Wolves make perfect Molineux startBy: DJ | August 10th, 2013
After so many disappointments in recent times, Wolves fans gathered at Molineux hopeful of seeing their team produce a win and maybe even some entertainment but what they got surpassed everyone’s expectations as their team produced 90 minutes of excellent positive football and played Gillingham off the park to leave everyone with great hope that this season is finally going to see the good times return.
The kick off to the new Molineux season was delayed for 15 minutes and in that time there was a minute’s applause for Dave Wagstaffe who passed away earlier this week. The winger was a real legend for the Wolves team of the late 60s and early seventies having joined the club from Manchester City in 1964. It was a tradition at Molineux for everyone to give him a cheer when he touched the ball for the first time in every home game, and he made countless assists in his time with Wolves, most noticeably as the main supply to the Derek Dougan and John Richards partnership.
When the game finally started it proved to be a real treat and a fitting tribute to Waggy with Jackett deciding on a 4-4-2 formation with Doyle recalled to the team and Zele Ismail given his chance;
Doherty, Batth, Stearman, Ricketts
Ismail, Davis, Evans, Sako
Wolves started brightly and when Doyle was fouled 25 yards out, Sako hit his free kick over the bar. But with only 4 minutes gone they got the goal they needed to remove the early season nerves and generate the confidence for a good performance. And an excellent goal it was too with Griffiths collecting Ricketts cross on his chest and then spinning to hit a left foot volley into the bottom corner from the edge of the penalty area.
Doyle made a good run but screwed his shot wide before we saw the ’shoot on sight’ style of Griffiths as his terrific shot is tipped over. And its all Wolves as Doherty gets to the byeline and Stearman is inches away from getting the touch needed on the far post. Then Griffiths shows he is more than just a goalscorer with a tremendous through ball to send Sako through but he shot wide. Evans and Griffiths both had shots blocked before the inevitable second goal arrived after 25 minutes. Sako found Griffiths whose shot was blocked but Evans came in to calmly prod the looping ball over the keeper.
And there is only 6 more minutes to wait for goal number 3 in a half of total domination by Wolves. The assist came from Zele Ismail who had a jinking run on the right of the area before passing low across the box to give Sako the chance to blast home. Gillingham finally threatened when a good long range effort was not far over but Wolves fans could hardly believe what they were watching after the drab football of recent times as their team were playing bright attacking football with excellent passing and movement off the ball. Evans was playing like a veteran controlling the midfield with Davis also impressive alongside him, and Kevin Doyle was looking much more like his old self up front. And Grififths was establishing himself as the new South Bank hero and he had another piledriver saved by the keeper just before the break.
After a slow opening few minutes of the second half Wolves are soon back in their rhythm and Sako was only inches wide after a good run. Wolves made their first substitution after 64 minutes when Doyle was replaced by Sigurdarson after a fine display on his return from injury. And the new man quickly made his mark by flicking the ball on to Evans who ran into the right side of the Gillingham area before being hacked down for a blatant penalty. Griffiths drilled the spot kick low into the corner to make it 4-0. And Wolves just keep coming forward and Sako, Sigurdarson and Griffiths all had shots that went wide before an excellent Sako cross just eluded Griffiths.
Jack Price came on for Ismail for the last 15 minutes and settled to give an impressive cameo joining in the fine passing performance of Wolves. And Foley replaced Doherty late on after the full back had a couple of late knocks.
Ikeme – never troubled in the home goal but did did well coming out to catch some early crosses
Doherty – probably his best Wolves performance so far with good defending and a threat on the overlap
Batth – on his way to being an outstanding centre back
Stearman – had a decent start to the season although this was not a hard game for the defenders
Ricketts – looks a good addition to the squad
Ismail – a good home debut with some fine runs and crosses and looks capable of getting a run in the team
Davis – win lots of tackles in midfield and passed the ball sensibly and looks set to be a regular
Evans – remarkably assured performance on his home debut. Controlled the midfield, spreading passes all over the park and I made him Wolves best player on the day
Sako – would have impressed any watching scouts and well worth keeping if nobody will pay the fee
Doyle – looked brighter than he has for a long time and reminded us what a good player he is
Griffiths – scored two, could have had more, and contributed lots outside the box also
Sigurdarson – did well when he came on but still not sure whether striker or wide is his best position
Price – made a good impression with his tidy passing and Jackett evidently rates him very highly
Foley – came on for a few minutes at the end
A performance to warm the hearts and set up a much more enjoyable season. This was a performance of Champions elect but there is a long way to go and we have to see what the squad looks like at the end of the transfer window. But for now we will just reflect on a great start to the Molineux season and hope for some more enjoyable afternoons like this over the coming months.