Wolves 0 Shrewsbury Town 0

You really can’t win them all.

Sako Shrewsbury

And as the victory marathon had to end sometime, a stalemate against a determined and well organised young Shrewsbury side isn’t the worst conclusion I could have envisaged.

Swathed in the Molineux sunshine, our Shropshire neighbours excelled as they packed the midfield, doubled up on Wolves’ most influential talents and frustrated the life out of an expectant home crowd.

A high level of motivation indeed, which makes you wonder just how they find themselves contemplating a return to League Two football?

Wolves were able to pick the lock on occasion but shots were too often scuffed wide (most from Sako) and crosses always drifted agonosingly out of reach.

It’s thin margins because if one of those openings had been seized upon, the comfort of victory we’ve grown accustomed to would likely have been delivered.

So as thoroughly exasperating as it was to see Wolves thwarted in their attempts for a perfect ten, I struggle to find fault with their efforts.

As the game progressed and Shrewsbury retreated to their 18 yard box, McDonald, Jacobs and Sako tried all manner of methods to batter down the door.

McDonald in particular I thought was majestic for the final half hour, driving the team forward and constantly upping the tempo.

But without the calming influence and attacking prowess of Sam Ricketts, our approach work was much less expansive with all the thrust coming down the left.

That made the pitch seem narrower and played into the hands of opposition dogged in their plan to crowd, hassle and harry.

Leon Clarke’s inevitable introduction failed to conjure up the impact we all hoped it would, as the forward was a too often peripheral figure, wasting the sort of chance he was brought in to score, with a close range flick that landed tamely in the goalkeeper’s lap.

Shrewsbury could have won it themselves, breaking away in the latter stages but never making the most of the opportunities.

They also forced the only two real saves of the game out of Carl Ikeme either side of half-time in a performance that will give them great encouragement for the challenges to come.

For Wolves, Kenny’s succinct summary says it best, ‘we move on’.

Wolves Vs Shrewsbury Town Preview

Whatever happens in our remaining games, we already know that history will remember this current Wolves side.

Wolves Shrewsbury

Deservedly so too.

It was stated by some that we were expected to reign supreme like this for the duration, but as we saw earlier in the season, the advantage of greater resources only comes into play when used wisely.

Wolves had to stumble through the first half of this campaign, relying on the profligacy of others to keep in touch at the top.

But even when they got their act together in mid-December, performances didn’t always deliver results. A one point return from dominant displays against Gillingham and Leyton Orient underlining the fact.

So for this team to wrack up 9 wins on the bounce, overcoming a variety of opposition using all manner of tactics as well as Kenny’s much-talked about ‘high motivation levels’, is a remarkable achievement.

Shrewsbury

ShrewsburyA glance at the table suggests Wolves will never have a better chance to claim a tenth consecutive league win. The Shrews are languishing down in 23rd place, just two points off the bottom.

Their away form is bad, but perhaps not as bad as their league position would suggest. They’ve lost eight of their sixteen away matches thus far, but claimed three wins and five draws.

Scoring goals has been the major problem and the 34 they’ve managed this season represents the lowest of any team in League One. Liam McAlinden scored three of those goals in his nine game loan spell prior to the new year.

A 1-1 draw with Crawley kept them within touching distance of safety and an unlikely win at Molineux tomorrow could see them climb out of the relegation zone.

Wolves

Sam Ricketts is reportedly a minor doubt for this one. I’d like to see the same XI again of course, but if the skipper doesn’t make it, then Matt Doherty is a more than capable replacement.

Wolves team for Shrewsbury

Great to see Leon Clarke come on and get his first goal in his second spell at the club in midweek. A very well taken goal it was too. His confidence should be high whenever he’s called upon for this one.

I just wonder whether Kenny might look at this game and consider making a few changes? The likes of Doherty, Clarke and maybe even Dave Edwards could be a given a start to save legs ahead of another midweek away fixture at Crawley.

The odds

Wolves are massive favourites to make it ten in a row at 1/3. The draw is a generous 9/2 and an away win is as unlikely 10/1. A good week for insurance betters.

Jack Price and Sam Ricketts are the only two outfield players yet to score for Wolves this season. If you fancy either of them to correct that with the first goal tomorrow, they’re 14/1 and 25/1 respectively.

