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Wolves 2-2 Bolton Wanderers

By Tom Bason
February 2 2016

Wolves let a two goal lead slip against Bolton Wanderers tonight. Joe Mason scored with his first touch in a Wolves shirt, and James Henry appeared to have wrapped up the points with a goal in the 77th minute. But Wellington Silva pulled one back, and Stephen Dobbie equalised with two minutes to go.

- Jeez that was bad. I mean absolutely mind numbingly awful. And I'm just saying that because we gave up the two points, even before that it was dire. I've seen some bad games at Molineux but this was definitely up there. At the start of the original Three Lions song, there's a piece of Trevor Brooking and Jimmy Hill commentary saying "we're not creative enough, we're not positive enough... We'll go on getting bad results". 20 years on, that applies to this Wolves team. 

- Kenny Jackett gave Joe Mason his debut, playing in the hole behind Björn Sigurðarson. On the right was Rajiv van La Parra, and on the left was Tommy Rowe. Every so often, Kenny likes to throw in a curve ball, and pick a player for the first team who has not been on anyone's radar for quite a while. I mean, that was Rowe's first Wolves league appearance since BOXING DAY 2014. And how many times have we tried to get rid of van La Parra this season alone? Three months ago, if you'd told me we would have a left hand side of Tommy Rowe and Matt Doherty, Rajiv van La Parra on the right and Björn Sigurðarson upfront, I'd have thought you were mad.

- First of all the positives. Joe Mason scored with what I think may have been his first touch of the ball in a Wolves shirt, and James Henry scored quite a nice goal to put us 2-0 up. Let's move on to the negatives. Joe Mason scored with what I think may have been his only touch of the ball in a Wolves shirt so far and the most surprising thing of this game was not that we let a 2-0 lead slip, but that we were 2-0 up in the first place.

- We have completely change our style of play. We used to play a passing game, that looked to get the ball into Kevin McDonald, Jack Price and Lee Evans in midfield, who'd then use it to push us up the pitch, getting the ball wide to the wingers. Yes, we'd often go backwards and that would be frustrating, but there'd be a plan. This has completely changed. There is no effort to pass the ball, the first thought for defenders is to launch it long. This is epitomised when we win a free kick in our half; in the past, McDonald and Price would have got the ball quickly and started passing the ball. Now when we get those free kicks, Carl Ikeme trots forward and launches it forward.

- This is not to say that hoof ball isn't a legitimate tactic, the likes of Sam Allardyce and Tony Pulis have obviously used it well. Hell, we did in League 1, when long balls would be sent to Michael Jacobs on the wing who'd inevitably win the header. This worked nicely, because Jacobs could direct the header more as the ball would be coming at him at a diagonal angle, rather than with his back to the goal. But today, that was what we did. On the rare occasions that Sigurðarson wasn't offside (reckon he and Żyro have a bet to see who can be flagged offside the most), he would flick the ball to on, to absolutely no one. There is no point in Sigurðarson flicking a ball on if there isn't a Wolves shirt anywhere in that direction. It automatically gives the ball back to Bolton.

- But a note on Bolton. I thought they played really well. Given their situation, they could have easily lost their heads after going 1-0 down so early, but they didn't. They kept plugging away, and moved the ball well. I thought that they looked fine until they got to 30 yards away from our goal, and then didn't seem to know what to do. But they kept going, and thoroughly deserved to pull a goal back. That it was a header scored a 5’8” winger says it all. And once they’d scored that one, there was only going to be one team who’d get another. Right before Stephen Dobbie took the deflected freekick, I leant over to my dad and reminded him of Mark Davies scoring a last minute equaliser in a game that I think was the key result of the Ståle Solbakken era. What I’ve just realised by looking up that report is that Benik Afobe had scored for Bolton that night.

- I bet they wish they could play us every week, 19% of their points and 15% of their goals have come against us this season. 

- On the odd occasions we did attack, there was nothing going on. Tommy Rowe, I think was supposed to be playing on the left side of midfield, but spent less time there than Michael Jacobs used to. I was happy to see Rowe in the side as I hate having a team of all right footers, I think having left footers opens up the pitch a lot more. But given how narrow he played, we may as well have played a right footer there. And Matt Doherty is never going to offer overlapping width on the left. We had no real attacking threat whatsoever down the left, which puts a lot of pressure on van La Parra over on the right hand side. Now, I’m not the biggest fan of van La Parra – when I wrote the Wolves player profiles for the Birmingham City match day programme last season, my friend made me temper what I wrote about him. And he is so frustrating. But at least he tries to do something. He was the only player we had who actually tried to do something different, something a little unexpected. Yes, more often than not he lost the ball. But so did everyone else who tried to play it safe.

- So basically, every player was poor. If this was a game of Football Manager, no one would get a rating of over 5.5. But more than players being poor, I thought that players were hesitant and massively lacking confidence. Sometimes, a team can play poorly because it’s just a bad day at the office. Today, the players looked scared to do anything. As soon as they got the ball, it was either taking two or three touches and moving it too slowly, or getting rid of it straight away with long aimless passes. To me, this suggests that there is something wrong with the team, and Kenny Jackett has a bit of a job on his hands to turn it around.

- There's a fans parliament in a week or so. I think we all know what will be raised, but anything in particular, put it down here

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Wolves 2-2 Bolton Wanderers
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02/02/2016 23:07
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