Sobering defeat for WolvesBy: DJ | September 2nd, 2012
The hopes that the Solbakken project could produce a fast return to the Premier League looked a long way away at Cardiff today as Wolves were well beaten and in truth went down with a bit of a whimper. On the day they looked vulnerable in defence, particularly in the full back positions, looked slow and ponderous in their build up play, and had a toothless attack. It’s early days and a fortnight’s break to take stock of all the changes is probably just what is needed right now, but Wolves will have to do a lot better than this to be promotion contenders in the new year.
With Karl Henry and Kevin Foley still injured and Sigurdarsen, Magreitter and Boukari left out of the squad, it was a predictable starting 11 in a 4-4-2 formation with a league debut for Bakary Sako;
Zubar, Johnson, Berra, Ward
Peszko, Doumbia, Edwards, Sako
Doyle, Ebanks Blake
Cardiff started the brighter with their new signing from Brighton, Craig Noone, prominent in most of their attacks and he brought a good save out of Ikeme early on. But Wolves also had a debutant making a good impression with Sako knocking a couple of dangerous corners into the Cardiff area that were scrambled clear. And when Ebanks Blake was fouled 30 yards out on the right hand side, Sako stepped up to take the free kick and with everyone expecting a ball to the far post he curled a fine effort into the net at the near post.
But within three minutes Wolves were behind. Noone was sent free on the left and he turned to go inside Zubar and then switched back to the outside and the Wolves full back sent him tumbling for a blatant penalty. Whittingham converted easily, sending Ikeme the wrong way. Then three minutes later Maynard broke on the right and when he pulled the ball back to the edge of the box Whittingham was unmarked and was able to pick his spot to put the home team ahead. Smith shot just wide and then Noone was allowed to run half the length of the field before bringing a save out of Ikeme. Wolves went close only once when Ebanks Blake was sent through by Doyle and his shot across the face of the goal went just wide.
Wolves showed no improvement after the break and the game was sealed for the home team midway through the half when Whittingham completed his hat trick with an excellent free kick from 25 yards that gave Ikeme no chance. Cardiff withdrew Maynard and Noone to sit on their lead and that gave Wolves plenty of possession but in truth they rarely looked like getting back into the game. Peszko and Sako got a couple of dangerous crosses into the box but in general the build up play was painfully slow and caused the home team few problems. Nouble and Stearman replaced Edwards and Zubar and later Forde replaced Peszko, but Wolves looked a well beaten side as the game moved to its conclusion.
Ikeme – made a few good saves but got away with completely missing a couple of crosses
Zubar – yet to have a good league game this season and gave the penalty away here and never looked comfortable
Johnson – looking much more confident now and one of the better players, and got a good reception from the home fans
Berra – done well since being recalled
Ward – caught out of position a few times and seems to be missing Jarvis when he breaks forward
Peszko – got a couple of good crosses in but not in the game enough
Doumbia – his least effective game so far and made little impact
Edwards – never be the most creative midfielder but his work rate can never be faulted and he was one of Wolves better players on the day
Sako – always looked the most likely to make something happen for Wolves with good delivery from dead balls and some dangerous crosses not to mention getting in some good tackles when helping out the defence and Wolves best player today
Doyle – lots of good work in deep positions but didn’t hurt the home team in the final third
Ebanks Blake – took some ribbing from the home fans about his physique and only had one worthwhile attempt on goal
Stearman – looked safer in defence than Zubar but had little to do in the right back position
Nouble – looks immobile at times but then had one excellent 50 yard run that showed there is some life there
Forde – didn’t get into the game
So its an international break now and two weeks for Solbakken to take stock and work on getting the best out of the new squad. Henry was missed today and it would be helpful if Foley could come back and re-assume his form of the last time Wolves were at this level and we still have to see what Boukari, Magreitter and Sigurdarsen can add to the equation. But Solbakken will know that what Wolves did today is nowhere near good enough and he and his team will have something to prove in the coming weeks.