Hull City 2 Wolves 3

Just a few weeks ago you’d be forgiven for earmarking this fixture as a battle between two of the division’s unknown quantities.

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And though four points from a possible nine would suggest that moniker still applies to Leonid Slutsky’s team, our own is beginning to look a serious prospect.

Granted, Nuno’s side avoided plenty of scares in a second half dominated by the home side but few would bemoan a dip in standards after the two stellar league performances that preceded this fixture. Aside from Nuno himself, whose press conferences continue to give the impression he is quite the taskmaster.

Certainly, his methods have looked that of a genius in these opening weeks. Wolves are producing football that millennials such as myself have never had the pleasure of associating with old gold and black, and long may it continue.

Whilst the influence of our new Head Coach and his team cannot be underestimated, its important to acknowledge the work done by his paymasters who, let it not be forgotten, had become figures of derision in the eyes of many after a turbulent first season in English football.

Jeff Shi and Fosun have learnt from their mistakes and created an environment in which quality is favoured over quantity, recognising that the blood and thunder brand of football their first two managerial recruits favoured is unlikely to cut the mustard in an increasingly difficult division.

Much has been made by the national media of the way they have gone about doing this but the team already seems to have found a way of harbouring the animosity offered by opposition supporters into a winning incentive. I guess that’s not so difficult to do when you have players of Ruben Neves and Diogo Jota’s ilk to call upon.

Both were on the score sheet tonight, with the former likely to win much of the plaudits for the sheer audacity of his 30 yard screamer. Football purists may, however, give greater credence to our second goal which was the result of some sumptuous build-up play that was once again centred by the prodigious and increasingly effective Bright Enobakahre. Either way, it’s nice to have the dilemma of picking a favourite winning goal given that they have been in such scant supply over the last two seasons.

Equally as important as our attacking play is the new defensive resolve that has been instilled within the team, which saw them withstand plenty of pressure in the second period. John Ruddy and Willy Boly were the names doing the rounds on social media come full time but all of our new look back five are doing their bit at present, as are the midfield duo of Neves and a rejuvenated Roman Saiss.

History will tell you that a water tight defence and clinical attack – terms which have been used to describe us in these opening round of fixtures – is a recipe for success in the Championship so its hard to temper this feverish early season enthusiasm with memories of previous false dawns, despite logic suggesting this as the best course of action.

Another win on Saturday against a Cardiff City team also riding the crest of a wave would surely see logic put on the back burner for the foreseeable, which would be a most welcome state of affairs for Wolves fan to find ourselves in after the mundanity of seasons gone by.

Hull City 2 Wolves 1

Fair play to Carl Ikeme.

Wolves Hull 1

He wasn’t going to let this descend into another stalemate, offering up the opening goal with some exhibition butter fingers.

For many, including myself, it looked all but over after that early calamity so it was pleasing to see Wolves work their way back into the game.

And that’s exactly what they did. The equaliser wasn’t a goal out of nothing, it capped a strong 10 minute spell in which Hull were out-battled and out-maneuvered.

George Saville wasn’t going quietly into the night and was fortunate to stay on the pitch after one particularly messy tackle.

Jeremy Helan gave the team mobility to match the muscle and his cross was arched perfectly onto the reliable bonce of Dave Edwards.

Pleased to see him back out on the pitch too and doing what he does best, getting on the end of crosses to score important goals.

I think Kenny Jackett has been charitable in speeding up his return to the side in the hope of increasing his chances of making the Wales squad, but Edwards’ performance more than repaid the gesture.

On a side note, Chris Coleman would be bonkers not to include our long serving midfielder, given his work ethic and perhaps more importantly, ability to find the back of the net.

Conor Coady can count himself unlucky to be the man left out, but I think the inclusion of a willing forward runner gave the midfield more balance.

Danny Batth’s illness allowed two positive things to happen.

Dominic Iorfa was moved into the center of defence which is where I believe his future lies. Aside from a few typically leggy moments, I thought both he and Hause had good games.

The same can be said of Deslandes who slotted in effortlessly at left back and did very little wrong, save for one mistimed tackle that could and perhaps should have resulted in a spot kick.

But we’ll forgive him for that and I think we can forgive Wolves this unfortunate defeat, given that it took a wonderful free kick coupled with some horrible luck to prevent them making it seven games undefeated.

I’m steadfast in my belief no manager could get more out of this current group and we’ve seen in the performances that there’s a solid base to build from next season.

Kevin McDonald will be one chip to fetch a tidy sum when he’s inevitably cashed-in and hopefully that will allow us to bring in the one or two dynamic attacking players to compliment a competitive group.

And whatever this group is lacking the one thing you can’t accuse them of is not being competitive.

