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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Barnsley 1 Wolves 3

Typical of Wolves to go to Barnsley on a miserable Tuesday evening and lose…

…After an FA Cup win at Anfield, a £13 million record signing and a genuinely fresh-thinking season ticket offer, these last four days have never felt less typical.

The times they are a-changin’, with this 3-1 win offering more evidence of such, not least when we look lethal from set-pieces, score early in another game and prevent that inevitable goal from a former player (Hammill).

Playing Barnsley minus top scorer Sam Winnall and talisman Conor Hourihane meant we were facing them at the perfect time but again, when does fate befall us in such a favourable way?

Hopefully this league win will alleviate any lingering looks over our shoulders towards the bottom three, just a week or so since our Norwich defeat raised one or two alarm bells.

Clearly, Paul Lambert is engendering a special bond amongst his players – and those fans who made the hike up to south Yorkshire – and his words to the Fans’ Parliament a month or two ago ring true:

‘You have a brilliant club, but you’ve just come off the rails a bit and need to get back on track. But forget it (the past), it’s gone.’

Beating Liverpool, signing Costa and now David Edwards scoring a brace away from home suggests we’re getting back on track and embracing what the future might hold, rather than moither over yesterday’s misdemeanours.

This game sounded as good as over when Alex Mowatt clattered Jack Price to see red within minutes of Dave Edwards nodding home Connor Ronan’s free kick to put us two-up. It could conceivably have been three at half time too, had the referee not reversed an initial penalty decision which looked a cast iron spot kick.

Earlier, Kortney Hause did his best Richard Stearman impression to score from a dead ball while the fans were still taking to their seats.

Being hypercritical, we sounded a bit ragged against 10 men near the end when the game was already sealed from Edwards’s second.

But when we’re building more momentum (as typified by Connor Ronan tonight) it’s best to just enjoy this heady ride while it lasts – without looking back!

Barnsley Vs Wolves Preview

Is there really a match tonight?

After Saturday’s legal high and the mouthwatering prospect of Chelsea’s visit to Molineux in the next round, can there be a more stark contrast?

But regroup we must as there’s still a considerable amount of work to be done in the league.

I find it very difficult, given how Wolves are playing and the feel good factor, to envisage us slipping down into relegation strife.

But even so, everyone will feel better when there’s a bit more distance and a few more places between ourselves and the bottom three.

This is a really tough fixture against a team who continue to succeed against the odds.

Barnsley

It must be so frustrating for Paul Heckingbottom to see his best players continually getting picked off.

Defender James Bree and captain Conor Hourihane were the latest to leave with Aston Villa recognising the talent both possess.

They follow Wolves academy graduate Sam Winnall out the Oakwell exit door after he departed for Sheffield Wednesday earlier in the month.

Reinforcements have arrived in the shape of Leicester midfielder Matty James and Leeds’ highly rated youngster Alex Mowatt.

But it’s a big ask for a team with so much upheaval to continually regroup and consistently win matches as the Tykes have been doing this season.

They’ve won 7 out of their last 10 matches in fact and come into the game just a point outside the play-offs. The 23 goals they’ve conceded at home is the highest of any team in the league.

Wolves

Signing a genuine superstar like Helder Costa for £13 million seems unfathomable when you consider we’ve dined out on budget recruitment, free transfers and loans for so long.

If we can fend off summer interest, he’ll be a key addition next season, particularly if the goal is still promotion from the Championship.

In the here and now I can’t see the Portuguese man getting a rest tonight. I’d have Bodvarsson and Mason down as definite starters and probably Price too.

But it will be fascinating to see if Paul Lambert rewards any of Saturday’s heroes who haven’t been in the team a chance to stake a more regular claim. I’m thinking about Hause, Evans and Saville in particular.

The injury to Ivan Cavaleiro is a blow because despite inconsistent performances, he’s still a threat down that left flank. Andi Weimann’s performance at Anfield proves he’s a more than able deputy though.

Paul Lambert

Predictions

We’re in a great place right now. The performances are improving, the manager has stacks of options and the whole club is bouncing.

I thought yesterday’s announcement about season tickets was also fantastic. Not only is it great value, it also shows an intent to get Molineux full again.

Despite the fact Barnsley are seventh and we’re down at the bottom, I’ll back us to get the win and hopefully avenge the 4-0 tonking they handed out at Molineux.

2-1.

Up The Wolves!

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Wolves 0 Barnsley 4

Clearly the swirling thunderstorm was a bad omen before kick-off.

 

Sinister, black skies overhead, followed by one whopping great false dawn on the sodden Molineux pitch.

