Wolves pegged back by late equaliser
There was the rare sound of disappointment amongst Wolves fans at Molineux this season, as Norwich found an equaliser with almost the last kick of the game. In truth it had been a goal that had looked like coming throughout the second half and a bright opening had long since faded for Wolves before that late sucker punch.
It was another unchanged starting line up for Wolves;
Bennett, Coady, Boly
Doherty, Neves, N'Diaye, Douglas
Costa, Jota, Cavaleiro
It took Wolves just 14 minutes to find the break through. A superb first time pass by Neves sent Jota away in the inside left position and the striker hit his shot across goal and against the far post with defender Lewis then unable to avoid turning it in to his own net. Wolves were looking comfortable in their lead with Neves turning it on in midfield and they went close with a Barry Douglas long range shot. And then Douglas set up the second when his inswinging corner was headed firmly in by N'Diaye.
It all looked plain sailing for Wolves at this stage but just before the half hour Norwich got a surprise equaliser. A free kick from the left resulted in Zimmerman getting in a glancing header on the near post that went across Ruddy and in to the far corner. There was more bad news for Wolves soon afterwards when Neves picked up a yellow card that will result in him getting a two games suspension, missing the away game at Fulham and home game against Reading.
Costa had took a knock late in the first half and didn't come out for the second period with Saiss the replacement. That meant a change in set up for Wolves and it was more a 3-5-2 now with Saiss and N'Diaye playing either side of Neves, and Jota and Cavaleiro left up front. It was a formation that looked far from comfortable but Wolves could have put the game to bed when Doherty got forward on the right and squared to Cavaleiro who side footed wide. Afobe then replaced Cavaleiro but the substitutions were not helping, and Norwich were having a lot of possession and Watkins had a shot saved by a diving Ruddy.
Gibbs White then came on instead of N'Diaye and started to make a real impact running at the Norwich defence. One of his passes across goal was just cut out by the keeper with Doherty hovering. But the visitors by now were looking increasingly threatening with Maddison behind most of their best play. Then following a defensive error Gibbs White gets clean through and after turning a defender he had the choice of shooting or squaring to Jota but did neither and lost the ball as he tried to turn back to his right.
But it was a nervy Wolves in the final minutes as Norwich pinned them back with a series of corners and there is a goalmouth scramble after Ruddy blocks a Maddison shot and then the Norwich keeper came forward to try to get onto another corner. Wolves survived that but in the 93rd minute sub Oliveira tried his luck from 30 yards and his effort beat Ruddy.
Ruddy 6 - generally did well on the night but many felt he should have kept out the late equaliser that wasn't hit with blinding power
Bennett 7 - had another steady game at the back
Coady 7 - maintained his consistent form.
Boly 7 - almost let in Norwich early as he let a through ball go through not realising there was a player behind him, but did well afterwards
Doherty 6 - more of a defensive role for much of the game as Norwich forced Wolves onto the back foot
Neves 7 - great pass to set up the first goal and had other good moments in a crowded midfield
N'Diaye 7 - covered a lot of ground in a hard working performance and took his goal well
Douglas - 6 had a couple of decent shots but not allowed to get forward much
Costa 6 - a couple of good runs before picking up a knock and not coming out for the second half
Jota 7 - a constant threat in the first half but less impact when asked to play deeper once Afobe came on
Saiss 6 - steady enough game but a strange choice to replace Costa in a formation change that left Wolves looking very disjointed
Afobe 5 - not effective and another substitution that made Wolves look worse not better
Gibbs White 7 - probably Wolves best player in the 20 minutes he was on the field and looks a fine prospect.
A second successive draw for Wolves and not one where they impressed after Norwich scored in the 27th minute. The visitors had a lot of possession in the last hour and deserved their point although its always a sickener when it comes so late. The substitutions of Saiss for Costa and Afobe for Cavaleiro didn't help the cause at all from an attacking sense and Wolves were hanging on in the later stages after appearing to have the game wrapped up after 25 minutes.
Now they face on form Fulham away on Saturday before Reading come to Molineux on March 3rd. Both those games they will be looking to get back to winning ways without the suspended Neves, and it will be a choice between the more solid pairing of N'Diaye and Saiss or to give youngster Gibbs White the chance to step up.
So some disappointment from this game, more than tempered by a look at the league table which shows a 13 point lead, with 13 games left, to third place. Mind the gap Aston Villa!