Wolves make a point for SaundersBy: DJ | January 11th, 2013
Wolves drew their first game under Dean Saunders management to give a more than satisfactory start for the new manager. The team were unable to find the win that would give the momentum you always hope for from a fresh start but there was more than enough here to encourage the home fans that there can be better results and better entertainment than has been evident so far this season.
Saunders made three changes from the team that had lost to non league opposition last week with Zubar returning from the wilderness, Davis coming in for O’Hara and most interestingly Jake Cassidy getting his first start instead of Ebanks Blake;
Zubar, Johnson, Berra, Ward
Foley, Henry, Davis, Sako
Wolves started off at an excellent tempo and totally dominated the opening quarter of an hour. They had a series of early corners and were impressively closing their opponents down all over the pitch. Cassidy had a shot deflected wide but there was almost a nasty shock for Wolves from Blackburn’s first serious attack Rhodes gets clean through and pushes the ball past Ikeme but Berra was on hand to clear up. Then Wolves came close to going ahead. Ward and Sako had been combining to great effect on the left and from one Sako cross Foley turned the ball goalwards but Kean made an excellent save.
Kazim-Richards was booked and then committed two more free kicks that could have had him in trouble in what was to be a very poor refereeing performance from Whitestone. He was called to make a decision after 25 minutes when Rochina beat a couple of players in the Wolves area before going down under a challenge from Sako. The referee was prepared to let the game go on but his Assistant indicated a penalty and the ref changed his opinion. Rhodes tucked away the spot kick confidently.
The goal took a bit of the steam out of Wolves but Davis had a half chance when the ball fell to him on the edge of the box. He mishit his first effort but when he had a second chance he rushed his shot and blazed over. As we moved into the second half it was Blackburn looking more comfortable and Rochina brought a good save out of Ikeme. Then an inswinging corner from Sako was headed off the line by Murphy. Johnson headed just over from a Sako corner but Wolves were not making as many chances now and the overly fussy referee was spoiling the game with too many hold ups and a series of yellow cards for minor offences.
Wolves made a couple of changes with Peszko replacing Zubar and then O’Hara for Davis. O’Hara’s first touch saw him float a diagonal cross into the penalty area to find the head of Roger Johnson who put Wolves level. Even more unnecessary bookings followed before more great build up play between Ward and Sako saw the winger knock in a dangerous cross that Peszko and Foley could not capitalize on. Doyle was the eighth player booked in what had not been a dirty game. Then when Peszko broke free on the right he was hacked down by Givet in the worst foul of the game but the referee illogically kept his book in his pocket this time. No more chances for either side with a draw possibly a fair result but Wolves might claim they shaded it.
Ikeme – one excellent save and remains a reliable man between the sticks
Zubar – generally good comeback game with the occasional lack of concentration made up for by the enthusiasm he brings to the table
Ward – formed an excellent attacking combination with Sako on the left hand side
Johnson – defended well and scored one and went close with another header
Berra – didn’t see him put a foot wrong and Saunders may well want him signed up on a contract
Foley – better than recent midfield performances and unlucky not to score due to a fine save
Henry – usual solid defensive roles with more than a few runs forward thrown in
Davis – good high energy performance and the promise is certainly there but needs to buy some shooting boots
Sako – played as an orthodox winger rather than the tucked in role Solbakken preferred and no coincidence he returned to more like his best as a result
Doyle – worked hard and a better performance than of late and hopefully we will see him back to his best soon
Cassidy – also put in a good shift and always looking for a chance. Well worth persevering with.
Peszko – a lively cameo and Wolves do need to offer more attacking threat from the right rather than over relying on Sako to make things happen
O’Hara – made a goal with his first touch and the most creative of the central midfield players
SEB – late sub but not able to make much impact
A game that was much more enjoyable to watch than most of the games under the previous manager and the more direct play and faster tempo and the closing down of the opposition were all steps in the right direction. The jury will be out for a while on where Wolves can get to under Saunders but this was a decent first step and some movement up the table is on the cards in the coming weeks.