Pictures and analysis of Leicester 2 Wolves 1

An all too familiar result for Wolves at the end of an all too familiar transfer window.

An all too familiar result for Wolves at the end of an all too familiar transfer window.

But if there was nothing to soothe the anger of a dismayed public off the pitch, there were at least more positive signs for Dean Saunders on it as he grapples with the biggest challenge of his fledgling managerial career.

Saunders is still looking for his first win and has just two points from the first 12 he has contested. Those are grim statistics for a manager who came bounding into the club hoping to re-ignite instantly a dormant playing squad.

But, with perhaps his boldest selection so far in his most demanding fixture, Saunders watched Wolves suffer their unkindest cut of this miserable winter.

A 2-1 defeat at Leicester City was scant reward for his players’ performance, a result possibly explained mostly by one team which is used to winning and an opposition now too, too used to defeat.

But if Saunders can tap in to the green shoots of recovery detected particularly in a stirring second-half and cultivate still more, then perhaps he can lead the team – and with it a troubled club – from the anguish of these days.

Wolves were effectively undone by their own adventure, caught out twice by two punishing counter-attacks brilliantly executed first by Anthony Knockaert before the break and then David Nugent for the match-winner.

A devastating swing of the right boot – yes, the right one – from Bakary Sako brought Wolves level in the second half and only a series of hairline misses in the closing minutes denied them a point.

This was a very different Wolves team to the three we have seen under Saunders so far, both in personnel and in style.

At the back, Danny Batth began the first of what is seen as a three-game chance to claim his future at the club during Roger Johnson’s suspension and did well enough against the Championship’s top scorers.

A midfield platform of Karl Henry and Jamie O’Hara, who came into his game after the break, allowed Tongo Doumbia, Bjorn Sigurdarson and Sako to hunt in support of Sylvan Ebanks-Blake.

It was the way they did so which caught the eye. This was a Wolves which the manager’s predecessor was seeking but rarely found.

They moved the ball purposefully and with control and went close, so close, to unhinging second-placed Leicester as a consequence.

Saunders will surely be tempted to give this strategy further opportunities. Wolves carried growing conviction about their football.

Blame was levelled at left-back Stephen Ward as he failed to shut down Knockaert’s break which resulted in the winger’s shot being only half-parried by Carl Ikeme.

But that would be to ignore Ward’s role in delivering the cross which seconds earlier Kasper Schmeichel collected and cleared superbly to Knockaert. The left-back cannot be in two places at once.

Wolves made measured progress which gathered momentum with Sako’s return to a familiar role – scoring spectacular goals.

Six minutes after half-time, he collected a touch-down by Doumbia and lashed in a 20-yard drive with the foot he normally uses for standing on. Wolves were dominant after that but left the back door open for Nugent.

He brookg clear from an intercepted pass, to reach the edge of the area and shatter the visitors with an accomplished finish, curled around Ikeme’s left fingertips.

But the match finished with Ebanks-Blake hitting the post and failing with a close-range header and Sako demanding another fine piece of keeping from Peter’s lad.

It was cruel for Wolves. But maybe they saw the beginning of the end to their miseries.

By Martin Swain