Wolves 2 Northampton Town 3

If Kenny Jackett isn’t as enraged as the skies were at the moment a freak monsoon drenched us at 7.40pm, then he has every right to be.

Wolves Northampton

The Chris Wood deal dead in the water, Northampton Town singing in the rain and his League Cup runneth o’er with bile as three wonderfully worked first half goals were chalked off for offside.

On another night, his half time team-talk would have been simple, with his side deservedly 3-0 up against a Cobblers team who were presumably told to seize the day, such was the freak substance of a night like this.

From our long distance vantage point away from the North Bank goal, it was impossible to tell if all three decisions were correct or not, but both Leon Clarke’s finishes – from well worked positions – appeared to arrive from behind the play when the ball was initially played. I could be wrong (and presume I am).

When Jacobs arrived to slot home a third disallowed effort shortly afterwards, you sensed it was one of those evenings.

Not once, twice, but three times my sodden jeans sent a cold, constricting cuddle to my thighs as I stood to cheer, only to sit back down and shiver at the discomfort that simply wasn’t warranted.

Northampton Town boss Chris Wilder must have given a pep-talk to exceed his wildest dreams as his side snuffed out our architect Michael Jacobs in the second period, who became so significantly anonymous.

With momentum swirling in the sky like a miserable big raincloud, Cobblers struck past the worryingly porous McCarey and that was the start of the deluge.

A soft goal from a corner – featuring no man on the far post – made it 2-0 and despite an instant rally when Dicko (x1) and Sako came off the bench, Kenny Jackett’s footballing umbrella was turned inside out when an even poorer goal was conceded through a combined cock-up between Ricketts (x1) and McCarey, who stood and watched as Northampton’s D’Ath won it.

On another day things might have been different for Kenny Jackett, who deserved this outcome as much as any waterlogged fan caught cold on Waterloo Road.

Life at Molineux is seldom so straightforward.

Player ratings

McCarey: Poor. All three goals arguably preventable but more worryingly, his lack of presence more noticeable. Don’t get injured Ikeme! 5

Doherty: Good going forward, space occasionally exploited behind him as we pushed to get back in the game. 6

Ricketts: Good goal to equalise, but can’t have been pleased in his part for Northampton’s third. 6

Ebanks-Landell: Not a great game as he failed to dominate physically as Batth so usually does. Not a ready-made replacement on this showing. 5

Stearman: A fair game, but a completely different proposition without his Brierley Hill battler alongside. 6

Henry: Always a willing outlet but the end product missing, as appeared to be a yard of pace to really hurt Northampton. Subbed. 6

Evans: Ultimately a poor game on second period showing. Flattered to deceive and in a game you’d expect him to grab by the scruff of the neck, he didn’t. Occasionally sloppy. 5

Price: Like Evans, you expect him to boss the midfield against League 2 opponents. Failed to do so and was too often anonymous. 5

Jacobs: Great first half, shackled completely during the second. The game hinged on this. 6

McAlinden: Set-up both goals during his best spell of the game. A clear outlet and looks visibly quicker and stronger. Got their right back subbed who couldn’t control him. Faded. Subbed. 7

Clarke: I’m in a minority to feel for Leon. Should be reflecting on two good goals having occupied their centre halves well. A linesman’s flag denied him and he looked typically unhappy when subbed. Rotten luck in my opinion, which doesn’t bode well for a guy already short on the stuff. 6

Subs:

Dicko: Injection of pace up top livened the affair and took his goal well. Another we can’t afford to lose through injury. 7

Sako: Typically lively and should really have hit the target to make it 3-3 after an Evans through ball. 6

Edwards: Not a great deal of time to do a lot. 6

The gaffer

Northampton Town 1 Wolves 3

If you can make nine changes to your starting eleven and still run out convincing winners, there are definite reasons to be cheerful.

Now that’s what I call Clack!

Only Carl Ikeme and David Davis remained from Saturday’s snore-draw against Derby, with Ståle’s new boys taking center stage.

And come full time, this was very much Solbakken’s Wolves.

Sigurdarson and Nouble up front, Sako and Peszko on the wings, Doumbia in the middle, Margreitter at the back.

Times are a changing and if the second half is anything to go by, probably for the best.

