Wolves just keep on winning
Wolves secured a 6th successive victory when they beat Birmingham City at St Andrews on Monday night. Its a run of results that has seen them strengthen their position in the league considerably and there is now a 10 point gap to third place and the promotion push could not be going much better.
Wolves went into this derby game without the suspended Ruben Neves and called on Alfred N'Diaye as a replacement;
Bennett, Coady, Boly
Doherty, N'Diaye, Saiss, Douglas
Cavaleiro, Bonatini, Jota
As the game started the away fans part of the stands were packed solid but there were plenty of empty seats in the home areas to reflect how the season has been going for the two clubs. And Wolves started the brighter with Boly almost getting on the end of a Jota cross as they dictated the early exchanges. And after 8 minutes they were ahead. Grounds gave the ball away in his own half to give Cavaleiro a shooting opportunity which brought a diving save out of Stockdale in the Birmingham goal. The ball then fell to Jota who hit a powerful volley which the keeper again did well to block. But then it fell to Bonatini to volley at goal. The ball was cleared by a Birmingham defender but from the wrong side of the goal line and technology showed Wolves were ahead.
It was a feisty game and not for the first time this season Jota was the target for some rough treatment. Roberts was lucky to avoid a yellow card for a tackle from behind and then made an even worse challenge to earn a yellow card that many felt should have been a red. But despite these incidents Wolves were playing some sparkling football and from the best move of the game Jota played a one-two with Bonatini before playing in Cavaleiro who bought another good save out of Stockdale. Then Doherty gets away on the right and his low cross is just cut out before reaching Bonatini.
The second half proved to be a different story with Wolves struggling to get any cohesion to their game and Blues were starting to get a lot more of the ball in midfield but yet were not creating opportunities. And Wolves had a golden opportunity when sub Costa was sent through with the keeper to beat but fluffed his lines. The game was not getting any less feisty and N'Diaye lost his rag when facing up to one Blues player and then pushing another. Just a yellow for the midfielder but it could have been red. Then another flare up with Jota and Roberts squaring up before Dean, who was already on a yellow pushed the Wolves striker over to earn his second yellow and a red.
Going down to ten men ended the Blues attempts to rescue the game against a Wolves team that hadn't played well after the first half hour with Neves clearly missed in midfield.
Ruddy 7 - no serious shots to save but collected crosses well.
Bennett 7 - another steady performance on the right of defence
Coady 8 - another impressive display at the heart of the back three
Boly 9 - outstanding on a day when defence outshone attack for Wolves
Doherty 7 - only a couple of forward runs as Wolves were forced on the back foot for much of the last hour
N'Diaye 6 - did ok on his return to the team but could easily have seen red when losing his cool in the second half
Saiss 6 - had a steady game but Wolves were far less effective in midfield without Neves
Douglas 7 - more of a defensive brief today but did the job well and did produce a few dangerous dead ball deliveries
Cavaleiro 7 - really bright in the first half hour but faded out of the game afterwards
Bonatini 7 - his 12th goal of the season already and another to play well in the opening period
Jota 8 - took quite a battering from the Blues defence but still caused them problems throughout the game
Costa replaced Cavaleiro after an hour and looked as though he now needs more game time to get back to his best. Price replaced Bonatini and then Enobakhare replaced Saiss.
Not the most fluent of Wolves displays but its churlish to criticise a team that has added 18 points in its last six games. The league table is looking healthier by the week, and struggling Sunderland will be next to try to stop this juggernaut on Saturday at Molineux.