Writer: DJ Wolves
Wolverhampton Wanderers extended their run of unbeaten games to eight with their draw at Newcastle United on Sunday. It wasn’t a totally convincing performance but it’s another result towards climbing the table although against an unimpressive home team it could and maybe should have been three points.
Wolves went into the game on the back of the news that star defender Willy Boly had fractured an ankle in training, and with Ryan Bennett also unfit, it was an unfamiliar back line for the starting eleven:
Doherty, Coady, Saiss
Dendoncker, Neves, Moutinho, Jonny
Traore, Jimenez, Jota
The first half opened brightly for Wolves and they certainly looked the more likely scorers in the opening period. Traore was causing problems on the right and Newcastle seemed unable to stop a flow of early attacks by the visitors. But as the game settled down, Wolves became more cautious in their approach and Newcastle, mainly through Saint Maximin and Almiron, became the better team. And they took the lead in the 37th minute when Jota gave the ball away on the right, the resulting cross was headed away by Saiss, but when the ball came back in from the right it was a static defence that Lascelles exploited by steaming in unchallenged to head in the opener.
After the break, there was a change to the Wolves line up that saw Dendoncker go into the back line and Doherty move forward into the right wing back role that he is more familiar with. And that was a key factor in a very different second period where Wolves were the better team throughout. And Doherty was a big factor in that change showing the attacking instincts we have hardly seen from him so far this season after his injury picked up in the summer. He combined with Traore to set up Jota who headed over, and then a typical Jota run saw him cut inside two Newcastle defenders before bringing a save out of Dubravka. But Wolves were level after 73 minutes when the Newcastle keeper palmed out a Doherty cross straight to Jonny who turned the ball in.
The home team then went down to ten men when a high tackle from Sean Longstaff sent Neves down and earned a straight red card. Wolves could easily have turned one point to three in stoppage time and again Doherty was at the centre of things. He sent a glancing header wide from a Jimenez cross when he probably should have scored, and then surely should have earned a penalty in the final minute. His shirt was being tugged from the moment Traore sent in a cross from the right and when the ball fell to his feet he was held back by the shoulder from getting to the ball. The incident was reviewed by VAR but incredibly no foul was considered committed.
Patricio 6 – not a busy afternoon for the keeper.
Dendoncker 6 – played on the right of midfield in the first half then moved into the back line at half time. Newcastle put the defence under little pressure from that point on.
Coady 6 – didn’t have a busy game but was beaten by the onrushing Lascelles for the hosts goal.
Saiss 6 – this may well be his best position and had a decent game.
Doherty 8 – right back to his best when moved to the wing back position after the break and was involved in most of the best attacks.
Neves 6 – not an outstanding game but linked the game well after the break.
Moutinho 6 – had a quiet game in midfield.
Jonny 6 – got forward more in the second half and came up with the equaliser.
Traore 7 – again the liveliest of the attackers and was the main threat to Newcastle.
Jimenez 6 – maybe suffers from being a little isolated with the two others in the front three playing wide.
Jota 6 – came into it more late on when pushed further forward after not looking at his best in a wide position before that.
Neto for Jota and Vinagre for Jonny were the subs made in the second half.
Felt a bit like points lost here against what looked like decidedly moderate opposition. Not for the first time recently it was a largely lacklustre first half display followed by a gradual push for the win. This has been a successful approach in Besiktas and Bratislava and had Wolves got maximum points at Newcastle they would have been up to 6th in the league. So with 8 games now unbeaten, it’s hard to criticise but as supporters we always look for a bit more.
Next is a trip down the road to Villa on Wednesday evening for a Carabao Cup tie then it’s on to the 4th away game in 9 days at Arsenal on Saturday before a welcome return to Molineux the week after.