Hull City Vs Wolves Preview

Nice to be on Sky again.

Wolves Hull

It’s been over a month since our last fixture was moved to please the TV overlords, which is outrageous.

The nation will have built up an unquenchable thirst for our free-flowing brand of non-stop attacking football by now.

Mercifully it’s an away fixture against a top six team, so the emphasis isn’t on us to impress and more optimistically, we’ve generally performed better on our travels.

As the result is inconsequential to us, I hope for an entertaining affair.

Hull

1280px-Hull_City_Crest_2014.svgI thought the Tigers would go up automatically, but maybe they look better on paper?

The play-offs are sewn up despite just two wins in their last 10 matches, but a top two finish is now completely out of the question.

They’ve got experience and no little quality across their settled back four, so no surprise to see that only Middlesbrough (26) have conceded less than their 29. That’s 23 goals less than Wolves for further context.

Man-for-man they should be as good as anyone so must be considered strong contenders come May, but Steve Bruce will have to figure out why they haven’t turned up lately.

They’ve got easily winnable fixtures between now and then so no reason they shouldn’t rediscover some form in time for the important stuff.

Wolves

Another ugly goalless outing against Blackburn did little to enhance anyone’s prospects, with the possible exception of Carl Ikeme. Kenny Jackett acknowledged we need to do more going forward so I wonder if that will be reflected in his team selection?

Team for Hull

Doubtful.

With Kevin McDonald banished and seemingly never to return, Dave Edwards possibly still short of match fitness and the remainder not much better than what we’ve got, I’m not sure what he can or will do?

I’d bring Jeremy Helan back personally, as his mobility is a useful asset in an otherwise one-paced side. Le Fondre remains my most enticing forward option with little else to choose from.

Bright Enobakhare and Connor Hunte could and probably should be given some more game time, if we’re serious about using either consistently next season.

The gaffer

Predictions

We haven’t lost since our last televised away trip and please god let this be better than that non-performance at Boro.

If Hull get after us, I can only foresee defeat as there’s an obvious deficit in quality.

Therefore, despite their recent lull, it’s got to be a home win for me, but hopefully we can score and contribute to a decent contest.

2-1 Hull.

Up The Wolves!

Wolves 1 Hull City 1

With this lunchtime fixture approaching its 45 minute point and tummies beginning to rumble, we adjourned for our inaugural half-time pie of the season, to offset the taste of Nikica Jelavic’s deadlock breaking penalty…

McDonald

“We do have loads of pies but we can’t sell you any,” said the spotty beanpole behind the counter. “They’re not hot enough.”

“Not hot enough!” bellowed a starved old soul in the Billy Wright, slobbering at the rows of elusive pickings just metres from his fists. “You’ve only had four months to cook the bastards,” he roared, salivating at the wall of pastries like a prisoner behind bars.

The chap grudgingly opted for a rubbery, oversized sausage in a parched, undersized bun and chuntered at the injustice of it all.

Steak and kidney everywhere and not a crumb to eat…

A bit like Wolves’ opening day draw with Hull City when you think of it.

It wasn’t what we wanted and caused similar levels of frustration, but a point gave us something to get our teeth into at least.

Like that batch of Balti pies, the chances flashed in front of our wide-open mouths, with Afobe and Dicko tantalisingly close to goals in the opening two minutes.

Judging by Steve Bruce’s body language on the sideline, there was only one team in this fixture as we continued to press our opponents before passing and moving around the pitch to suggest we were the recent Premier League incumbents.

We were great.

The energetic Edwards impersonated the great Gazza of ’96 by sliding for a tap-in, only to miss the ball by a coat of boot dubbin.

Conor Coady shimmered in Old Gold and McDonald looked immaculate alongside. In a narrower formation, Iorfa and Golbourne caught the eye.

But almost inevitably, Hull City scored with their only shot on target, when Kortney Hause’s needless shove assisted Jelavic for his penalty.

Thankfully, justice prevailed in the second half.

Tigers keeper Allan McGregor, villain of the piece for such nauseating levels of timewasting (from the 25th minute onwards), flapped a harmless Dicko cross behind him under no pressure, with the grateful James Henry gobbling up a tap-in like a pie-starved native in WV6.

From then on, Wolves continued to press and looked the more likely to win, with Afobe outstripping Dawson and electing not to shoot with the goal nearing.

Dicko then flashed a header across goal when most of the 20,000 expected the net to bulge.

And a well worked corner almost bore fruit with an Afobe shot being cleared off the line.

James Henry was also wild on two occasions when well placed inside the box.

But as the clock ticked down, the boys began to tire.

