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

Colchester United Vs Wolves Preview

It’s amazing to think Wolves have won seven of their opening nine games, yet still sit outside the automatic promotion places.

Colchester United

That shows just how difficult it will be to get out of this division. The wins need to keep on coming because a points tally of 90+ looks like being the minimum requirement for a top two finish.

Bournemouth managed to get out with 83 points last year, which was unusually low. The year before Sheffield United missed out on second place to their city neighbours despite amassing 90 points. And the year before that, 92 points was only just enough for a second place finish for Southampton.

I’m already looking at Peterborough and Preston as teams that could conceivably ratchet up the pressure and who knows if Leyton Orient can carry on as they have been. It’s going to be a slog.

Colchester

After narrowly avoiding relegation to League Two last season, I would think Colchester are satisfied with their current midtable position.

Their start has been solid if not spectacular with five draws and two wins from their nine games to date. That says to me they’re going to be tough to beat.

The juggernaut that is Leyton Orient are the only team thus far to return from the Colchester Community Stadium with three points. Crawley and Carlisle have managed draws but Port Vale were edged out 1-0.

Former West Ham striker Freddie Sears is one to watch out for. If I’m not mistaken he’s scored against Wolves before and has three goals to his name already this season, as does fellow forward and former Walsall man Jabo Ibehre.

Wolves

Bravo to Wolves for rebuffing Nottingham Forest this week in their ongoing pursuit of Bakary Sako. As last week demonstrated he’s integral to our own promotion hopes and must be retained at all costs. I hope he’ll play tomorrow too, perhaps in a team of:

Wolves Colchester

The above XI would also mean a debut to new signing James Henry. We seem to be doing a good job of getting established Championship players to drop down a division, which can only be a good thing.

I’ve heard good things from Millwall fans about the former Reading winger, but part of me hopes he’s crap just to hear my old man scream ‘bloody Henry’ again. I’ve missed that this season. ‘Bloody Davis’ doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.

Kenny continues to rotate the strikers, which I think is smart thinking. Doyle brings control and quality but as we know isn’t going to score the goals we need. Siggy is more of a direct threat but still far too erratic. Even Griffiths has been up and down after a strong start. The competition is good for them all.

The odds

Wolves are favourites to win and make it three victories on the bounce at odds of 17/20. Colchester are 10/3. Or if you fancy the draw, it’s available at 29/10.

Kevin Doyle is a reasonable 5/1 to get the first goal, or if you think Sako will once again pledge his allegiance with the opener, you can get 13/2. Jabo Ibehre is Colchester’s most likely first scorer at 15/2.

All odds available from SoccerBase here.

Predictions

64 wise pundits thought we’d beat Sheffield United last weekend. 11 of those also got the 2-0 scoreline to double up. It’s a single for everyone else.

I’ve been slack in updating the table the last few weeks, but hopefully it will be updated by the time you read this. Please drop me a message if you think you’re owed points. I know some people have been leaving predictions in other posts, some of which I likely haven’t seen.

I think this will be close game, but as we continue to strengthen the squad with astute signings, my confidence grows.

I believe we’ll win this one and win it well.

3-1

Up The Wolves.