Wolves were always giving themselves a mountain to climb when they conceded in the first 20 seconds. It was a well worked move by Reading, but you shouldn’t be on the back foot like that in the opening stages, especially at home.
Several changes to the side saw Dicko, Price, Iorfa and Golbourne dropped to the bench, with Wolves starting Doherty and Hause at fullback, Evans alongside McDonald and Afobe as a lone front man. Tomasz Kuszczak also made his Wolves debut in goal, who would have preferred his first act between the sticks not to be picking the ball out the net.
Despite the squad rotation, the players looked tired and struggled once again to play with intensity. Even Sako, back in the side following international duty, struggled to have his usual impact. It felt like Jackett rested some of the wrong players given the form the likes of McDonald and Batth have been in recent weeks. Despite Edwards’ purple patch of goals at the start of January, his flaws are more apparent when Wolves need to take the game to the opposition as he isn’t the creative outlet the team is crying out for.
Wolves got an equaliser with probably their first meaningful chance of the match. Good build up play down the right saw Van La Parra whip a cross in for Afobe to head in a the near post. Afobe is already starting to show why Jackett was willing to pay £2 million for the teenager. Though he was starved of service for most parts of the game, he made the most of what he had. His direct running and excellent close control has definitely given Dicko some competition and the two could be an excellent strike partnership if we chose to play two strikers.
Wolves did grow into the game in the first half as Federici pulled off a wonderful save to stop Sako from scoring. But apart from that and the goal, Wolves struggled to muster any clear cut chances. Jackett called for more goals from the side prior to the match and will be angered by the fact they only had three shots on target all game.
Reading regrouped after the break and took control of the game. They were more resolute as a defensive unit and moved the ball far quicker than Wanderers. Their efforts were awarded in the 70th minute when Williams fired home from outside of the box. Though it was an excellent finish, Wolves needed to do more with the initial clearance and should have done more to win the second ball before he fired home.
In the last 20 minutes Wolves tried to take the game to Reading but to no avail. Reading defended well, crowding out the likes of Sako to not allow him space. The Royals also had opportunities to extend their lead on the counter-attack. Wolves looked bereft of ideas and couldn’t muster a chance in the closing stages.
The team looked tired and it looks like the size of the squad is catching up with Jackett. We have a small squad and players in key positions have been overused and are burning out. Wolves have three midfielders competing for two positions; with Evans and Price still developing as players, another midfielder is needed. It is a similar situation with the strikers with Dicko and Afobe are only first team strikers excluding Doyle. Jackett has the act quickly and effectively when the loan window opens.