Wolves
Wolves 1-3 Cardiff City
By Tom Bason
January 16 2016

Wolves winning run came to an abrupt halt with a 3-1 reversal at home to Cardiff City. A Craig Noone double gave Cardiff control of the first half, and despite Michał Żyro halving the deficit, Joe Ralls wrapped the game up early in the second half.

- Kenny Jackett selected the same team that beat Fulham on Tuesday, in the same formation. This meant that Conor Coady we again on the right side of midfield, while the new strike pairing of Rajiv van La Parra and Michał Żyro were given another time go. Cardiff lined up in a 4-4-1-1 formation, with Joe Mason playing just in behind Anthony Pilkington.

- Having Coady on the right and Jordan Graham on the left meant that, unsurprisingly the vast majority of our attacking play came down the left hand side. Already, Graham is an integral part of the team, to the extent that it's difficult to imagine any other players really having the same level of creative burden. This was magnified today with Coady having the right hand side. This was fine on Tuesday when we were defending deep and looking to use the pace of van La Parra and Żyro in behind on the break, but fairly useless when we went behind so early and needed to attack. 

- All of Cardiff's goals were well hit from outside the area, but my first impressions were that Carl Ikeme could have done better with the two of them. While the first may have swerved, it was hit from a distance outside the area, and appeared to go into the goal in the centre. The second was a terrific strike that I don't think he could have done better with, but the third was really a poke towards goal that I'm not sure should have gone in from that distance. The goalkeeping question has been contentious this season, and personally, I feel that Martínez is the better keeper of the two. If we could reinvest some of the Benik Afobe money on Martínez, I think I'd be happy with that. Otherwise, we are going to have a situation where either the better keeper is on the bench, or we are playing him in the knowledge that we won't have him next season and may well be reliant on Ikeme again. 

- Wolves did pull a goal back just before half time, and I think that referee Dean Whitestone deserves some credit for playing advantage in the build up to the goal. We countered, but Graham was fouled. Instead of giving the free kick, advantage was given and van La Parra was able to carry the ball forward and cut back onto his right foot and shoot. Goalkeeper David Marshall made a fairly regulation save, but could spill the ball out to Żyro who tapped in for his third goal in as many games. While having a Pole who scores goals is only 10 years too late, is anyone else a bit worried that if he keeps this up, he, along with the returning Bjorn Sigurðarson will be the only Afobe replacements?

- A frustration in the final five minutes of the first half was that left back Scott Malone was shown a yellow card; I'd have looked to get Graham over to the right hand side to attack him in the knowledge that Malone couldn't really dive into any tackles. But Graham stayed on the left, where he was tangling Lee Peltier up, and Coady stuck to the right. This was rectified slightly at half time, as James Henry came on for Coady to give some more attacking threat down the right, but I don't think Henry ever really got into the game, and it was only later when van La Parra switched to the right that we finally looked dangerous down that side. I don't think our current right hand woes are helped by a dip in form by Dominic Iorfa. This happens so often to look young players, getting 'second season syndrome'. I wonder if a spell out the team might do him some good.

- In the second half, the optimism lasted about three minutes, the time it took Joe Ralls to make it 3-1 to Cardiff. I'm struggling to remember any real chances created; Ethan Ebanks-Landell put a header narrowly wide, while a James Henry low cross evaded everyone. I couldn't help but think that we lacked a left footed attacking option, with Michal Żyro being the only left footed player in the starting line-up. The issue with playing Matt Doherty at left back is that going forward, he's always going to drive inside onto his right foot, and when he does go down the outside, he's generally going to try and use his left foot. In front of him, Graham will use his left foot to cross, but is more comfortable on his right. I wish we had a left footed fullback who would run beyond Graham and provide that width when Graham chooses to cut inside. This was exacerbated in the second half when Henry was playing on the left, with neither he nor Doherty providing any real width at all.

- Henry was on the left because of injury to Jordan Graham, who has been an absolute breath of fresh air since coming into the side, and I don't want to think about where we'd be if not for his assists. When Graham when down, the ball worked it's way to Doherty, and for some reason, instead of kicking the ball out, he decided to pick it up. I think a yellow card for that would have been harsh; he wasn't really trying to gain an advantage, but I'm not sure what was going through his head at that point. Graham was replaced by 17-year-old Bright Enobakhare (who was born in 1998. Boy does that make me feel old), who moved upfront with Żyro and van La Parra switching to the right. Enobakhare did ok when he came on, had a couple of shots that were blocked, but I got the impression that the pace of the game surprised him a little, with him not having the time to play that he may have playing Under 21 football.