Wolves undone by ZahaBy: DJ | October 3rd, 2012
Wolves run of successes came to an end at Molineux on Tuesday as they were beaten by the talents of 19 year old Palace talisman Wilfred Zaha. He was ultimately the difference between the two sides in a close run and entertaining game. Wolves remain in the top 6 after the game and they showed enough on the night to demonstrate that they could maintain that kind of level over the season. With Boukari unable to start following his injury on Saturday, Peszko was recalled as the only change to the Wolves team;
Foley, Johnson, Berra, Ward
Peszko, Doumbia, Henry, Sako
Ebanks Blake, Doyle
Wolves were asking the early questions and a series of excellent corners by Sako were causing problems for the visitors. Then when Doyle made a break on the right his cross found Ebanks Blake whose shot was blocked. Wolves were looking the more likely to break the deadlock and Doyle and Peszko both had efforts blocked. Some feisty midfield clashes between Karl Henry and Palace’s Williams were also a feature of a lively first half. As the half wore on so Zaha became a bigger influence and he left Ward writhing in agony as he turned the full back inside out, and then Doumbia fouled the winger on the edge of the box but the free kick was blocked by the wall.
While Zaha was causing problems at one end so was Sako at the other. He combined with Ward before sending in a cross that saw SEB’s header saved, then had another cross tipped over the bar, before Doyle headed over from another great cross from the former St Etienne wide player. Wolves produced their best move of the half 5 minutes before the break when Peszko made a break on the right and after exchanging passes with SEB crossed for Doyle who was just beaten to the ball by a Palace defender with the referee amazingly awarding a goal kick when the defender clearly intercepted and played the ball out. And the ref was soon to make another crucial mistake when Zaha was tackled from behind in the Wolves area by Doumbia but a penalty was susrprisingly not awarded.
It was a game that could have gone either way with both teams playing good football but when the deadline was broken it was a gift for Wolves. Palace defender Delaney dallied on the ball on the edge of his own penalty area and Ebanks Blake stole the ball from him and scored with a right foot shot. And Wolves were close to wrapping things up seven minutes later after a sparlkling move. Doumbia made an excellent run out of defence before feeding Peszko and then Sako. The ball eventually fell to Doyle ten yards out and he volleyed against the bar.
But after going so close to sealing the points Wolves were soon on the back foot. When the ball was played through the Wolves defence Zaha seemed a couple of yards offside but he carried on to beat Johnson and score from a narrow angle. And a few minutes later the England U21 international was one on one with Stephen Ward and spun past the full back before sending in a crashing drive to put Palace ahead. Wolves fought to the end and Berra twice headed over the Palace bar from Sako corners.
It was an even game where a draw would probably have been a fair result but Zaha, who Palace will do well to hold on to on this showing, looked a very good player on the night. Wolves rely a lot on Sako to create their openings and it will be worrying that him and Doumbia tend to fade in the last quarter of games as they adapt to the high tempo Engish game and the prospect of playing three games in a week. Peszko was injured from a tackle by Williams who like Henry was substituted because of the risk of getting a 2nd yellow. With Peszko and Boukari now out of action Wolves look light of ammunition on the right of midfield.
Ikeme – didn’t have many saves to make and could not be faulted for either of the goals
Foley – made one uncharacteristic mistake 2nd half that was nearly costly but generally had another fine game
Johnson – troubled by Zaha a couple of times but generally did fine
Berra – a couple of loose passes on the evening but defended well otherwise, but he and Johnson should be more of a goal threat on the end of Sako’s excellent corners and free kicks
Ward – given a hard time by Zaha but we will praise the Palace player rather than knock Wardie for that
Peszko – some flashes of really good play but needs to be a greater influence on the game
Doumbia – had a good game in the centre of midfield before fading late in the game
Henry – not at hs best tonight and was substituted as a precaution after gaining a yellow card
Sako – outstanding for the first hour before fading late on. Become a vital player in the new look Wolves
Ebanks Blake – took his goal well but needs to show more movement and involvement otherwise
Doyle – some excellent play in the build ups but the goals just will not come although he was unlucky to hit the bar 2nd half
Davis – came on for Henry in central midfield before moving to right back to replace Foley as Wolves committed to find an equaliser
Edwards and Sigurdarsen replaced Peszko and Foley but made little impact
So a disappointing result but another encouraging performance from Wolves. They have clearly found a real gem in Sako who can only improve as his fitness builds to what is required in the English game. With Doumbia and Henry providing a solid line in front of the defence Wolves are not an easy team to beat nowadays but they need more involvement and movement from the likes of Peszko and SEB in attack and need Doyle to find some goals. But this looks a much better Wolves team than many were fearing as the likes of Fletcher, Jarvis and Kightly moved out and there remains a fair degree of optimism that they can remain in contention as a play off team as long as they dont get too many more injuries.