Successive League One teams have now come to town and absolutely embarrassed Walter Zenga’s side – and presumably Fosun – as Jorge Mendez’ precious little talents flap around hopelessly like little kites in a hurricane.

Forget the bootlicking drivel spouted after Burton Albion’s emasculation…Collectively and individually we were pathetic on that day and against an outrageously superior Barnsley side tonight, we were as bad as the very worst performances I’ve seen over the past 12 months.

At least Kenny Jackett’s sides were disciplined and knew what they were trying to do when they were boring us all to alcoholism.

Save for a Paul Stancliffe own goal at the South Bank end and this was every bit as embarrassing as when Steve Agnew and co thrashed us 25 years ago. Aside from Stale Solbakken’s consecutive nails in the coffin against Peterborough and Ipswich and these were the worst consecutive home games in short succession that I have ever had the misery to endure.

The writing was on the wall tonight the moment Zenga hooked Jack Price at half time, our one and only shining light who could actually pass the ball. A disgraceful decision.

The haplessly one-paced, one-dimensional Coady remained, as did our flawed 4-3-3 formation which saw £200k Portsmouth plodder Jed Wallace appal on the right and the apologetically meek Joe Mason apply chalk to his boots on the other side.

Aside from Reading, this game went the way of every single other this season, whereby we literally wrote off the first 45mins owing to misfiring formation and misfiring players within it.

Barnsley were quicker in mind, fleeter in foot, sharper in possession, stronger in battle and distressingly superior in every single facet of the game. Winning 4-0 was the very least they deserved.

With Jorge Mendez’ grubby pawprints all over most of the powder puff, pretty little lightweights I’ve had the misfortune of watching in the last 180 minutes – supplemented by the usual crap we’ve all grown tired of – then 4-0 defeats are just rewards for us, too.

The ensuing match reports will doubtless paint a different picture, with fawning mistruths and grotesque marks out of 10, (the boys need to bed in folks / the future looks bright / there’s positives everywhere / there’s strength in depth) as nobody appears to be able to call a match like they see it.

For Oniangue, see an inferior Olofinjana and for Texeira and Costa I’d have referred you to Adam Hammill, but that would clearly be an injustice on our ex-winger who looked light years better than the flaky pair put together. As I still shake my head from Cavalerio’s migraine inducing performance against Burton, I couldn’t even compare him to Silas.

Only Mark McGhee’s opening 0-1 loss to Port Vale can compare to this burst bubble. And with no heartbeat, spine or intellect behind this disparate group, I can’t see an another one being blown up any time soon, not unless Silvio, Saiss and Ola John are world beaters.

Oh well, Newcastle up next…

Wolves Vs Barnsley Preview

Goals alter opinions and Burton’s late equaliser on Saturday influenced a few perspectives.

Had we got out with a scrappy one nil, it would have been seen as a good afternoon’s work. The new team toiled but eventually found their feet to get the job done.

Instead, we’re left dwelling on the patchiness of individual and collective performances and fretting about Barnsley.

What it is to be a Wolves fan.

That 94th minute leveler for the Brewers cost us a morale boosting climb to 4th in the table. We’re now back in 12th.

Barnsley

barnsley-logoThe Tykes are off to a flyer and victory over Preston at the weekend moved them up to third. Not bad for a side who came up via the play-offs.

Highly rated Newcastle forward Adam Armstrong has arrived on loan and he netted the winner at Deepdale. Having scored 20 on loan at Coventry last season, he’s one to watch tomorrow.

Adam Hammill is also back at the club where he’s enjoyed the majority of his success to date. With a turgid record against former players, you can wager he’ll be another threat.

Similar can be said of Tom Bradshaw, the former Walsall striker who was tenuously linked with a move to Wolves prior to his summer switch to Oakwell.

There’s been at least 2 goals in all of their Championship fixtures to date so a tight, cagey affair seems unlikely.

Wolves

Walter Zenga reckons he’s got the players to name two different elevens and I think he’ll make a lot of changes tomorrow.

wolves-for-barnsley

Bodvarsson and Mason should both be nailed on starters and I can see Wallace being given a run out in place of either Costa or Cavaleiro.

Neither John or Saiss were included at all Saturday so it will be interesting to see if either emerge for this one.

Hause and Iorfa are the obvious options at the back. Does rotation also apply in defence? We shall see.

Walter Zenga

Predictions

Still impossible to make any semi-educated predictions at this stage, but having gone big and failed against Burton, I’ll revert to fence sitting this time.

2-2.

Unlike Burton I think they’ve got the firepower to hurt us in the final third so we’ll need to improve or it could be even worse.

Up The Wolves!