Wolves keep up march towards the topBy: DJ | November 3rd, 2013
Wolves secured another three points at home to Stevenage that was mostly comfortable, but they made hard work of getting the second goal to put the game to bed and the visitors had their chances to nick a point as a result. But with Orient winning at Peterborough it means Wolves have three points to spare in the fight for automatic promotion and also have a game in hand that comes at Carlisle on Tuesday.
With Matt Doherty still unavailable through injury and Leigh Griffiths on the bench having missed some training with a cold, Kenny Jackett recalled Sigurdarson and played Ricketts right back to allow Stearman to play in the central defensive position he looks more comfortable in;
Ricketts, Batth, Stearman, Golbourne
Henry, David, Evans, Sako
Early attempts at both ends as Henry curls a free kick over the bar and Hartley heads wide for Stevenage. But only 6 minutes in its Wolves that get the breakthrough. Sako got to the byeline on the left and his low cross is turned in by Doyle. And two minutes later it should have been two as the ball drops to Sigurdarson ten yards out but he is far too slow to react.
Wolves were well in control with Doyle prominent in every attack. Stevenage just cant pick him up as he drops deep to collect the ball and beats players and brings others into play and he is controlling the game. Stevenage did bring a diving save out of Ikeme on 20 minutes to give a warning to Wolves and there is a half chance for Sigurdarson who tries an overhead kick after being set up by Doyle but its well wide. Despite Wolves controlling possession Stevenage do look capable of getting a goal and after Ikeme turned over a powerful long range shot and then when the keeper comes for a cross Zoko got there first and his header went wide when he should have scored.
At the other end Sako has a couple of shots with one blocked and one going wide before he beats three players in a great run and then passes straight to the opposition. At the end of the half Wolves are pushing hard for the second goal that would seal the game and Henry shoots over, Doyle has a header blocked and then after one of many good runs by Ricketts he pulls the ball back to Evans whose first shot is blocked and when the ball comes back to him his second effort is cleared off the line.
Early in the second half Stevenage show they are still in the game and Ricketts heads off his own line to clear a header from a corner. After an hour Wolves replace the disappointing Sigurdarson with Griffiths. And the Scotsman should have scored with his first touch as he fails to connect with a header from Henry’s cross. And then Griffiths gets away on the right and with players queuing up in the middle his cross is blocked. Griffiths caused more trouble for the Stevenage defence in 2 minutes than Sigurdarson had in the previous 60.
But with a slender one goal lead Wolves start to come under pressure from the visitors. Zoko brought a diving save from Ikeme and then when the ball fell to the same player 5 yards out he prodded the ball goalwards and Ikeme made an excellent save. Then when Davis misplaces a header Stevenage shoot just wide. Finally with ten minutes left Wolves find the goal they needed to secure the game. Henry gets a clear run on goal as Stevenage look for an offside flag that doesn’t come and he finishes with aplomb, curling the ball past the visiting keeper.
There’s a mixture of cheers and boos as Jamie O’Hara comes on for Evans late on. More cheers than boos to be fair and the prodigal son looks slimmer and fitter than he has for some time in a Wolves shirt. He produced a few good touches and one excellent dribble but then one poor misdirected pass. There is one last chance for Wolves as good play by Henry set up Doyle who blazed over the bar. But the second goal had clinched it for Wolves and its another three points.
Ikeme – had to make a couple of diving saves and one excellent point blank block to keep Wolves in front at 1-0
Ricketts – showed his versatility by having one of his best Wolves performances in his first game in the right back position
Golbourne – steady and unspectacular and rarely makes any serious mistakes or gives the ball away
Batth – a couple of loose moments in the second half but generally a rock as always
Stearman – more comfortable in the centre than at right back but was troubled a few times by the visiting attack
Henry – getting better and more confident by the game and at the end of his loan in January Wolves have the option to buy for £250k. A deal that looks a real bargain
Davis – some good work and won lots of balls in midfield but does make loose passes when losing concentration
Evans – got stronger as the game wore on and had a decent second half
Sako – a mixture of the brilliant and the poor but got yet another assist and his match winning capabilities cannot be questioned
Sigurdarson – given another chance to impress but again the game largely passed him by. Needs to show more and soon to have a future with Wolves
Doyle – ran the game for large periods and for me was man of the match by some distance
Griffiths – a real livewire sub appearance and could and maybe should have had another goal
O’Hara – looks to have worked hard on his fitness and the cup game at Oldham next weekend looks like a good time to see if he can recapture his form and win the fans over
Another three points in a game that Wolves largely controlled but the visitors had plenty of opportunities at 1-0 to save the game. Wolves now are three points up on Peterborough and have the chance to extend that to six on Tuesday at Carlisle. A win there would also put them a very useful 11 points clear of 4th. Still a long way to go in the season but if I were a neutral, rather than a biased Wolves fan, I would still say they look a very good bet for automatic promotion at this stage.