Burton Albion 2 Wolves 1

I never thought I’d begin any piece of writing by paraphrasing the mildly annoying American rock band Paramore but the lyric ‘that’s what you get when you let your heart win’ seems appropriate for this particular report.

After the jubilation that followed last week’s heroics at Anfield and the impressive midweek victory over Barnsley, anyone would be forgiven for thinking that the good times would continue to roll at the Pirelli Stadium.

But, in true Wolves fashion, that was not to be and we all should have known better.

This club has a famed habit for kicking you in the nether regions when you’re feeling most hopeful and, true to form, the away contingent were made to endure our poorest showing under Paul Lambert.

It’s hard to recall a more unimaginative performance than the one that was churned in yesterday, our only tactic being to hit long balls to a striker that was at least half a foot shorter than the two centre backs marking him.

Burton’s torrid pitch no doubt played a part in this, with the players looking uncomfortable on it from the onset, but that excuse can only take you so far when Bristol City, Preston and Wigan have all claimed victory on it at various stages of the season.

The narrowness of the field stymied the counter attacking play that has become synonymous with Lambert’s Wolves and subsequently Weimann, Dicko and Helder Costa – the latest subject of a variation on the Dave Clark Five’s ‘Glad All Over’ – were left isolated for much of the game.

The home side on the other hand looked empowered by the conditions and dictated most of the play in a largely uneventful first half, with their recent influx of loan signings appearing to have added quality to the side that claimed a point at Molineux last September.

Keeper Jon McLaughlin conceded the initiative when he bundled Dave Edwards over just before the break and allowed Costa to claim his tenth goal of the season from the penalty spot.

It was a lead that flattered us and none of those crammed into the glamorous Russell Roof Tiles Stand were under the illusion that a major improvement was not required in the second half.

That was not forthcoming and the Brewers claimed a deserved equaliser on the hour mark through loanee Michael Kightly, becoming the latest beneficiaries of our notorious ex-players curse whilst doing so.

Wolves never looked capable of responding and Lambert was frustratingly rigid in his tactics, preferring to send Bright on ahead of Bodvarsson and deadline day recruit Ben Marshall.

By the time the latter pair had come on, the game was drawing to a close and we were hanging on for a point.

Torrid defending, otherwise known as the theme of our afternoon, prevented us from doing that and Cauley Woodrow tucked in a late winner that well and truly erases the feel good factor of last week and leaves us just seven points clear of the trapdoor.

Four successive league fixtures at home offer ample opportunity to rectify this but there can surely be seldom repeats of today’s showing if we’re to end the season comfortably.

Wolves 1 Burton Albion 1

I’m not sure how many of the players involved yesterday were planning to watch the fight between Kell Brook and GGG but but this encounter had the air of a 12 round slugfest.

A bruising affair ended with the spoils shared, which despite Walter Zenga’s protestations was a more than fair outcome.

I was surprised by the ferocity with which Burton attacked the game and it was refreshing to see an un-fancied away side play for more than a point.

It was a tactic that would have earned the Brewers an early lead had Carl Ikeme not turned away Lucas Atkins’ tame spot kick, which was dubiously awarded by referee James Adcock.

The improvement in Ikeme this season has been notable. To think his position was under threat this time last year is frankly bonkers.

Wolves slowly began to exert themselves as the game went on and showed plenty of fluidity in attack, if little execution.

Ivan Cavaleiro looks a player with the potential to reach talismanic status but shy of full fitness. It was no surprise to see him hooked in the second half.

Despite a needless booking, Helder Costa excited on the flank with purposeful dribbling and interlinked well with Cameron Borthwick-Jackson on a pleasingly frequent basis.

The latter’s debut was welcome and offered Dominic Iorfa some much needed respite after an error laden start to the campaign.

Much has been made about our new found strength in depth as of late and I’m of the opinion it will be of particular benefit in defence, an area where we were worryingly thin on numbers last season.

Of course a consequence of having plentiful options is that settling on a balance eleven can become difficult and we may have to stomach a few more frustrating outcomes over the coming weeks as our new look side find their rhythm.

The positives are there for all to see though. Wolves look like a side with attacking verve and boundless energy, two attributes which spell a recipe for success in a division as frenetic as the Championship.

It’s never ideal to drop points at the death but at this early stage of the season I think it’s wise to dwell on the good work being done by Zenga and the players, as opposed to the inadequacies (defending of set pieces and decision making in front of goal being two of them) that will hopefully be ironed out in the weeks to come.

Tuesday night sees another promoted side with wagging tails paying a visit and it’ll be interesting to see how the players respond from today’s late setback.

If early signs are anything to go by, I’m expecting something positive.

Wolves Vs Burton Albion Preview

To say the last knockings of the transfer window elevated expectations further would be some understatement.

 

The arrivals of Saiss, Stearman and reported club record signing Cavaleiro in addition to the 10 other new faces already on board have shown Wolves mean business this season.

Saiss and Cavaleiro both represent serious investment, while Stearman’s return feels beautifully symbolic, righting a major wrong of last season.

But nothing would bring Molineux crashing back down to earth faster than a poor return from a couple of matches against the more un-fancied sides.

Burton

burton_albion_fc_logo-svgI was happy to see Burton get over the line last season. It did look like they might get reeled in towards the end but a second place finish ensured glorious back-to-back promotions.

It’s been a meteoric rise for the Brewers and Gary Rowett, Jimmy Floyd-Hasselbaink and Nigel Clough can all take a dollop of credit for the most successful period in the club’s 66 year history.

After two defeats in their opening Championship fixtures, it probably felt like a long road ahead, but they’ve since enjoyed two excellent home victories and their first point away.

Beating Sheffield Wednesday and Derby shows they’re a team to be respected and are unlikely to roll over and die at the weekend.

There’s a forum thread you can read here to get the Burton perspective on the game ahead.

Wolves

I don’t know if I’m more excited about Walter Zenga’s team selection or the game itself on Saturday.

Team for Burton

Anyone from our giant squad could make it onto the pitch and that’s an exciting feeling. The above is one eleven of many, although I expect a heavier presence from the old guard.

Walter has adopted a narrower shape on a narrowed Molineux pitch so far, but it would be nice to see a bit of genuine width and at least one of Cavaleiro, John or Costa getting a start.

Competition for places has never been higher and being able to constantly introduce fresh legs will help with so many midweek Championship fixtures to navigate, but I hope an inconsistent team selection doesn’t mean inconsistent performances.

Walter Zenga

Predictions

This will be harder than most people are probably anticipating, but I do think Burton are a team who’ll rely on their home form to keep them up.

Whichever eleven players make it out onto the pitch for Wolves should be fired up, refreshed and keen to impress so I’m backing us for a win.

The old trusty 3-1.

Up The Wolves!

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save