Passing to feet, moving the opposition around quickly, opening up spaces. Much like the Barnsley game, plenty of encouraging signs.

Bakary Sako’s venomous drive was the icing on the cake and dare I say it, the sort of no-nonsense goal Matt Jarvis just wasn’t capable of scoring. Ball into feet, shift, bang. Welcome to Wolves.

Razak Boukari was also impressive, offering pace, trickery and a definite eye for a pass as demonstrated with an inch-perfect through ball for David Davis.

Will both of those players start on Sunday? I’d like to think so.

It’s harder to judge Georg Margreitter, as he wasn’t asked many questions, but I suppose the fact he came through the game unnoticed suggests he coped comfortably. Sterner tests await and it will be intriguing to see if Solbakken throws him straight in against Cardiff.

The two forwards also stood out. Nouble in particular deserved his goal and showed not only great physical strength, but also composure with the ball at his feet.

In an opening 45 where we struggled to string together more than two passes before hoofing long, both he and Sigurdarson showed great appetite.

Scrappy would be a kind adjective to use in describing that first half, accentuated by the two goals we bundled over the line.

Northampton’s equaliser was familiar territory. A cross not cut out down the left and a forward finding too much space in the middle to plant a header in the corner.

Like Saturday, we seemed to be lacking any sort of creativity through the middle, so I’d like think we’ll see at least one new signing before the day is out to rectify this problem.

But credit to Wolves, after the break when the game did open up, they really put their foot on the pedal, with the only disappointing aspect being that it took until stoppage time to sew the game up.

The young players like Forde and Davis, who was much improved from Saturday, also seemed to grow into the game and help control the play. That was a pleasant bonus.

As for our aspirations of progressing further in the competition, Chelsea away wasn’t the ideal draw, but it’s a plum tie all the same and a great test.

And who knows, we might even be on TV again?

Northampton Town Vs Wolves Preview

Ståle Solbakken could probably have done without a midweek cup game to contend with as Molineux’s revolving door continues to spin ahead of Friday’s transfer deadline.

Undefeated thus far

Since last Friday, it’s mercifully been a case of reinforcements arriving rather than troops jumping ship as we welcome Razak Boukari and Bakary Sako to the fold.

If you believe what you see on YouTube, they should bring pace and creativity to the side, two things desperately lacking from the weekend’s disappointing performance against Derby.

Relevant clearance permitting, both of those players should make their debut at Northampton tomorrow as Wolves look to advance in the League Cup. Defender Georg Margreitter is also inline for his first appearance.

League Two Northampton, now managed by Aidy Boothroyd, have enjoyed a solid start. With 3 draws and a win in the league thus far as well as a fantastic first round cup win over Cardiff, they’re undefeated heading into this match and hungry for another upset.

Wolves of course went to Sixfields last season at the same stage and won 4-0. Ebanks-Blake (2), Milijas and Sam Vokes were all on the scoresheet in that one. I remember looking at our squad after that win and thinking how much strength in depth we had. Oh well.

Wolves

I’m expecting the starting eleven in this game to consist of new signings and players in and around the first team squad. This is the sort of thing I mean:

Starting the two forwards is surely a no-brainer? I’d like to see what they can both do from the start, particularly if there’s a chance Doyle could leave before Friday. Someone has to fill the void.

If the three new lads can play, it would be nice to see them get a run out. The likes of Elokobi, Stearman and Davis should also benefit from a run out.

Opposition view

Thanks to Danny from A Load of Cobblers:

Aidy Boothroyd has mentioned that fringe players may get a chance. With a trip to Plymouth coming two days after this match there could be a fair bit of chopping and changing from the Town boss.

On paper it’s another potential upset for the Cobblers but I can see this being just as much of a challenge as last season and we’ll have to be well on our game to come close. I would imagine Wolves would field a stronger side than Cardiff City did a few weeks ago and the best we can hope for will probably be a shot at extra-time. I’ll go for a 1-1 draw after ninety minutes!

Predictions

No PL points at stake for this one, but just for fun I’ll tip us to edge through 2-1.

I’d like to say the performance is more important than the result, but I’ll be disappointed if we get knocked out.

Either way, what happens off the pitch over the next two days is probably going to be a lot more telling for the season ahead than what happens on it.

Up The Wolves.