Wolves 2 Notts County 0

Notts County striker Jimmy Spencer gave his local rag the kind of sparkling soundbite every journalist dreams about last week.

Wovles Notts County

When asked about his side’s prospects ahead of their visit to Molineux, he nonchalantly replied ‘It’s a harder game this week, but Wolves aren’t Real Madrid, are they?’

I wonder if he thought about the comment yesterday as he exited the field after being substituted on the hour mark?

By that time Michael Jacobs had deservedly steered another game in the home side’s favour with two goals fit for Bernabeu consumption.

The first, a rising header after a slick passing move that resulted in Scott Golbourne lifting a perfectly weighted cross into his path.

The second, a thunderous low drive that exploited the tightest of spaces between goalkeeper and post following a brilliant interception and forward dash from Richard Stearman.

And two should really have been four or five.

The resurgent Bakary Sako twice channeled Roberto Carlos with missiles that only instinctive saves from the County keeper could repel.

Nouha Dicko, again impressive as the lone forward, was uncharacteristically wasteful when presented with a tap-in by his French compatriot.

James Henry too, intelligently darting in behind a static County defence couldn’t find the finish his smart run warranted.

All afternoon the chances flowed like Sangria as Wolves showed the far greater attacking menace in a match that wasn’t always one-way traffic.

Shaun Derry’s side took an equal share of the possession and spent the last twenty minutes camped inside the opposition’s half.

But whilst the hosts peppered the County goal with 18 shots, the away team could only muster one effort on target all afternoon.

And that’s the difference.

Kenny Jackett has cleverly engineered a Wolves side that play with both precision and purpose. It’s lovely to watch.

Still, Callum McGrefgor and Jack Grealish could have spoiled the party had either managed to hit the target with glorious chances in either half.

It’s unlikely Brentford will be as forgiving next week. But with Wolves playing their best football of the season, the Bees will have just as much to fear.

And it’s not like they’re Bayern Munich is it?

Highlights

Wolves Vs Notts County Preview

I was at Meadow Lane back in November to see Wolves secure a narrow 1-0 victory.

Wolves Notts County

That was a period in the season when the performances weren’t particularly inspiring, but the results were still coming.

But it was actually a 20-minute spell in the second half of that game that I first started to feel truly encouraged about what Kenny Jackett was building.

McDonald started to get on the ball and dictate play,  Golbourne was bombing forward and the likes of Sako and Henry were creating chances for the forwards.

It certainly wasn’t a complete performance, but you could clearly see the intention for neat, possession-based football. We were just a few players short of doing it efficiently.

Fast forward to now and we have filled the holes and look a very good team, by League One standards at least.

Notts County

Notts_County_LogoFortunately, I didn’t go to the other fixture between these two sides, which was the Johnstones Paint Trophy stalemate at Molineux that ended in penalty shootout win for County.

Wolves were woeful that evening and would have lost the game in regulation time had it not been for a string of Carl Ikeme saves.

But that victory for County was a rare highlight of a disappointing first half of the season. They’ve changed manager since, brought in a shed load of loan signings and are now a completely different proposition.

Result have been mixed of late, including a 5-1 home defeat to Walsall, a narrow 4-3 loss against Peterborough, but most recently a solid 3-0 victory over Coventry.

The Magpies easily have the worst away record, with 12 defeats from 16 games to date and only 2 wins. They have firepower though, in the shape of midfielder and Wolves-target Callum McGregor, currently on loan from Celtic.

Wolves

Carl Ikeme could feature tomorrow after returning from injury. I’d be happy to see him back between the sticks, but equally have confidence in Aaron McCarey, whose done little wrong in his clutch of appearances.

Wolves team for Crawley

Others that could come into contention for a start are James Henry, Lee Evans and Matt Doherty (I think he’s back in the squad). But I don’t the above eleven will be far off.

With so many games to come in March, the strength of the squad will be severely tested. Although we have the above options waiting in the wings, I’d worry if we lost the likes of McDonald and Dicko for any period of time. I’m sure KJ will be dipping into the loan market.

The gaffer

The odds

Wolves are strong favourites for the win at 9/20. County are a favourable 15/2. A £1 bet on any County win returns £8.50, so if you’re feeling pessimistic, this is a good game to put that insurance policy in place.

Nouha Dicko is the most likely first goalscorer at 15/4. The prolific (of late) Kevin McDonald is 7/1, while Callum McGregor is 11/1.

All odds are available from here.

Predictions

No game last weekend so no PL points. I’ve updated the table so please do make sure you have the points you think you should have. Email me any errors via the contact page.

I don’t think County are as bad a team now as their overall position suggests. As Kenny said in his pre-match interview, they’ve used the loan market well and have some useful players.

Still, I think if Wolves play well, as they have been of late, I can only see one outcome.

3-1

Up The Wolves

Notts County 0 Wolves 1

I’m used to watching Wolves from way up high.

Notts County away

So to find myself situated pitch side in the Jimmy Sirrel stand, no more than a George Elokobi throw-in from the action, made for a slightly surreal matchday experience.

Up close and personal you take in a much tighter, compact game, seeing players you’ve sat and judged countless times before in a totally different light.

Scott Golbourne caught the eye, strutting confidently up and down the line second half, always a yard quicker than the opposition.

The full-back’s reading of the game, his neat control and ability to thread a pass, made him a standout performer in what was mostly a bitty and fractious affair.

Ethan Ebanks-Landell wasn’t so imperious and at times his full debut made for uncomfortable front row viewing as Jamal Campbell Rice continually turned the screw.

But credit the youngster, he kept at it and after robbing his nemesis of possession just prior to the interval, saw out the remainder of the game in relative comfort.

His finish wasn’t too shabby either, sweeping home a loose ball to send his side top after a handful of senior teammates had squandered better chances.

He’s not a full-back, there’s no escaping the fact and if he is to have a long term future at the club, it must be in the middle where his build and skillset are more suitably matched.

Much like Landell, the team’s collective performance was sluggish at the outset but found another gear midway through the second half to wrestle away the points.

Meadow Lane

Leigh Griffiths was a major factor in the upward trajectory. His omission from the starting eleven in favour of Jake Cassidy and an extra body in midfield was a great source of frustration amongst the away contingent.

Cassidy cut an isolated figure for most of the first half, but forced a decent save from the keeper with a smart turn and low drive from the edge of the box.

The Welsh forward will be disappointed with his second half, twice failing to convert clear chances and toiling with his general play. Griffiths was sharper and his smart runs in behind opened the door for the likes of James Henry to bomb forward.

Henry was again our best attacking outlet, creating clear chances that Griffiths and Cassidy should have converted. If his late injury proves serious, Kenny Jackett has a sizable void to fill.

But the gaffer will be pleased to have come through another stern test with maximum points, despite being without key personnel.

A run of tough winter fixtures await, so hopefully League One’s new front runners are like me, more comfortable from up high.

Highlights

Reaction

Talking Point

Did the win justify Kenny Jackett’s decision to start with just one forward and leave top scorer Leigh Griffths on the bench?