Wolverhampton Wanderers suffered their heaviest defeat for 39 years as Southampton’s promotion push found new impetous thanks to a hat-trick from Marek Saganowski and goals from Leon Best and Andrew Surman and a first half Gary Breen own goal.
he scoreline flattered the victors who were outplayed for large sections of the match, but the stats speak for themselves. Six attempts on target, 6 goals.
Wolves started the match brightly, but found themselves three nil down at half time thanks to a combination of great goalkeeping, clinical finishing and plain bad luck.
They could have gone ahead as early as six minutes in, when the out of form Gary Breen fluffed a an early chance from close in.
They dominated for most of the next 20 minutes until Southampton took the lead against the run of play.
An Andrew Surman cross found Marek Saganowski at the far post. Matt Murray looked to have saved his header from an acute angle, but he only succeded in clawing the ball into the back of his own net.
Two minutes later things got worse. Rudi Skacel squirmed past Rob Edwards and cut the ball back from the by-line into the box. The ball evaded Matt Murray, but not Gary Breen who could do little as the ball rattled in off his shins for Southampton’s second as Mick McCarthy held his head in despair.
Ten minutes later, Saints went three up when Sagnowski spotted Matt Murray marginally off his line and chipped a sublime looping shot over the helpless ‘keeper from just inside the penalty area..
Wolves continually searched for an answer as Molineux shook to the sound of 23,000 black country voices urging them on.
At times there was only Bartosz Bialkowski stopping Saints from conceding, and it was his fingertips that forced an Andy Keogh header against the post shortly before Wolves got the break they had been looking for almost on half time.
Chris Makin handled a Michael Kightly cross and Graham Salisbury had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
Kightly stepped up to take the penalty himself, but his weak effort was easily saved by the grateful Bialkowski and Saints went into the break three to the good.
It took Saints ten minutes into the second half to extend their lead and end any hopes Wolves had of a revival.
Mirroring the first half, it came against the run of play. Leon Best saw his initial shot saved by Matt Murray, but he could only parry the ball back to Best who made no mistake the second time of asking.
Under Glenn Hoddle Wolves would have now been playing to rows of empty seats, but Hoddle never had McCarthy’s magician like qualities. With Chants of ‘Super Mick McCarthy’ and ‘We’re going to win 5-4’ McCarthy showed why Wolves fans love him, and refusing to let his side lie down, swapped Jay Bothroyd for Rob Edwards and Jody Craddock for Jamie Clapham as Wolves went 3 at the back and three up top.
Soon after Michael Kightly saw his chip over Bialkowski sail just wide, and then shot over the bar following a some fine control bringing down a Michael McIndoe cross.
McCarthy played his last ace, bringing on Craig Davis for Stephen Ward as Wolves still refused to give up the fight.
Bialkowski once again denied Michael Kightly before Andrew Surman unleashed a left foot volley that gave Matt Murray no chance for Southampton’s fifth.
Wolves misery was completed on 83 minutes when Matt Murray’s poor clearance fell to Saganowski who returned it with interest into the top right hand corner of the net.
The chant turned to ‘We’re going to win 7-6’ as the dying minutes slipped away and at the final whistle, warm applause echoed around the ground for Wolves never say die performance.
Manager Mick McCarthy strode into the centre circle, and in turn, applauded all four stands for their rousing support, despite conceding 6 goals to a promotion rival.
Few managers, and few teams can count on that level of loyalty and the fact it is there, is no chance happening.
Wolves heads never dropped, neither did their work rate as they chased the Southampton goal avalanche.
The record books will show Wolves took a hiding, but the memories will be of the support given to a team of fighters and their manager alike.
George Burley :
Mick McCarthy On Scoreline :
‘At half time I decided that we would go to three at the back and have a go. But it left us exposed so I blame myself for that – not the players.All you can feel is stunned. It was bizarre’
Mick McCarthy On Supporters :
‘To be beaten like we were and for the crowd to keep singing as they did was lovely to see. I felt quite humble.
‘I told the players that the fans trust you because you have changed the mood of the club from that feeling of apathy that was around at the start of the season.
‘It was a real bit of bloody mindedness on the part of the supporters. And to maintain their humour the way they did was terrific.’
George Burley :
‘What about their fans? Six-nil down and signing ‘we’re going to win 7-6’!
‘That’s great support.’