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Wolves 4-2 Millwall

By Tom Bason
May 2 2015

Wolves' promotion hopes finally came to an end, on the final day of the season despite a 4-2 victory over Millwall. Wolves scored first through Nouha Dicko, who doubled the lead with a fine solo goal. Aiden O’Brien pulled one back for Millwall, before Ethan Ebanks-Landell restored the two goal advantage. Substitute Jamie Philpot made it 3-2, but Bakary Sako had the last word, scoring with almost the last kick of the game to secure a 4-2 win.

- Kenny Jackett made one change to the side that won at Wigan Athletic last week, with Rajiv van La Parra coming in for Jack Price. This saw Dave Edwards shift inside alongside Kevin McDonald in central midfield, with an attacking and pacy front four. Millwall matched the formation, playing 4-4-2 in Neil Harris's first permanent match in charge. 

- Whether it was the freedom on already being relegated, or the 'new manager bounce', Millwall started the game the better, looking to get the ball down and play, without ever really threatening. Nadjim Abdou looked to break into the box from central midfield, while Ed Upson drifted off the left wing to find pockets of space in between our defence and midfield, similar to the way that Bo-Kyung Kim did for Wigan last week. This is very much the issue with 4-4-2, with opposition players often finding the space between the lines to cause problems. 

- On the hand, we looked about as disjointed as we often have when playing 4-4-2. The gap between the strike pairing of Benik Afobe and Nouha Dicko and the central midfield was huge. Any ball up to them that was not instantly controlled was almost certain to be lost due to the lack of midfield support. Afobe is always the player out of the two who drops off, but then inevitably ends up too far out of the box when we actually work the ball towards it. Going forward into next season, I'm not convinced a strike pairing of these two is the answer, and I'd be looking to bring in a Michael Jacobs type player to play off one of them. 

- Millwall played quite a high defensive line, and one of our primary sources of threat was getting trying to get Dicko in behind. This often came from a Kevin McDonald through ball, but he was playing the balls from so far away that they had to be inch perfect and never quite were. Dicko, who was excellent again by the way, didn't help; he always had the beating of Mark Beevers and Sid Nelson for pace, but was caught offside far too often. This seemed to be catching, when in the second half Edwards was caught offside when he just needed to look along the line and keep himself on. 

- We took the lead at half time through Dicko, but it was Bakary Sako, in probably his last game in a Wolves shirt, who was the driving force behind it. He picked ball up deep, and ran into Millwall's box, beating players with strength, pace and skill. He was crowded out at the end, but the ball found its way to Dicko, who turned the ball home. At that point, we were in the playoffs. Sako had one of those frustrating games when he tried to do too much, not necessarily out of selfishness but because he wanted to win the game. I voted for him to win player of the season (my reasons for doing so can be found here), with his solo lap of honour at the end almost certainly the last we will see of him in a Wolves shirt. It was fitting that his last action was to score from a shot when he probably should have crossed - his 36th league goal for the club; only Steve Bull, Kenny Miller and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake have scored more in the last 25 years. As long as he doesn't end up down the road at West Brom, I think every Wolves fan would shake Sako's hand, thank him, and wish him well for the future. 

- At half time, Millwall changed formation to 4-5-1; Aiden O'Brien moved out to the right wing, Lee Martin switched to the left and Ed Upton tucked inside. This gave Millwall slightly more control of the game, although it was Wolves who grabbed the second goal thanks to a stunning run and finish from Nouha Dicko, beating a couple of players and firing into the top corner. But the lead didn't last, Tomasz Kuszczak only able to push a free kick wide of the goal, with O'Brien poking home the resulting cross. By this point, the jig was probably up. I never know how aware the players are of other scores when they're playing, but we started to quicken the play and attack more, something that was missing in the first half. 

- Kenny Jackett shifted formation, bringing on Jack Price for Rajiv van La Parra. While on the face of it this is a defensive change, it resulted in Edwards and Sako pushing further forward, although slightly marginalising Afobe who was moved out to the right. Afobe had a weird game, looking quite lethargic towards the end when stuck on the right hand side. He kept dribbling past players, but then seemed not to have the energy to do anything. Saying that, he poked wide after an excellent run into the penalty area, and drew the foul that led to the third goal - Ethan Ebanks-Landell turning home after Sako's low free kick was not cleared. 

- At 3-1 there was half a chance, with two Wolves corners leading to the game finishing 4-2. I quite like that we tried lots of different types of corner today, it's far better than just chucking the ball into the box and hoping for the best. We tried short corners we tried the passed corner into the player waiting on the penalty spot, and a Beckham to Scholes type corner. However, was Sako's attempt to find McDonald was cleared, Millwall counter attacked and scored a goal that was horrible from a defensive point of view. Firstly, Jack Price let the ball roll across the six-yard box, clearly having no idea of what was behind him, then Kuszczak dived over the ball as substitute Jamie Philpot slid the ball in. But at the eighth time of asking we scored from a corner - Afobe taking it short to Sako, who dribbled into the box and fired underneath goalkeeper David Forde from a narrow angle. 

- Finally, Sako is not the only player to have played his final game in a Wolves shirt – on the bench was Kevin Doyle. People who’ve read my match reports for a while will know of my deep and unerring love for Doyler – for the first season and a half he was absolutely superb and one of the major reasons why we stayed up in 2009/10 season. His performance against Liverpool at Molineux that season was one of the best performances I’ve seen from a Wolves striker, he completely bullied Martin Škrtel and Sotirios Kyrgiakos as we gained a vital point. It’s a pity that in the dying moments of the game, with the playoffs gone, he was not introduced for Sako to allow everyone at Molineux to applaud them both.

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Wolves 4-2 Millwall
Wolves (IP Logged)
02/05/2015 17:02
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Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2015:07:21:14:33:41 by Badge32.

Re: Wolves 4-2 Millwall
an angry wolf (IP Logged)
02/05/2015 17:43
Cheers for the report TOm. I'd agree with your assessment over Sako being player of the season with Dicko not far behind surely but Doyle doesn't deserve a send off in my view. In the last few years he has looked lethargic, uninterested and contributed hardly anything whilst draining considerable wages from the club relative to his limited ability. He may have a photogenic face allowing him to easily slip into this good guy reputation he apparently has but I haven't forgotten his interview where he basically stated he found it hard on his weekly wage of 15 grand plus to "motivate himself". Infact its partially down to Doyles dreadful goal scoring record we found ourselves slip from the premiership to the third tier in the first place so lets not bury our heads in the sand with the one good season he had 5 years ago and forget the rest.

Re: Wolves 4-2 Millwall
toomb (IP Logged)
02/05/2015 17:52
That's one way of looking it.

I think it means something that despite the huge wages he was on, when Jackett arrived, he wasn't part of the 'bomb squad'

toomb's twitter

Re: Wolves 4-2 Millwall
petewolf (IP Logged)
03/05/2015 12:16
just saw the goals, their's came from two mistakes by kuszcak, bit of shame really. i thought we could have attacked a bit from the start to give us a real chance, we knew we needed at least 5 but it was always goner be a big ask

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