For those hoping that last week’s win against Sheffield Wednesday would give Wolves some momentum building into the festive games, it was not the case on Saturday.
For the first half an hour of the match, Wolves could barely string three passes together. They were sluggish and lack any imagination on the ball, looking like they had been on their Christmas party on the Friday night.
With Brighton only playing one up front, you would have thought at least one of the defenders would have picked up Darren Bent for Brighton’s opener. Bent only had one chance the whole game, but unlike The Wanderers centre forwards; he’s clinical enough to take his opportunities when they come.
Brighton had done their homework on Wolves. With Iofa and Hause, both primarily centre backs, playing out of position at fullback, Brighton exploited our narrow defensive shape in the first half. They also pressed Kevin McDonald, not allowing him time to get his head up and get Wolves moving.
The only saving grace in the first half was Bakary Sako, who dragged Wolves back into the game. He had three good chances to bring Wolves level and drove at the Seagulls defence, giving us some penetration going forward rather than aimless balls to no one in particular.
At half time, Wolves made a double substitution, both of which made a significant impact on the game. Jack Price came on for James Henry with Edward pushing further forward and fit again Nouha Dicko a straight swap with Danny Graham up front.
Price had a point to prove after being sent out on loan after being shunted down the pecking order. And boy did he prove it. He gave the team exactly what we had being missing the last few weeks, a calm head in possession and tenacious closing down while keeping his position. His through ball for a chance for Dicko was exquisite, threading it through an eye of the needle. Following his performanceon Saturday, it’s hard not to see him starting one of the next two games.
Dicko also had an eventful 45 minutes. Not long after coming on, the striker went down after trying to round David Stockdale in goal. The referee pointed to the spot then changed his mind after a lengthy consultation with his linesman, awarding Brighton a freekick and booking Dicko for diving. From first viewing, I thought Dicko went down very lightly; but the Man in Black must have a lot of faith in his lines man to completely overrule himself.
Brighton were reduced to 10 men soon after, with Greer being send off for a needless and reckless two-footed challenge. Unlike Wolves against Bournemouth, Brighton didn’t sit back on their lead with 10 men and continued to move the ball about effectively.
Wolves grew into the game, creating numerous chances and were rewarded with a scrappy goal. As the corner came in, the ball dropped at the feet of Danny Batth who managed to get it out of his feet to send the ball into the back of the net and send the fans wild.
Wolves continued to mount pressure on Brighton, who at this point were looking to leave Molineux with an draw. But the Wanderers could break down the Seagulls as the match ended one a piece.
Wolves will probably feel this is two points lost considering the amount of chances that were created in the second half. But with The Wanderers being so poor in the opening exchanges, it could have been a different story if Brighton could have found Darren Bent more often in the first half.
With Wolves have two games in three days at the end of the week, they need to sort out their defensive frailties as Watford and Brentford (as we know all too well) can score for fun.