Huddersfield 2 Wolves 1 - analysis and pictures

Sooner or later, it had to happen.

Wolves’ chances of a club record fourth successive away win without conceding a goal went up in smoke on Saturday.

And Huddersfield hot-shots Jermaine Beckford and James Vaughan were on fire.

But as much as the former Everton strikers had a devastating effect on Saturday’s result, this defeat has been on the cards for some time.

In the victories at Ipswich and Peterborough, the home teams missed chances to lead before Wolves punished them, while Sheffield Wednesday and Blackburn could have had penalties before Bakary Sako’s match-winning goals.

In the event, it took just 11 minutes for those chickens to come home to roost.

Until Sylvan Ebanks-Blake’s strike in the 63rd minute, Wolves failed to match Huddersfield’s power, strength and tempo as, not for the first time this season, Stale Solbakken’s side were bullied out of their stride.

Just as Leeds and Cardiff did, Huddersfield snapped at Wolves’ heels with relish and hassled them out of their stride to live up to their nickname of the Terriers.

Simon Grayson’s eager side exposed where Wolves are at the moment – a mixture of the Mick McCarthy and Solbakken philosophies, which looks an uncomfortable juncture.

In following the new manager’s principles, the players are trying to pass the ball more and follow a patient build-up.

But the ability of the squad doesn’t convince you they can suddenly start finding the pockets of space and slicing the opposition open with incisive passes.

And the natural instincts of many of these players are to get the ball wide to the wingers in the hope they can sling in crosses.

That should be an area where this team can look to hurt the opposition – there aren’t many teams at this level with the skills of Jermaine Pennant and Sako.

But to make the best use of such potent weapons, you need strikers who are prepared to be far more ruthless and dynamic than Kevin Doyle and Ebanks-Blake were on Saturday. And that was the difference between the sides.

While Beckford and Vaughan continually stretched Wolves’ back four with their power, sharpness and running off the ball, the visitors carried too little threat.

Doyle might have had a penalty when he appeared to be felled in the corner of the box, while he was unlucky when his near-post header hit a defender in the face on the line.

But with just one Wolves goal to his name this season, he appears to be suffering from a lack of belief and isn’t getting in the penalty area anywhere near enough.

As a natural finisher, Ebanks-Blake carries more threat but isn’t showing sufficient movement to trouble defenders.

The knock-on effect is there aren’t enough options for Wolves’ defence and midfield when they’re in possession, so they end up losing the ball too often.

If they have serious designs on remaining in the promotion race, they are going to have to present more problems to the opposition.

They have scored just once in each of the last four games in a successive 1-0 win followed by 2-1 defeat sequence, and that didn’t look like changing on Saturday. Until the last 25 minutes, it was Huddersfield who looked the likely scorers.

Vaughan, who is on a season-long loan from Norwich, clinically put the Terriers in front after getting ahead of Kevin Foley to head home Jack Hunt’s superb cross.

The opener came after Stephen Ward’s pass was cut out in Huddersfield’s half and the left-back was left hopelessly out of position, Sako failing to get in a challenge to prevent the centre.

The sliding, unmarked Beckford then missed an open goal from Vaughan’s cross.

Although Sako curled a free-kick on top of the net, Beckford doubled Huddersfield’s lead with a truly spectacular finish in the 27th minute.

The former Leeds striker’s 100th League goal was a stunning scissors kick that flew into the net without Carl Ikeme seeing it after Foley failed to get his head to Clayton’s right-wing cross.

Sako again bent one just wide, but Huddersfield should have gone in at the break further ahead when Beckford saw an effort palmed away and Vaughan curled wide with just Ikeme to beat.

The half-time arrival of Dave Edwards for David Davis started to see Wolves ask more questions of Huddersfield.

However, chances-wise, the second half followed a similar pattern until Wolves’ goal as Oliver Norwood’s free-kick was smothered by Ikeme.

Ebanks-Blake’s clinical finish from Sako’s cross offered hope of an unlikely comeback and Edwards headed against the post from Pennant’s corner before Doyle was denied.

But, ultimately, Wolves got what they deserved.

By Tim Nash