Wolves 4 Colchester United 2

The importance of momentum was neatly encapsulated inside 90 pulsating Molineux minutes last night.

Ikeme

Wolves were gliding for an hour, three goals to the good and wasting gilt-edged chances with every other attacking foray.

In fact, only criminal profligacy from Edwards, Jacobs and repeat offender Clarke prevented their side from establishing their highest goal tally of the season. Seven wouldn’t have flattered the league leaders.

But when Colchester stole one back through a well flighted cross and a superb glancing header, the well-oiled machine began to splutter and stall.

Some neat possession football looked to have restarted the ignition, but with no real forward thrust, the Us soaked it up with ease and struck again with a replica second.

Suddenly Wolves didn’t know whether to stick or twist. Pursue another goal or defend what you’ve got? What had been a cruise on open water was suddenly like wading through a swamp.

Colchester almost made the situation stickier through Freddie Sears’ swerving effort that hit the inside of the post and rebounded to safety.

Kenny Jackett attempted to stem the flow by deploying Sako and Dicko, thus reinstating the team that had achieved 9 straight wins.

Thankfully this proved decisive as Wolves were finally able to break the shackles with a raking Sako pass and a composed finish from his best mate.

If only Clarke had showed similar equanimity in the first half, the salvage job could have been avoided.

Notable misses from the former Coventry man against Shrewsbury, Sheffield Utd and again last night raise questions about his ability to handle the weight of expectation.

His physicality is certainly an asset, as we saw with the brute strength that led to James Henry’s goal, but he will ultimately be judged on goal return.

Fortunately in Jacobs, Henry and the fit-again-for-the-moment Dave Edwards, the scoresheet continues to have pleasing variety.

A comprehensive victory this wasn’t, but dropped points from Orient and Brentford mean that momentum in the promotion race remains all ours.

Wolves Vs Colchester United Preview

Certain games just feel seminal in the context of a season.

Wolves Colchester

Saturday was such an occasion. After two disappointing results, confidence had been sapped, progress had been interrupted and chips had been firmly thrown down.

Trust Kenny Jackett then to raise the stakes even higher with a left-field team selection that ultimately proved inspired.

Such was the ease that Wolves cantered home to victory in the second half, the final whistle was greeted by nothing more than a muted cheer from the away end.

But the win was significant, arguably our most important of the season, ensuring a wobble didn’t evolve into a fall at the start of the home stretch. Hopefully now, we can power on through.

Colchester

322px-Colchester_United_FC_logo.svgOnly bottom club Notts County (2) have fewer away wins than Colchester this season. The U’s have only managed three so far.

But their respective goals for and against columns suggest most of their games are settled by the odd goal.

A late fightback at the weekend saw them earn a 2-2 draw at home to Bristol City, which helped keep clear daylight between themselves and the relegation zone.

Forward Freddie Sears returned from injury on Saturday to inspire the late rally and along with top scorer Jabo Ibehre, he represents their most potent attacking outlet.

Wolves

So what do you do now then Kenny? Stick with the team that won so impressively at Bramall Lane or stick with the team that won nine on the bounce?

Wolves team for Sheffield Utd

Team 9 will always get my vote, but it was pleasing to see the system work so effectively with different players in key positions.

Perhaps we’ll see another incarnation tomorrow with the likes of Jacobs, Henry and (dare I even suggest it?) McDonald rested in favour of Sako, Dicko and Price?

Our ability to rotate effectively could yet prove the decisive factor in the race for promotion. I’m not sure Orient or Brentford have the same strength in depth.

The odds

Wolves are red hot favourites for the win at 1/3. The draw is 17/4, with Colchester a distant 11/1.

Dave Edwards has a decent goals to games ratio and he’s 11/1 to get the opener tomorrow. James Henry, another free-scoring midfielder, is 8/1.

All odds can be found here.

Predictions

Time pressure means I haven’t totted up the scores from the weekend. Rest assured it will be business as usual by Friday.

Has to be a Wolves win tomorrow.

Shrewsbury showed that no match is a foregone conclusion, irrespective of form or quality but everything suggests a home win is the logical outcome for this one.

I’ll go for an ambitious 3-0.

Up The Wolves.

Colchester United 0 Wolves 3

‘Judge us after 10 games’ suggested Kenny Jackett back in August.

Wolves Colchester

Some two months down the line it feels good to return a positive verdict.

Eight games won, just one defeat and only Peterborough’s fractionally superior tally keeps Wolves outside of the automatic promotion places.

The goals against column is looking rather splendid too, with Carl Ikeme having let in just a miserly six goals to date. Only QPR have conceded fewer in the entire Football League.

Here’s another telling stat: Wolves have yet to concede a goal in the first half in any of their league matches. Remarkable when you consider our goal seemed to have a powerful magnet connected it to it last season.

All of this despite playing one of the best attacking full-backs in the league. Matt Doherty was the architect of this victory, first with a slaloming run into the box to win the penalty, before a powerful sprint to the byline and clever cut back for the second.

Leigh Griffiths was the grateful recipient, calmly stroking in his sixth of the season before instinctively volleying home a superb seventh. Three of those goals might have come from the spot, but they still have to be converted.

Freddy Sears showed how hard this can be, failing from 12 yards in the final knockings, as Carl Ikeme put the seal on his fifth cleansheet of the season and third in consecutive games.

Nice to see Kevin Doyle doubling his tally, arriving in the box right on cue to convert James Henry’s smart center for the third.

Bakary Sako’s predictable absence saw Wolves make it six points and six goals from the two matches he’s failed to make it onto the bus this season. Evidence to support the notion we’re a more balanced team without him?

Perhaps so. Those that went to the game have suggested this was the most complete performance of the season to date.

And at Kenny’s magical 10 game marker that’s not a bad place to be.

Highlights