Wolves 2 Barnet 1

When a League Cup performance is as fizzy and crisp as this one at Molineux, it’s a shame the sponsors are no longer Carling…

Wolves Barnet

…Admission was roughly the same price as a cheap round of beer and the experience was way more palatable, just when we we’d become parched for a positive to get stuck into.

Forget the scoreline, (and the opposition for that matter).

This really was a pleasant performance from a youthful looking side against Barnet, which should have yielded five or six goals minimum on another night.

It certainly went some way in washing away that bitter, gassy aftertaste of the Cardiff defeat, which can only be a good thing.

The system looked more like a 4-2-3-1 with Adam Le Fondre up top and Bright Enobokhare in behind.

Sheyi Ojo and Jed Wallace occupied the other advanced positions with Jack Price and George Saville anchoring.

At the back, the positively gargantuan four of Ebanks-Landell, Hause, Deslandes and Doherty were rarely troubled, with the full backs offering the requisite levels of mobility to befit a Kenny Jackett side.

Ojo, a clear man-of-the-match contender, offered more in these 90 minutes than we’ve seen before, while Deslandes looked at home at left back, if not lacking in composure here and there.

In short, it was a raw performance, full of young raw players with a heck of a lot going for them.

Bright Enobakhare was a shining example of this, scoring a well worked opener following a defensive lapse and showing positional maturity in a number 10 role, with one or two bustling runs at full throttle.

It was a performance that underlined the ‘DNA’ of a typical Wolves player these days and boy weren’t we a big, physical unit with no shortage of ability on the ball!

But for some ice cool instinct and this could have been a landslide.

Which brings us back to the bigger picture and the need for some experience who these lads can really learn from.

Throw in this missing ingredient and we really would be salivating.

Five things we learned from this game:

1. There has to be a place for Jack Price in our first team.

The lad oozes class and composure on the ball and we must find a way to accommodate him in that holding role. He was excellent and we know he brings the best out of McDonald. He outshone George Saville, who was neat and tidy enough.

2. We still need a target man.

Ok, so this might seem churlish to say when we could have won by 5 or 6 and Le Fondre did pretty well, but when there is such pace and mobility buzzing around the final third, a big man to be their focal point seems a no brainer. Le Fondre did ok up top, but there’s still little to suggest he’s any different to what we have. The possibilities are endless with a proven Plan B.

3. Don’t expect too much from Jed Wallace.

It was a competent showing from the ex-Pompey man but I saw little to suggest he’ll be challenging for the first team any time soon. It’s his first game back so a long way to go for him, but that explosive pace and power was to be seen elsewhere.

4. Sheyi Ojo is some prospect

On this performance, you’d have to say he is above van la Parra in the pecking order of wingmen, if not James Henry.

As Andy Gray said about Bully way back when: ‘He’s got rough edges! (But I like rough edges!)

He will infuriate at times but he will occupy defenders and give them some real headaches on this showing. Add in Dicko and Afobe to the mix and we really have the potential to hurt teams.

5. Experience needed!

For all of our impressive build-up play and explosive attacks, we were still hanging on a wee bit at the end and should never have been defending a one goal lead at that point. It was crazy.

So here’s a thought…

…Get on the phone to Tony Pulis for Lescott and while you’re at it, have a word with Tim Sherwood for Libor Kozak (who Villa don’t want!).

We’d get an instant fix of grizzled wherewithal to replace a lingering sense of naivety.

Wolves Vs Barnet Preview

I was there in 1998.

Barnet

2-1 down from the first leg (back when the League Cup was considered important enough to constitute two matches per round), Wolves smashed Barnet to dust inside a half empty Molineux to progress.

Bully netted his 18th (and final) hat-trick for the club and Robbie Keane executed one of the most audacious finishes you’ll ever see.

I actually put a bet on Wolves to win 5-0, but sadly it was only £1 and the odds were only 20/1. Still, not a bad earner.

After seeing us toil in Wales at the weekend and only narrowly progress past Newport, I’d happily accept a much narrower victory this time.

Barnet

530px-Barnet_FC.svgThe Bees have endured a worse start than Wolves and currently sit 21st in League Two with just three points from their opening four matches.

However, after promotion from the conference last season, survival is probably an acceptable achievement.

They beat Millwall in extra time to progress beyond the first round and will be sniffing a bigger upset this time.

One familiar name from their teamsheet is Graham Stack, who had two loan spells at Wolves, but barely ever featured for the first team.

Martin Allen, now in his fourth spell as Barnet manager will have fond Molineux memories.

His Gillingham side were thrashed 4-0 in League One two years back and his luminous red trousers prompted chants of ‘Are you Santa in disguise?’ from the South Bank.

Wolves

That was a train wreck of a performance in Cardiff. Kenny said it was an even game and while I agree there wasn’t a lot in it prior to their first goal, he’ll know we should be doing a lot better.

Wolves Barnet

There are noises about major changes to the side tonight, so who knows what sort of XI we’ll see given the personnel at Kenny’s disposal?

If the above team came to fruition that would be nine changes from the side that kicked off against Cardiff.

That doesn’t even include the likes of Tommy Rowe, Jordan Graham or young striker Bright Enobakhare who might also figure.

Personally I’d like to see more of the first team retained, regardless of recent stumbles. I want us to win and progress. Losing with a few decent individual displays isn’t my cup of cocoa.

The gaffer

Predictions

Much like Newport, you’d hope that changes to the team don’t mean we come unstuck against lower league opposition.

But more ins and outs are predicted tonight and we barely scraped through in the last round despite playing the likes of Afobe, Dicko and Coady.

I do fear an upset but hope Kenny picks a sensible side that can get the job done.

I’ll go for a narrow win – 2-1.

Up The Wolves!