Wolves Close Pre-Season With 5th Win
Wolves signed off a highly impressive pre-season with a 2-1 victory over crack La Liga outfit Athletico Bilbao in front of a healthy crowd at Molineux.
Wovles were well worthy of their victory and the scoreline could have been greater had it not been for a string of saves from impressive Bilabo keepers Raul Fernandez and his namesake Aitor.
With Kevin Doyle sidelined with a slight calf injury, Sylan Ebanks Blake partnered record signing Stephen Fletcher up front and the pair combined to each score and secure victory in the final warm up game.
Wolves were expected to field the line up they are due to start with in the Premiership curtain raiser next week against Stoke. Few will argue, with last seasons tried and trusted defensive duo, Jody Craddock and Christophe Berra in impeccable form. Jelle Van Damme was one of the stand out players at left back in the first half, and on the left side of the midfield in the second half as Wolves, despite dominating, possibly set out to experiment and steady the ship in the second half.
Wolves were out of the gate impressively with Fletcher going close and threatening the opening goal, which ultimately arrived in the 15th minute. Matt Jarvis, a contender for man of the match playing on his opposite side on the right as Stephen Ward opereated the left, started the move that resulted in Fletcher and strike partern Ebanks Blake combining tremendously before FLetcher found himself in a reasonable position which he made the most of with a superb left footed strike.
An admittedly understrength Bilbao side threatened in patches and levelled on 36 minutes.
Wolves stepped up the pace in the second half and could have ran out with a more convincing scoreline after creating numerous chances as they twisted the screw.
Mick kept faith with his first eleven, saving his ten changes until later in the game, aside from George Elokobi who came on at half time to replace Ward after taking a knock to the shoulder.
From the bench, there were stand out perfomrances from Andy Keogh who, after captain Karl Henry has been denied in his efforts on goal, teed up a rejunivinated Ebanks Blake to steal home the winner in the 66th minute. Wolves could have gone on to score more and whilst pre season performances are often not judged on results, Mick McCarthy can take great spirit from not only a result but more importanly a very good performance from his side.
The healthy attendance of 17,500 will take particular optimism into our first game against Stoke City next week if this performance is a sign of things to come.
New York City Wolf