The League Cup is providing Mick McCarthy with an acid test of his reserve players. Last night, once again at home and against so-called 'weaker' opponents, his team were made to work hard into extra time to seal the victory.
McCarthy decided to go with experience over youth against League One's Notts County, starting the likes of Greg Halford, Christophe Berra, Nenad Milijas, Sylvan Ebanks-Blake and new signing Marcus Bent. It was clear the manager wanted to get the job done in 90 minutes. He wasn't going to get what he wanted.
The first half, although ending goalless, was an eventful affair. Barely three minutes were on the clock when County had the ball in the back of the net courtesy of Lee Hughes; but the former West Brom man was adjudged to be offside.
This was the first warning to the home side that the tie would be anything but easy, and Wolves struggled a little to get the ball down and play.
As time went on, McCarthy's side threatened more but were wasteful in front of goal. Wolves' defensive frailties were once again highlighted as the League One side took a shock lead in the 57th minute.
Second-half substitute Mike Edwards surged down the line and crossed for Hughes to apply the finish.
As the game continued, Wolves were to waste more opportunities to pull the tie level, and they were almost made to pay the ultimate price when Notts County hit them on the break again, this time John Spicer found Hughes in space but his low shot was deflected for a corner by the reliable Wayne Hennessey.
Just as time was seemingly running out for Wolves, they were gifted a way back into the game as Liam Chilvers hauled Berra down inside the box and he saw red. Milijas was given the responsibility and gave Rob Burch no chance with another solid spot-kick.
Extra time was again needed to decide a winner at Molineux, but it didn't take long for Wolves to take advantage of their extra man. McCarthy had taken off Bent and Ebanks-Blake to be replaced by Steven Fletcher and Kevin Doyle respectively.
The two front men combined to give Wolves the lead, playing an inch perfect one-two between each other before the Scot slotted home confidently.
County tried to fight back but were caught out just before the first period of extra time came to an end. Once again, Doyle and Fletcher combined well, the latter's shot palmed directly to Doyle who slotted into an empty net.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.
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