If last week’s victory was a demonstration of Wolves’ ability to win beautifully, then this tempestuous fixture was the opposite.
Whether or not it had anything to do with the old adage of foreigners not liking wet and windy weather, many of our continental stars were off colour in the opening half.
Enough stray passes were played to make an untrained eye think that this was Paul Lambert’s Wolves side on display, and not the Nuno incarnation that has had us all purring of late.
Our own shortcomings aside, there’s no denying the credentials of our opposition.
Preston came with a gameplan and, much like Cardiff, executed it to perfection, though admittedly they were fortunate to have the mind bogglingly incompetent Stephen Martin on refereeing duties.
Questions were asked of Wolves, and for large parts of the game it was difficult to remain steadfast in the belief we would answer them.
Alas, this team appears to be capable of conjuring goals at will and did so at the death of a first half in which we had been second best.
The rejuvenated and oft celebrated Ivan Cavaleiro showed a striker’s instinct to tap over the line after the ball had ricocheted around the box, notching a goal which revitalised an otherwise sluggish home team.
One might argue that Leo Bonatini’s ensuing brace and the subsequent three goal advantage flattered Nuno’s side, but the majority of the 27,000 plus crowd cared little for justice at that point.
The Brazilian loanee is really starting to look the part and has proven the frivolous concerns of some regarding his ability to score goals to be just that. His nimble footwork, deceiving strength and excellent reading of the game makes him a key cog in our feverish front three and I’d like to see Fosun make his stay at Molineux permanent come the summer.
Our healthy cushion was not to last long, with the Lilywhites providing a perhaps timely reminder that, for all the resolve of the new look back three, we are still capable of conceding needless goals.
First, the impressive Jordan Hugill was given the freedom of Molineux and headed home a teasing cross before Roderick Miranda then conspired to miss a routine clearance and allow Preston to force home a sloppy own goal.
I’m a fan of Miranda, believing him to be one of the more underrated of our summer acquisitions, but he was our weakness for much of yesterday’s game. He’ll need to improve his concentration levels if he’s to fend off the returning Willy Boly’s claim for a place in the starting eleven.
What ensued after that carnage was an acid test of our resilience, with Preston dominating the ball and invoking some real backs to the wall defending. Connor Coady and Romain Saiss were particularly brilliant during this period, both using their gangly frames to help prevent disaster.
After we rode out a spell of seemingly endless pressure, the aforementioned Martin decided to allow the game to descend into farce by instigating a mass brawl between all sets of players. This culminated in the just sending off of Alan Browne and his hilarious ‘Where’s Wally?’ like efforts to find him after his quick trudge down the tunnel.
Some comic relief on an otherwise stressful, but no less gratifying, afternoon.
Though Nuno’s unlikely to have enjoyed this one quite as much as he did the Villa game, his team have nonetheless proven that they can win games one of two ways. History will tell you that’s an essential characteristic for any promotion chasing side to have, and whilst it remains early days it’s hard to contest the view that Wolves are looking ominously equipped to achieve their ambitions.