Substitution: Half time (Wolves) Matt Jarvis replaced Adlene Guedioura. Another unlucky outing for Guedioura, unable to influence the game as much as he could from the centre of the park, he was left to rot out on the wing and thus was the makeweight for the much needed second winger in this 4-5-1 system.
46 mins – A real sense of déjà vu early in the second half for Wolves fans as Wigan again were getting joy on their right flank. The lively Victor Moses was given too much time and space but opted to shoot wide of the upright from about 20 yards.
48 mins – Wigan’s intent was there for all to see as they came again. Di Santo received the ball on the edge of the area with his back to goal, turned Christophe Berra inside out before shooting low and inches wide of the post. The Wolves back line was looking extremely tentative on the back of recent poor performances.
55 mins – GOAL! Karl Henry’s first positive contribution of the season (forgive the sarcasm but that’s just about spot on). Credit where it’s due even from his biggest critic. I am open to being proved pleasantly wrong. Henry almost in nosebleed territory received the ball on the edge of the opposition area, showed incredible poise as he dropped the shoulder, beating two men and dribbled to the byline and cut it back to an unmarked Stephen Hunt. The Irishman miscued his shot and it was palmed out by Al-Habsi who picked himself up to claw the ensuing header from O’Hara that followed from off the line. Unfortunately for Al-Habsi, who must have been fuming at his defence for all his efforts, Wolves made it third time lucky as David Edwards drilled home from close range. 2-1 Wanderers.
62 mins – Wigan attempted to draw level for a second time finding more joy (yes you guessed it) on the Wolves left back position. Stephen Ward was looking like the makeshift full back he started out as, allowing Rodallega too much time and space to hit the byline and flash a low cross right across the 6 yard box and out the other side. The warning signs are apparent for Wolves as they seem to have gone into retreat whilst Wigan’s patient possession game was building pressure once more.
Substitution 64 mins – (Wigan) Albert Crusat replaced Ben Watson.
65 mins – GOAL!! I must have stepped inadvertently into the twilight zone as another Wolves goal and fine move began in the centre of the park with Karl Henry! The mainstay in the Wolves line up should have taken a leaf out of his own book on this one as he got the ball under control, stopped and looked up before sweeping a glorious ball FORWARD and out wide to Ward advancing on the left. Ward cheekily back-heeled it to Matt Jarvis, who took on and beat his man into the penalty area before an almost carbon copy of the second goal. Edwards picked up the cut back from Jarvis but his shot was blocked. The second ball fell to O’Hara whose left footer was beaten back into play by the Omanian Wigan keeper before Wolves go third time lucky once more as Stephen Ward controlled and volleyed well into the upper left corner of the net for his second goal of the season.
Kudos to Ward who by all intent and purpose had had a nightmare defensively but quickly erased those memories, and of course to Karl Henry who really should do this more often. If he’s got it in his locker, let’s see more of it because that is where 90% of the frustration builds in relation to the Wolves number 8. The scoreline — 3-1. Wolves are almost there.
69 mins – Wolves were keen on putting the proverbial nail in the coffin begin to attack relentlessly. A free kick on the right wing was whipped in impressively by the left boot of Jamie O’Hara bypassing everybody and finding Christophe Berra whose header was saved point blank by Al Habsi tipping it up and over the bar. Berra still awaits his first Wolves goal as the Wanderers were heading for the Latic’s jugular.
75 mins – Reality check for Wolves as Wigan come again. Slow and short precise build up saw them move side to side and pass and move, leading to two tame efforts in quick succession from Di Santo and Rodallega.
Substitution – 77 mins (Wigan) Connor Sammon and James McArthur replace David Jones and Hugo Rodallega. Pleasant ovation from the Molineux faithful for David Jones, another whose chances at the club were limited due to the often misguided pecking order. Rodallega’s misfiring afternoon was bought to an end as Martinez had seen enough chances go begging.
81 mins – Wigan would not lay down and die. A right wing corner found Steve Gohouri 8 yards out, who powered a header down and goalward. Wayne Hennessey reacted with a strong right handed save, tipping the ball onto the post and out.
Substitution – 83 mins (Wolves) Nenad Milijas for Jamie O’Hara. It appeared that time is running out for the fans favourite Serbian, I fear his season will now be limited to cameos like today despite the fact that we constantly find ourselves crying out for someone who can pick a lock like he can.
The game petered out with Wolves sitting back and soaking up the pressure from Wigan that was apparent but never incisive. Victor Moses continued to torment the Wolves full backs winning a free kick against Richard Stearman whilst Sammon hit the foot of the post late on as he was allowed time to turn and shoot from the edge of the area.
Sky Sports gave the man of the match award to Wigan goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi which says a lot for the game itself, but even more so for the Wolves who still couldn’t produce an outstanding performance even when they won the game.
If we take the game for what it was, there was a job to be done and, everything aside, Wolves produced when it was most vital. Although there won’t be many leaving Molineux today brimming with optimism, it is a foundation on which we can and need to build. The performance was nothing beyond a 6 out of ten. You could still spend hours picking it apart with frailties at both ends of the field. The defence still look far too susceptible, and against an attack more potent than Wigan’s of which there are many in this league, you can see Wolves coming a right cropper.
As they say though, ‘you can only play what’s in front of you’ and Wolves got in and got back out with three massive points, and to boot they were taken from the ‘competition’ effectively making it an impactful 6 point turnaround. Unfortunately Wolves can’t play Wigan every week, who must be wondering what they have to do. Eight losses on the bounce — all off the back of playing decent football. Their ethics are in the right place but something is lacking where it really matters. I’ll keep it real and certainly won’t be jumping on any bandwagons, Wolves must continue to improve massively on this improvement if they are to avoid a third season scrapping in the Premier League doldrums. The international break is followed by two games on the road, Everton and Chelsea.
I guess we should enjoy it while it lasts, and pray that the team and the management can finally see past the end of their noses and build on and learn from their experience against the league’s whipping boys on this dreary Sunday afternoon. Remember, remember the 6th of November. The day the Wolves stopped the rot.
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