Wolves can’t halt the Bluebirds marchBy: DJ | February 24th, 2013
On the day that Swansea won the first major trophy in their history, Cardiff took another big step towards becoming the second Welsh team in the Premier League by beating Wolves at Molineux and sending the home team further into the mire in the relegation dogfight. The result put Cardiff 8 points clear at the top of the table with a game in hand and left Wolves 2 points away from safety with a number of the teams around them having played less games. And both teams are favourites to leave the Championship at the end of the season, albeit in different directions.
It was a surprising team selection by Saunders as he selected 5 defenders and had Sigurdarson as the only recognised striker in a negative formation that did little to raise the pre game spirits of the home support. It represented 3 changes from the Barnsley game with Foley, Edwards and Ebanks Blake making way for Doherty, Johnson and Doumbia.
Doherty, Batth, Johnson, Gorkss, Robinson
Doumbia, Henry, O’Hara
It was clear from very early in the game that it was a formation that was not going to be effective. The Cardiff strikers, Bellamy and Campbell, nullified any advantage Wolves were going to get from having three centre backs by dropping off the defence and attacking from deep. The two inexperienced full backs were being forced to play on the back foot by Cardiff using width. And with neither Sako or Sigurdarson being the kind of forward players to hold the ball up, Cardiff were having no problem dominating possession and an away win looked on the cards from the word go.
It was no surprise when Cardiff went ahead after 20 minutes although the simplicity of the goal was a choker for Wolves. A long throw was flicked on at the near post and Campbell was left with a simple header from three yards out. It was half an hour into the game before there was any threat on the Cardiff goal and then Sako showed that heading isn’t his forte by heading tamely wide from a Sigurdarson cross. The Icelandic striker was the one forward player troubling the visitors and he got away on the right before setting up Sako again who shot wide.
No marks out of ten for the initial team selection by Saunders but at least he recognised the need for a complete change in the formation at the start of the second half. Doyle and Ebanks Blake were introduced to lead a 4-4-2 formation with Batth and the ineffective Doumbia making way. After being the outstanding player in recent games it seemed really harsh on Batth to be the centre back sacrificed.
It looked like Cardiff had doubled their lead when Ikeme parried a Cowie shot into the path of Bellamy who scored but from an offside position. Wolves won their first corner after 56 minutes and they were playing far better now and Doyle might have done better from another good cross by the impressive Sigurdarson. But midway through the half Cardiff did extend their lead and again it was such a simple goal when Campbell ghosted in to head a Bellamy cross past Ikeme who should have come to cut the cross out.
The expectation was then for Cardiff to coast to an easy away win but a couple of minutes later Wolves were back in it. Doyle was brought down on the edge of the area and Sako drove his free kick low through the wall and with a deflection it found the corner of the net. Wolves were set to make Davis their final sub but Doherty picked up an injury and Foley replaced him. With ten minutes to go Wolves came within an ace of rescuing the game. Sako made a 50 yard break down the left and sent in a perfect cross to Ebanks Blake who was three yards out with the goal gaping in front of him but somehow contrived to get the ball over the bar when it was easier to score.
Ikeme – at fault for the second goal and maybe the first also
Doherty – did ok but was caught out by the width in the Cardiff attack a few times first half by tucking in when Wolves had three centre backs to cover the middle
Batth – unlucky to be taken off at half time as Saunders moved to a more positive set up
Johnson – made some good blocks but caught out at times by Bellamy and Campbell ghosting late into the area
Gorkss – best of the back line and looks a decent signing
Robinson – steady enough game but unable to get forward
Doumbia – made no real impact before being taken off at half time
Henry – got in some early tackles but generally ineffective
O’Hara – not at his best with some poor passes and never got to grips with the midfield
Sako – not suited to the central role in the first half but better after the break when he scored and set up a sitter for SEB
Sigurdarson – I made him Wolves best player on the day and certainly ready for a run in the team although the jury still out on whether central striker or on the right is his best position
Doyle – better today with some good runs from deep
SEB – rarely can he have missed an easier chance to have saved the game
Foley – late replacement for the injured Doherty
The first half is best forgotten as Wolves never troubled Cardiff in what has to go down as a poor team selection. Matched the league leaders after the break and but for that SEB miss would have got a point. But where is the next win coming from. With all the teams around them finding wins from time to time this 12 game winless run of Wolves makes them the most likely team to go down as things stand. And yet for the fifth game running they came close to getting more than they got. If they can find one win it might all change for Wolves but finding that win is taking far too long and might take more time than they can afford.