The classy Meyler exploited space in midfield. Striker Akpom was a livewire. Jelavic thumped the post. Scambles ensued. Martinez – in for Ikeme in a pre-match talking point – saved in between.

But when few fans grumbled at Andre Marriner’s mystifying decision to add just two minutes of injury time, you sensed we were all happy to wipe our mouths and take what was given, ahead of our QPR test on Wednesday night.

Hopefully the pies will have warmed up by then.

The gaffer

Wolves Vs Hull City Preview

Two out of two ain’t bad.

Bruce

Yeah, both victories owed a thick old dollop of credit to lady luck, but winning is winning.

What we also saw against Blackburn and against Newport are the shoots of promise if Wolves can put it all together.

There have been good spells of possession and some smart finishing from our strikers albeit with some questionable defending in between.

Tighten up at the back, use the ball a bit more effectively in the final third and we could really be rocking.

Sunday promises to be a good early indicator of where we sit in the grand scheme of the Championship hurly-burly.

Hull City

1280px-Hull_City_Crest_2014.svgThis time last year most people were waxing lyrical about the business Hull had done in the transfer window to help them push on in the Premier League.

It just goes to show that names on a piece of paper are just that and a major recruitment drive doesn’t necessarily equal success.

Steve Bruce has had to be active again over the summer to replace those jumping ship after relegation. Robbie Brady and James Chester are amongst those who departed for big money.

Arsenal striker Chuka Akpom has come in on loan, £3.5 million has been splashed out on Brentford full back Moses Odubajo and their hot on the trail of Bees forward Andre Gray for reported silly money.

They’ve also got some Premier League names down the spine of the team like Tom Huddlestone, Michael Dawson and Nikica Jelavic.

Again, you’d have to say they look mightily strong on paper.

Wolves

Some of the midweek changes were surprising (e.g. Matt Doherty playing in midfield), some were more obvious. Sheyi Ojo made the strongest case for a start but I think he’ll find himself back on the bench.

Hull team

The two positions I see as being interchangeable are the wide players. There’s no doubt Kenny wants to be cuter and more compact in his approach this season.

We’re going to see a midfielder tucked inside a lot of the time, which will likely be Dave Edwards or Jed Wallace when fit.

I think we’ll always have at least one out and out winger on the pitch, only introducing another if we’re behind in matches.

That means we’ll have to be more patient in our build up play, but it should allow us to be more compact defensively. I see the logic, but still need to be convinced it can be consistently effective.

The gaffer

Predictions

I showed too little faith against Blackburn and perhaps a bit too much against Newport, so it makes sense to sit somewhere in the middle this time.

Hull will be right at the top of the league all season so I expect a tough game, but I’m sure this is a fixture they themselves will have identified as being tough.

I don’t think we’ll keep them out, but I fancy our strikers against anyone, so will give us a third straight narrow victory.

2-1

Up The Wolves!

Wolves 1 Hull City 0

Doctors will tell you a terminally ill patient often shows signs of improvement right before succumbing to their fate.

Wolves Hull

Whether this encouraging display of resistance proves to be that false dawn or a decisive step towards salvation, Molineux was just happy to be alive.

Tongo Doumbia rose from his sick bed to make the difference, covering more ground in 90 minutes than Jamie O’Hara has managed all season.

The rangy Malian was everywhere, putting in the sort of all-action performance we’ve forgotten a Wolves midfielder is capable of. He made the goal too, robbing possession in the City half, allowing Bjorn Sigurdarson to execute the killer pass.

Kevin Doyle made the finish look easy, slotting home only his eighth goal of the season, albeit his third winning strike in four Molineux appearances.

Doyle, ploughing a lone furrow up front, seemed to thrive from then on, reminding us how effective he can be in competing for those high, hanging shells down field.

Stephen Hunt was another to grow stronger with Wolves in the ascendancy, shutting down Hull’s options and causing untold nuisance value. His two surges forward should have resulted in a goal and a penalty, but as always we were left to suffer.

The back four will be encouraged by a rare cleansheet.

Credit Roger Johnson for heading everything away. His distribution remains woeful, but you couldn’t question his commitment.

Doherty, at fault for Huddersfield’s equalier on Saturday, put that disappointment behind him to register a solid performance, culminating in a crucial late tackle to halt Jay Simpon’s run on goal.

Mercifully, on the only occasion our defence was truly breached, Simpson and the post were kind to us. I felt we merited that good fortune.

Dean Saunders too deserved the luck. His team selection was just about spot on.

The shape of the team restricted forward progress in the first half, but gave us a solid platform to work from for a change. By the end we were handsomely rewarded.

We now head to the Valley resuscitated, still very much on life support, but dreaming of a discharge from intensive care.