense that it could all just click for the youngster at any moment.

He was at his scintillating and infuriating best at times last night but thwacking that ball into the roof of the net might just given him that extra five per cent to become a more potent weapon.

Great to see Douglas back in action too. He got forward to supply the pass for Bright’s winner and will be pushing hard to regain the shirt from Vinagre.

Hause didn’t get on, but the fact he was named among the substitutes suggests he’s not far off, while Bennett didn’t even make the squad.

It was interesting that Nuno retained his first choice back three while the rest of the team was rotated out. I’m sure there’s method there.

But onwards and upwards and all that.

Fingers crossed for Spurs away.

Wolves Vs Bristol Rovers Preview

I’m desperate for Wembley, so a home tie against the lowest ranked side left in the competition felt rather dreamy.

That is until someone pointed out that drawing Spurs away would have made the path considerably easier.

Oh well, if we can overcome Bristol Rovers we’re just three matches away from earning that trip to the home of football the old fashioned way.

But I’m not getting ahead of myself. The convincing win over Southampton hasn’t papered over the cracks of our less than convincing win over Yeovil.

Cautious optimism is the order of the day.

Bristol Rovers

Midtable in League One is as high as I can remember Rovers being for some time and they appear to have consolidated their status in the third tier after promotion a few years back.

They finished just 7 points outside the play-offs last season so it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that they could be playing Championship football in the not too distant future.

Manager Darrell Clarke thinks the group of players should be pushing for promotion so there’s a certain level of expectation.

Striker Billy Bodin has scored for fun this season and was reportedly the subject of Championship interest in the final days of the transfer window. He’s one to look out for.

Fulham were dispatched 1-0 in the previous round, so Rovers already have form for upsetting the odds.

Wolves

A smaller squad and a handful of injuries could mean less changes to the starting XI, but then again I’d expect most of the second string to get some game time, which might mean a team something like:

The above is a touch disjointed so probably wide of the mark but you’d expect most of them to get on the pitch – either from the start or off the bench.

Helder Costa’s road to recovery has been a bit cloak and dagger of late, but he’s been training for a while so an appearance could be imminent. Hause is another that could make a long awaited return.

Dead certs to play must be Norris, Deslandes, Bennett, Price, Ronan and Enobakhare. Zyro, N’Diaye and Marshall could also do with some minutes.

Donovan Wilson will be keen to make an appearance against his former club and after coming off the bench to score against Southampton, you’d imagine he’ll feature at some stage.

Predictions

It’s a banana skin waiting to happen but we should have enough quality to get through, so hopefully we do it with a bit to spare for a change.

I’ll go for the trusty old 3-1.

Up The Wolves!

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Nottingham Forest 1 Wolves 2

Nuno’s time under the tutelage of the current Manchester United manager may have been brief, but it could prove telling come the end of the season.

This game bore all the hallmarks of a Josè Mourinho side, with titillating football hard to come by for much of the game but no less crucial when it did occur.

Diogo Jota will deservedly get the plaudits for his match winning brace, but in truth it was a characterful team display that earned us the three points.

Wolves struggled to impose their usual style of play against a Forest side that more than played their part in this fixture, and yet found a way to claim the spoils come full time.

Early days it may be, but that is promotion winning form.

After the madcap outing against Bristol City, this game stood out as a real test of our credentials.

Forest have improved greatly under the shrewd management of Mark Warburton and were unsurprisngly in no mood to play for a point.

This culminated in a poor first half in which both sides were limited to half chances, with neither keeper overly exerted.

That soon changed after half time, with Jota converting a sumptuous cross from the otherwise ineffective Ivan Cavaleiro.

Much has been made of John Ruddy’s culpability for the Forest equaliser which followed, but I’m of the mind to excuse a player that has otherwise been in imperious form for us this campaign.

Not many keepers would expect Mustapha Carayol to hit it from where he did, let alone anticipate it being on target.

The home supporters stirred and as was the case on Tuesday, one couldn’t help but get flashbacks to the previous two seasons in which Wolves would so often crumble under such resistance.

But this team is a different beast altogether, and Leo Bonatini (who also endured a quiet game) took one hell of a bump to tee up the effervescent Jota for the winner.

On current form, the diminutive inside forward is set to write himself into club folklore. I certainly can’t recall seeing a player of his calibre don old gold in my decade of following the club, Helder Costa included.

Given the influx of wildly talented foreign imports, you can forgive opposition supporters for anointing us as the most reviled team in the league.

But in my eyes, and most likely those of the similarly delirious away support yesterday, that makes our success all the more fun.

Long may it continue.