All odds can be found here.

The gaffer

Predictions

I had my work cut out this morning adding all the PL points to the overall table from the last three matches. Suffice to say, most people added to their tallies.

A particular well done to Dalmation Wolf who got the scores bang on in our last two historic wins. No mean feat when you consider the 3-0 and 4-1 scorelines in those matches.

This weekend I’m backing us to win, hopefully by a comfortable margin again. It’s imperative we do so as well with Leyton Orient and/or Brentford guaranteed to drop points. A draw or a Leyton Orient win probably the best result from that game I’d say.

Derby or no derby, Wolves have the better players and unless we do something very stupid, I just can’t see us not winning again.

3-0.

Up The Wolves!

Shrewsbury Town 0 Wolves 1

Football matches are so often decided by the finest of margins.

Wolves Shrewsbury

And with the exception of Tuesday night’s defeat, Wolves have developed the rather useful knack of gaining the edge.

Shrewsbury must wonder quite how Curtis Main failed to convert from underneath the crossbar as the home side seemed destined to break the deadlock.

Had the on loan Middlesbrough striker been less charitable, Wolves would almost certainly be nursing morale-sapping, back-to-back defeats.

But where Main failed from a yard, Sako succeeded from 12 to ensure his side continued to hang on the coattails of the early pacesetters.

Was it a penalty?

Without the benefit of Sky technology, only Jon Taylor probably knows. He remains defiant (via Twitter):

Jon Taylor Tweet

Correct or not though, it’s pleasing that Wolves were able to force the decision by continuing to push forward late on.

Matt Doherty deserves the plaudits for his powerful, goal-bound header that forced Taylor into action. He’s deceptively strong in the air and always shows an appetite to get on the end of things.

Bjorn Sigurdarson is another aerial threat and he was unlucky to see a smart header come back off the post from an inch perfect Scott Golbourne cross.

Sako too was unlucky, forcing a smart save with an instinctive shot from the edge of the area to once again demonstrate the importance of getting him into the right areas.

The confident manner in which he dispatched the spot-kick shouldn’t be ignored either. Unlike many, I find it impossible to be critical of a player that always tries to make something happen, even when it goes spectacularly wrong.

Carl Ikeme was again central to the action with a succession of smart saves and neat handling to earn his third cleansheet of the season.

Given Shrewsbury’s dominance in periods, some would call this ‘smash and grab’ while others might suggest it was the perfect away performance.

Me? I’m just happy with the result, regardless of the margin.

Video highlights

Shrewsbury Town Vs Wolves Preview

Tuesday wasn’t a pleasant experience.

Shrewsbury

And the most disappointing aspect was that Walsall didn’t have to play particularly well for the win.

A home defeat had been coming but to lose without creating a single chance from open play was very poor.

But we move on and it will be fascinating to see how both Kenny Jackett and his young team respond to the first major setback of the season.

When you’re chasing promotion the key is to not let one bad result become the start of a run. We know from last season how quickly things can turn sour.

Shrewsbury

Graham Turner will be satisfied with his team’s start to the season, sitting comfortably in midtable on eight points.

The Shrews finished 16th last season, but comfortably avoided the drop. I wonder if their ambitions stretch further this season?

They’re yet to lose at the New Meadow in the league with a win and two draws from their three homes matches.

I’ll hold my hand up and admit complete ignorance on their playing squad. Looking down their teamsheets I don’t spot any immediately familiar names.

But young forward Tom Bradshaw has three goals to his name so far and will definitely be one to watch out for.

I do know that they’re a very young, inexperienced side, so it’s important Wolves get on top of them early and ask questions.

Wolves

I’d like to see a return to 442 for this one. I think KJ has over complicated matters of late, trying to find a solution to our gaping midfield. But with two strikers and two proper wide men we’ve already seen we can put teams on the back foot. This would be my XI:

Wolves team for Shrewsbury

That team solves a major problem we encountered on Tuesday, namely: a chronic lack of width.

I’d like to see Sako playing properly in front of Golbourne, not tucked inside. The full back seemed reluctant to try and make a yard for a cross so we can’t rely on him to put decent balls into the box. I also don’t want to see Sako playing all his football on the halfway line. We want him in the final third.

