Town 1 - 4 Wolves
Dicko (12) Coady (O.G 46), Afobe (61), Vaughan (63), Dicko (90)
7:45pm Tuesday 10th February 2015
(442) Smithies; Smith, Hudson, Wallace, Robinson; Coady, Butterfield, Scannell, Bunn; Vaughan, Miller
Walking out of the John Smith's last night, many wondered how Town lost by the scoreline they did. However, the simple fact is the quality of players and despite Town having numerous chances, Tomasz Kuszczak was rarely at full stretch, making several routine saves.
The main difference was in formation. Kenny Jackett set up his side in a 4-2-3-1 formation, which with Town going 4-4-2, left an extra man in midfield for Wolves. It was no surprise that Kevin McDonald was pulling the strings for most of the game in midfield and once again not to see Chris Powell make a tactical tweak to solve the problem.
Wolves also had pace and power up front and took advantage of Town on the break and of a centre-back partnership that turns slower than the QE2. Quite often Wolves outnumbered Town's defence on the break and could've and should've scored more.
Individual mistakes also cost Town dearly. Jacob Butterfield's aimless pass ended up with Nouha Dicko slotting past the onrushing Smithies to notch an early opener and Wolves second was through an unfortunate Coady own goal from a early second half corner.
Benik Afobe scored the third with Wolves hitting Town on the counter and some comedy defending on the deck by Town's centre-backs nullified Smithies initial save. James Vaughan did pull one back with a good finish from a Scannell cut back but Dicko sealed a brace on the counter again as Town's defence seemed to fall asleep.
Smithies -6- Did nothing wrong despite conceding four goals. Made the odd save but wasn't largely tested and did well sweeping up and covering for a cumbersome defence.
Smith -5- Poor. It was nice to see the former Man City man back after being flown out of the stadium in the Air Ambulance ten days ago. However, he was distinctly average in defence and poorer going forward.
Hudson -5- Imperious in the air, struggling with the pace of the Championship. Still knows how to put in a tackle, Benik Afobe felt his full force.
Wallace -4.5- Flat footed, slow and caught out of position. Patience amongst fans is running thin for the Scottish youngster who needs to significantly improve and fast.
Robinson -6.5- Took a bit of time to get used to facing the impressive Van La Parra and dealt with the Wolves wingers swapping flanks. Defensively good again and made the odd good run forward. Definitely Town's best outfield player.
Scannell -6- Town's best attacking outlet had his man's number. Yet once again despite getting into good positions his end product was once disappointing for the most part.
Bunn -5.5- Had his opposite number Doherty in trouble at times but lacks the raw pace and delivery to be a winger in a 4-4-2. Left Robinson isolated occasionally too.
Coady -5- A good first half fell to pieces after 50 seconds in the second when he headed in an own goal. Struggled in the centre of the park as Town failed to cope with Wolves extra man in midfield.
Butterfield -5- Has to to the donkey work in a two man central midfield that doesn't quite suit his game. At fault for the first goal and like Coady, gave the ball away far too often.
Vaughan -6- A decent performance which culminated in a well deserved goal. Closed down well, battled in the air with aplomb and caused many problems for the Wolves backline.
Miller -5- An OK full debut and tested the opposition keeper twice. Yet looked rusty, struggled to trap the ball and was disappointing in the air.
Lolley -5- Given more than five minutes for once and once again showed flashes of his talent. Let down badly by Smith who failed to spot any of his runs.
Edgar - Not enough time to do anything of note.
Know Your Enemy
If you didn't know already, throughout this season, Thrice Champions will be getting the views of opposition fans, bloggers and podcasters so you know the story behind the club they know so much about.
Ahead of our home fixture with Wolves at the John Smith's, we spoke to Richard Hobbs who is involved with the Wolves Podcast and was a fellow nominee in the Football Blog Awards in the best new blog category.
Here's what he had to say to our questions...
TC: After initially storming into the Championship, Wolves have settled into being a top half side. Is this where you expected to be with just three months of the season left?
RH: More or less yes. At the start of the season I thought we’d finish 10th, so to be in 8th in February is very good. I can’t see us creating a run of four or five wins on the bounce but at the same time I highly doubt we’ll slip out of the top half come May.
TC: Wolves are currently on an indifferent run, what do you put that down to?
RH: We have a relatively small squad and some of the first choice players are starting to tire. Someone like Kevin McDonald, who’s played all but one league game, is looking in need of a rest; unfortunately we don’t have the personnel to afford to rest him without us suffering. We have also been without Bakary Sako in the past few weeks, who is our main creative spark and we look a different side without him in the team.
TC: What would you say your side is still lacking and what needed addressing in the transfer window just gone?
RH: We lack at a creative midfielder and an “old head” in the middle of the park. When the opposition sit back more, especially at home, we don’t have anyone you can play the killer through-ball. In centre midfield, we have Kevin McDonald and two players fairly inexperience at this level and we’ve been crying out for an experience holding midfielder to allow McDonald to express himself more and guide the young players through a match.
In the window, we needed a striker and probably a creative player. Wolves got highly-rated Benik Afobe from Arsenal and Jackett will argue after securing Sako until the end of the season, we don’t necessary need another attacking play. We also managed to get Roger Johnson off the wage bill, who was earning a King’s ransom for doing nothing. On the whole the window wasn’t too bad, but we do need to exploit the loan market.
TC: What realistic chances do you think there are of a play-off charge this season?
RH: I can’t see us scoring enough goals to get into the top six. Our goal difference is so inferior to the teams above us it’s effectively an extra point in their favour. We still have to play six of the teams above us so if Wolves could get a couple of wins from those games you never know. I think most Wolves would agree, but I don’t want us to get promoted this season. If by some miracle we went up, so much investment would be needed to the squad we’d almost certainly come straight back down.
TC: Which Wolves player should Huddersfield fans worry about?
RH: Bakary Sako can create a chance of out nothing when he fancies it. The problem is, you get 20 minutes of him on top form and then will be anonymous for the rest of the match. Nouha Dicko is a constant nuisance for defenders and is probably our main goal threat.
TC: Which Huddersfield player do you think Wolves fans should worry about?
RH: I really like Jacob Butterfield, who had a great game down Molineux earlier in the season. We had Jack Robinson on loan a couple of seasons ago and looks a solid defender at this level
TC: What is your prediction for Tuesday?
RH: I’ll go 1-1. Wolves have a terrible record against you guys but I’d never like to say Wolves will lose!