The only thing Kenny Jackett learnt in the first half of last night’s third straight pre-season victory was the magnitude of the task he’s undertaken.
Outplayed and out-classed by a Conference side that showed the greater appetite and invention, there were major issues for the manager to evaluate throughout his young Wolves side.
With George Elokobi at the heart of the defence, calamity is never too far away. Dedicated and likeable he may be, but sure of foot he is not. Countless times simple passes were miscontrolled and crosses shinned in no particular direction.
Danny Batth too was out of sorts in a scruffy first 45, which saw Wolves fall behind thanks to a simple free kick routine that caught them completely off guard.
Wayne Hennessey would have been disappointed to see the shot defeat him at the near post, but he was otherwise comfortable enough on his return to first team action.
Bakary Sako provided the only moments of attacking menace for Wolves in a dismal first half, spanking a shot at goal from 25 yards out that the Wrexham keeper did well to palm over.
Moments later, the Frenchman was hobbling off with a hamstring injury and the 600 strong away contingent were left wondering who could possibly spark the comeback.
Thankfully, in Leigh Griffiths Wolves have a genuine match winner. Lively but unrewarded in the opening exchanges, the Scot took the game away from the Welsh side with a livewire second half performance.
Moments after his smart run and cross from the left saw Jake Cassidy fluff his lines in front of goal, Griffiths repeated the trick on the opposite flank with his strike partner dispatching at the second time of asking.
The winner arrived moments later with Griffiths running at defenders before angling a low (slightly tame) shot into the opposite corner.
It was the first time I’d seen the striker and I was impressed with his neat control and relentless running. He was the only player constantly looking to make something happen and as the game opened up, he was finally able to do the damage.
After carving out both goals, he had countless other strikes on target, swung a handful of dangerous corners into the box and even rose between two defenders for a powerful headed effort that unfortunately went straight at the keeper.
He was direct, confident and in the faces of the opposition, all things we’ve lacked from our strikers for longer than I can remember.
Alongside him Liam McAlinden toiled, barely able to get a touch of the ball. The more physical presence of Jake Cassidy was an improvement after the break, but Bjorn Sigurdarson remains the player I’d most like to see lining up at Preston.
Overall, it wasn’t a great night for our young hopefuls.
Lee Evans, alongside the combative David Davis in midfield, struggled to cope against eager opposition on a bobbling surface. But credit to him for persevering. When gaps began to appear he exploited them with some accurate, raking passes.
Jack Price, still being asked to operate out wide despite preferring a central role, was enthusiastic but largely anonymous in his 45 minute cameo.
Anthony Forde, a more natural wide player showed glimpses of pace and trickery but was let down by his final ball. He could certainly be one to watch this season though.
As much as they’ve been lambasted in recent times, our senior pros helped turn this game in our favour. Dave Edwards played the second half down the right flank and without being spectacular put a foot on the ball and calmed things down.
Richard Stearman, replacing the hapless Elokobi, brought about a marked improvement in our defensive fortunes. On this evidence, he and Batth must be nailed on to start at Deepdale.
And finally skipper Sam Ricketts looked strong and confident throughout. His ability to use both feet and find neat passes out of defence is a real asset. I’m surprised Bolton let him go.
A pleasing conclusion then after an abysmal start. Barnsley on Saturday will provide a more thorough examination. A similar half-baked first half there and I doubt we’ll be able to maintain our 100% pre-season record.