Pictures and analysis of Nottm Forest 3 Wolves 1

Who would have thought it would come to Bristol City for Wolves?

Who would have thought it would come to Bristol City for Wolves?

But it has. Wolves surely have to beat the Robins at Molineux this Saturday to persuade their anxious public that they can stay up.

That’s how serious it is and it leaves us reflecting again on the sharp decline of a club in turmoil.

The depth of their struggle was written over the Wolves players’ bowed faces as they trooped dejectedly to the coach after the game.

Facing yet another in-form team following Barnsley, Watford and Nottingham Forest – Sean O’Driscoll’s side made it four games unbeaten with a 2-0 win over Middlesbrough at the weekend, and three without conceding a goal – must feel like a trip to the dentist for this punch-drunk Wolves team.

Defeat at Forest on Saturday – their heaviest under boss Dean Saunders - made it one win in 11 under the new manager and eight points out of 33 available since he took charge.

The statistics make grim reading, but amid all the bullets, there is still hope.

While Wolves didn’t quite deserve anything from the match, they were never out of it until Stephen Ward’s 83rd-minute red card against hungry opponents who made it five straight wins.

The chink of light Wolves seized from the 2-0 victory at Millwall carried through to the City Ground and provided enough spark to generate a competitive fire to their game that never extinguished.

The trouble was that Forest were far better than freefalling Millwall and ultimately had just too much for Wolves.

For all Saunders’ post-match assertions (again) that his team had the chances to have won, they failed to force keeper Karl Darlow into a save, although he got his fingers to Matt Doherty’s 65th-minute equaliser, his first goal for the club.

Saunders has every right to try whatever he can to get Wolves out of this mess, and there is no doubt that this likeable, energetic football man is putting everything he can into solving the problems, many of which aren’t of his making.

But it remains to be seen whether his tinkering, this time with his formation from 4-4-2 to 4-5-1 after 16 minutes and back again just after the hour, helped the team or not.

With a seemingly inspired Sylvan Ebanks-Blake and recalled Bjorn Sigurdarson up front, Wolves looked to go toe-to-toe with Forest, which admittedly was always going to be a tough task.

But when Sigurdarson was dragged out to wide right, it seemed to invite the pressure onto the visitors, just as it did at Barnsley.

With Jamie O’Hara still feeling his way back to full fitness, Wolves lacked the craft and creativity to ask enough questions of Billy Davies’ determined outfit.

And when they did penetrate Forest’s rearguard, luck conspired against them as David Edwards missed horribly from 10 yards before Bakary Sako’s thunderbolt free-kick from 30 yards rattled the bar and Sigurdarson ballooned over from the rebound.

Those were the only times that Wolves seriously threatened the opposition net as their troubles in front of goal contrasted wildly with Forest’s three clinical finishes.

Forest had the ball in the net in the ninth minute only for Simon Cox’s tap-in to be ruled out for offside.

Elliott Ward headed over at the far post from a corner as Forest looked for the breakthrough before Edwards’ big miss, screwing well wide from an excellent position when Ebanks-Blake held play up from Sigurdarson’s header.

But it was Forest who showed them the way by taking a 31st-minute lead.

Having dragged the extra man back on that side of the pitch, Wolves still allowed Forest to work the ball in from the left between Cox and Radoslaw Majewski then old boy Adlene Guedioura teed up Henri Lansbury for a crisp, low finish that flew into the corner.

If Forest just about edged the first half, the second was very much an even affair until after Doherty’s equaliser as Wolves’ successful attempts to keep possession started to make the home crowd edgy.

But, following that, everything that could have gone wrong for Wolves did.

While the 2,267 visiting fans were still celebrating, Lansbury’s superb curling finish all started from a Wolves throw after Sigurdarson lost possession in the 67th minute. It threw the initiative firmly back to Forest.

Stephen Ward’s 83rd-minute sending-off was somewhat inevitable after he had bizarrely been left one on one with rampaging former team-mate and substitute Greg Halford from a Wolves corner.

And, having left men upfield, Wolves were punished further when Lewis McGugan curled in a shot off the bar after on-loan Albion man Gonzalo Jara squared the ball.

It sealed another defeat and left Wolves fans, many of whom wanted O’Driscoll in the wake of Stale Solbakken’s departure, wondering if he will play a part in their fate this season after all.

By Tim Nash