Ismail must play. Yes, he’s lightweight and gets caught in possession, but every other option has so far failed. I also believe that with an investment of games, Zeli will rapidly improve.

Two strikers please Kenny. Any two will do from Doyle/Griffiths/Siggy but play them both properly up front.

The odds

I guess Wolves will be favourites in most games this season and theme continues in this time. They’re at evens to get a win.

Shrewsbury are 3/1 and the draw is available at 13/5.

Kevin McDonald is decent odds for the first goal at 14/1. He’s a lovely footballer to watch and I’d love to see him getting forward more. I could not believe he was taken off against Walsall. Lunacy.

All odds are available from here.

Predictions

Walsall winning on Tuesday made my life a lot easier, as only 5 people scored points in the PL.

Tettenhall Wolf, BobbaWolf, TwixFix, AmberWolf and Rich all thought Wolves would come a cropper, but none got the scoreline correct, so it’s singles all round.

I’ll sit on the fence and plump for a draw this time. I’d like to see us bounce back with a convincing win, but I just wonder how much confidence has been shaken of late.

2-2.

Up The Wolves.

Shrewsbury Town 2 Wolves 2

Somewhat regrettably, no longer Gay, but Shrewsbury’s now Greenhous Meadow was full of good spirit, if the hordes of travelling Wolves supporters were anything to go by.

And they needed all their good humour in the first half as the Wolves starting eleven were put to the sword. The manager had clearly selected his weaker side to start the match, with the exception of Dorus De Vries  in goal. And if the logic of this was the expectation that the keeper would have more to do behind this team, it was logic that Mr.Spock himself would have been proud of.

The newly promoted Division 1 team outplayed and outran our midfield four of Hunt, Jonnson, Milijas and Edwards and opened up our back four of Foley, Batth, Berra and Doherty with consumate ease. To such an extent in fact that the goading home support  demanded after the first goal (no doubt encouraged by our large ‘Wrexham Wolves’  flag), “Are you Wrexham in disguise?” Not to be out-done, our boys countered with a valiant “Your Welsh and you know it”, not altogether pleasing my Abergavenny born wife sat next to me.

Things proceeded  to get worse as this time our right flank was exposed. Batth seemed to show the attacker  towards the goal rather than away from it and his shot rebounded in of a somewhat  unlucky Berra.

Our support had now obviously decided humour was the only option. “Yes, we are Wrexham in disguise!” they bellowed.

In truth, it was a pretty awful first half performance. Plus points were few. Batth, for a young lad, did quite well and Sigurdason  up front showed glimpses of real pace and ability although the supply from midfield was so poor, he had very little chance to shine. His big partner up front Frank Nouble showed a first touch which went some way in explaining his free transfer status. Big and powerful with some pace perhaps but a long way from the finished article. Maybe one for the future, but plenty of work to be done.

Our defence looked fragile as usual and I don’t see any of them starting at Leeds.

Probably the most disappointing of all was the midfield quartet; slow, ponderous and ineffective. Dave Edwards did ok out on the right but, with so many others available in midfield, I don’t see a place for any of them really.

But if the first half was worrying, the second offered huge promise as an entirely new eleven took the field.

Johnson and Stearman were decisive and solid in the centre of defence. Zubar and Ward offered attacking threat  from the back (although still worrying defensively)  and Forde and Davies performed well on the flanks. Doyle looked re-motivated and back somewhere near his best. SEB took his chance well, although he still looks somewhat over weight. Yes SEB , I have to say, your bum did look big in this!

But the huge, huge plus was the central midfield pairing of Henry and Doumbia who controlled and dominated proceedings. I know this was only 45 minutes against lower division opposition, but all Wolves fans get very excited, we have unearthed an absolute gem. This boy had it all. 6’ 3”, strong, powerful, pacy, box to box and oodles and oodles of skill. Forget about ping pong or whatever his name was, this guy is hard ball.

Our first goal resulted when he won a ball he had no right to with a shuddering tackle. The second when he won the ball again, skipped pasted  defenders in the box and buried exquisitely in the top right corner. A finish any top striker would have been proud of. Year-long loan?

No way.  Sign him now, whatever it takes!