Blake’s heaven! Let’s hope Wolves can now build on this. (©PAphotos)
by Rory Hall
, read by 98 people.
For all the effort and endeavour over the last month, Wolves still tried as hard as they could to avoid victory at home once again. The big difference this time round was their ability to finish what they started.
The pressure was well and truly on here.
As has been the way for Wolves this month, home and away, the start was tense, scrappy and difficult to watch. Darren Bent's pace was causing the back four all kinds of trouble and Premier League old boy Bolo Zenden was causing a few problems from midfield.
Mick McCarthy had made changes to his side before kick-off; a sign that he wasn't really happy with his players' performances leading up to this game. After a nightmare display against Blackpool, American 'keeper Marcus Hahnemann lost his place in the side to Wales youngster Wayne Hennessey - who has spoken recently about a need for regular first team football that may take him away from the club.
Other changes to the side came in the shape of Nenad Milijas replacing Stephen Hunt, Ronald Zubar filling in for injured captain Karl Henry and Stephen Ward making an appearance due to Christophe Berra's suspension.
Sunderland's second most potent goal-scorer this season started on the bench and this will have been a relieving sight for Wolves and McCarthy. But Manchester United loanee Danny Welbeck, who has started to show real class in recent weeks, started with Bent up front and looked to relish any chance to run at the back four.
The first half ended up being a rather terse encounter with some half-chances coming and going for either side but an opening couldn't be forced.
The two major flashpoints of the first half saw Richard Stearman have his goal disallowed for a non-existent infringement and Kieran Richardson, hit the inside of Hennessey’s left hand post with a beautifully taken free-kick.
Having seen it through until half time without conceding, but without scoring either, the fans had every right to be nervous. How many times recently have the second 45 minutes been the downfall of their side? The answer, in all honesty, is too many.
So, imagine the relief when, only five minutes into the second half, McCarthy's men managed to convert a chance into a goal.
He's not really known for his goalmouth prowess, but Kevin Foley bagged his second of the season with a fantastic strike; hitting an unstoppable strike into the far corner after Craig Gordon had saved from Matt Jarvis.
Cue capitulation of almost epic proportions.
Instead of building on their lead, using it to pressure the away side, they held onto it for a mere 17 minutes. Of all people to make the mistake, it had to be Richard Stearman. The defender failed to control a long ball and allowed Darren Bent to steal in and slot past Hennessey. Things only got worse ten minutes later when Danny Welbeck rose to meet Phil Bardsley's cross and directed his header perfectly inside the far post.
The feeling of disappointment was palpable in Molineux.. Another lead given away and, surely another loss on the cards. For once, they couldn't have been more wrong and, to their credit, they stuck around to find out.
The turning point of the match was initiated when McCarthy made his final substitutions; his final play to retrieve something from the game. On came Stephen Hunt for David Jones and then Sylvan Ebanks-Blake in place of Michael Mancienne; the boss knew something had to happen. Fast.
The impact was almost immediate as Stephen Hunt found himself onside about two yards off the goal-line when George Elokobi's header landed at his feet; he finished to the delight of the home crowd; a point had been salvaged.
It had been an electric second half with four goals and end to end attacking; but there was to be a final sting in the tail; one that would see Wolves fans go home happy for the first time since the Manchester City game.
Entering the final seconds of normal time, a long, hopeful ball up the left wing found Kevin Doyle and he clipped an excellent ball to the unmarked Ebanks-Blake inside the area. The striker powered the ball in typical fashion past Craig Gordon to send Molineux into raptures and seal valuable points.
This win by no means sees Wolves out of trouble, but if they can use it as a platform upon which to build there may still be hope yet.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.