Just take the points, hold them tight and be thankful.Tight because this was another game where you could barely put a cigarette paper between the teams and Wolves got away with it.
By Tim Nash
The season is eight games old and already Crawley, Swindon and now Shrewsbury have all deserved something against Kenny Jackett’s side, only to depart empty-handed.
One goal has been the difference in five of Wolves’ eight games so far in 2013-14, while another was a 0-0 draw.
Maybe it’s all those hard-luck stories from the Premier League and the Championship coming home to roost, but Wolves seem to be getting their fair share of luck so far this season.
No-one’s complaining; successful sides tend to get the marginal decisions and the rub of the green.
They won again on Saturday but they weren’t much more convincing than the PA announcer who said David Davis not Bakary Sako scored the hotly-disputed penalty and that there were four minutes of time added on when the board said five.
Not that Wolves were outplayed – they weren’t – and it wasn’t that they didn’t deserve anything from the game, because they did.
But a draw would have been a fair result from a derby that crackled in the late summer sunshine.
That said, no-one should think Wolves’ sixth victory in eight games was all down to good fortune.
Far from it.
While being below their best again, Wolves not only managed to weather a considerable Shrewsbury storm that lasted around 15 minutes in the middle of the first half, but showed perhaps more character and determination than they arguably have done in any other game this season.
No doubt a half-time roasting from Jackett helped after a lacklustre first 45 minutes, but there was no shortage of resolution and resilience as they kept a third clean sheet of the season.
That the team is winning again is a huge positive, especially when the side hasn’t really ‘clicked’ over a period of games yet.
It must be a source of major relief to Jackett that the results have been so good given what he and the squad have been faced with.
Roger Johnson’s departure on loan to Sheffield Wednesday made it 21 players who have left the club either permanently or on loan or have returned to their parent clubs since the end of last season.
Filling those gaps have been just three newcomers plus the promotion of several inexperienced youngsters from the development squad.
Forging a team out of all of those changes, while dealing with the extra motivation every club in League One has in facing Wolves, means that steel and determination they are showing is darned well needed for them to emerge on top.
After bright starts, some players are already finding it a struggle to cope with that heady cocktail. Lee Evans was rested completely on Saturday, while David Davis is now suspended for Saturday’s visit of Sheffield United after picking up his fifth booking of the season.
Davis’ unavailability may also be a blessing in the long term as he can take stock and prepare himself to go again.
These are the kind of punches Wolves are going to have to roll with over a gruelling 46-game season.
On Saturday they were without Kevin Doyle, who has been a growing influence in recent games, while Leigh Griffiths went off with a sore ankle.
Jackett is hoping both will be fit for the Blades, when for once Wolves will come across a club of their own size.
But the sense of their opponents wanting to take them down a peg or two shouldn’t be underestimated.
Nowhere was that more evident than Saturday in leafy Shropshire, where they have been waiting for this game ever since the fixture came out and Wolves’ presence attracted a record crowd for the new ground of 9,510.
Shrewsbury skipper Tamika Mkandawire wrote in his captain’s column in the programme that they had a chance to make history by beating Wolves. So it was no surprise that after an even start which saw Sako force a diving save out of impressive keeper Chris Weale after six minutes, that Town gathered their artillery and hurled the lot in Wolves’ direction.
The onslaught produced three chances, Jon Taylor’s volleyed flick on 18 minutes forcing a one-handed save from Carl Ikeme, who then flung himself in the opposite direction to keep out Ryan Woods’s speculative 35-yard effort two minutes later.
Ikeme was motionless as Adam Reach shaved the outside of the post with a sidefooted effort on 21. Against that uncompromising backdrop, Wolves were trying to find the holes in the home defence.
Just like the Walsall game, they had plenty of the ball – Kevin McDonald in particular – but struggled to find the gaps.
Wolves recovered to force their way back into the contest through Bjorn Sigurdarson.
The bustling Icelandic forward was denied by the brave Weale diving at his feet in the 32nd minute.
Two minutes later came Wolves’ best chance in open play when Sigurdarson’s towering header from Scott Golbourne’s cross bounced against the post.
Having got themselves back into the game, Wolves finally started forcing the pace at the start of the second period.
Ten minutes after the restart, Griffiths hooked a wayward acrobatic effort over the bar but McDonald should have gone for goal himself two minutes later rather than pass to Sigurdarson, who wasn’t expecting it. Sigurdarson then produced a poor shot on the turn as Wolves tried to force the breakthrough.
But a key moment on the hour went Wolves way when they were given a huge let-off, Curtis Main somehow blazing over an open goal from two yards out after some trickery and an inviting cross from Taylor from the right.
Had that have gone in, it would have been difficult to see Wolves coming back.
But they weren’t done and, six minutes from time, the second key moment went their way too.
This time it was a double whammy as Taylor handballed on the line from Matt Doherty’s bullet header from Sako’s corner and was sent off.
Sako belted the resulting penalty down the middle of the goal and Wolves had the advantage they needed, Shrewsbury’s fire having blown itself out.
So it was that close. Again.
It wasn’t hard to feel some sympathy for Shrewsbury boss Graham Turner, who has fashioned a young and decent footballing side on a fraction of the Molineux budget.
The former Wolves manager started the game as the most popular man in the stadium with both sets of fans chanting his name, and acknowledged the travelling fans with a wave.
By the end, with many of his players having sank to their knees in a mixture of exasperation and exhaustion as the officials were loudly booed off, he wasn’t feeling so generous.
But Wolves were just happy to pocket the points.