Fletcher’s late strike wasn’t quite enough. (©PAphotos)
by Rory Hall
, read by 443 people.
Leaving Molineux on Saturday evening, the Wolves fans will have been extremely disappointed at their side's inability to really test Owen Coyle's Bolton side when they visited the West Midlands. Just over two weeks ago, having beaten the mighty Manchester City, things were looking bright for Mick McCarthy and his men; but doom and gloom is slowly beginning to return.
It seems that in these really important, high pressure games, McCarthy's side get nervous; they realise how much these games mean and cannot seem to lift their game, push on and take a valuable three points. You have to wonder why; after some excellent performances against sides of much higher stature than Bolton.
On Saturday there will have been hope surrounding Molineux. Hope that recent displays would be repeated and Bolton would be put to the sword in clinical fashion. Their day could not have got off to a worse start. Just as against Arsenal, Wolves found themselves a goal down within the first minute; Richard Stearman guiding a header past his own 'keeper in the 46th second after Lee's cross. The sighs were audible around the stadium.
Things continued in the same vein for much of the first half; Bolton's attacking talent being allowed too much time and freedom on the ball. Rarely have Kevin Davies, Johan Elmander, Chung Yong-Lee and Stuart Holden looked so dangerous this season; the Wolves defence backing off them rather than attacking the ball in their usual fashion.
The game was one sided, Wolves offering little in the way of the response we saw against Arsenal in midweek.
The second half did little to raise the spirits of the home fans with Bolton again dominating possession and creating the clear chances to extend their lead. Matt Jarvis, keen to impress with rumours still abound of an England call-up, took matters into his own hands, beating Ricketts for pace down the left and crossing low into the box; unfortunately his strikers were at least two yards ahead of the ball and the Bolton defence gratefully cleared their lines.
From bad to worse, Wolves fell a further goal behind in the 62nd minute to an Elmander strike. It only took five more minutes for Wolves to take another set-back; this time, the class off the goal is indisputable. Stuart Holden picked up the ball from Lee and ran at the Wolves defence; they backed off allowing him to pick his spot and strike superbly into the Wolves net. The game was now, officially, Mission:Impossible. Some seats in Molineux were vacated early - the fan's frustration was clear.
How odd, then, that at this point Wolves started to play some proper football. Bolton may have felt that a 0-3 lead was unassailable - especially after the lacklustre efforts of the home side. But, McCarthy's men had other ideas.
The unlikeliest of goalscorers came to the fore as Kevin Foley strode forward, exchanged a one-two with Matty Jarvis before sliding his finish past Jaskelainen. It was an extremely well worked goal that showed what the side are capable of; but there was an overriding sense of too little, too late.
Even those dreamers who ‘never say never’ will have been shocked by what happened next. Foley's goal acted as a consolation; one piece of good football on a bad day. But when Steven Fletcher stole in with a diving header at the far post in the 77th minute, Molineux was suddenly alive. 13 minutes to save the day; who will be the hero?
Unfortunately for the supporters that stuck around til the bitter end were to be disappointed. Another three points goes begging against a side that Wolves should really be testing, especially at home. The most frustrating part is that for the last 20 minutes, they played some excellent football that could have won them the game if it had kicked in a little earlier.
Still, there is always the next game; and that sees a tough trip to Blackpool where McCarthy's men really must take three points.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.