Ipswich 0 Wolves 2 - analysis and pictures
A wretched game, another unconvincing performance – but what a great result.
And after a bizarre, fortuitous opening goal either side of a cluster of missed chances by Ipswich last night, Wolves fans must have been left in two minds.
Is it just better luck or is the Championship going to continue to be so forgiving for Wolves?
It's certainly hard to recall the last time they won a game so easily.
The 4-0 home success over 10-man Blackpool in February 2011 is the last one that springs to mind.
But there have been precious few occasions over the last three seasons when three points have come so giftwrapped as they did in chilly Suffolk last night.
Boss Stale Solbakken and his players won't worry after picking up their second win in four days at a funereal Portman Road after Sunday's 2-1 victory over Leicester.
Those six points – the first time Wolves have achieved back-to-back wins since August 2011 – have propelled them to seventh spot just days after they were second bottom on four points. Such is the topsy-turvy nature of the Championship. But Wolves fans shouldn't knock it.
The vagaries of the second tier are allowing Solbakken's work-in-progress side the chance to prosper during their transition.
One of the biggest differences between the Premier League and the Championship is the amount of missed chances.
Wolves wouldn't have got away with the opposition wasting so many openings in the top flight and still had a foothold in the game, as Ipswich afforded them last night.
The brutal reality is, as Kevin Doyle put it after Sunday's game, the Championship is easier because the players just aren't as good.
Wolves, for so long having to fight just to keep their heads above water at the top level, are benefiting from the errors of others.
But the wins and the points are helping to bring back a much-missed commodity to the battered morale of the players still scarred by relegation – confidence. That confidence has helped their manager's methods appear more visibly as the players gradually put them into practice.
Wolves players might not be haring after every ball as they used to under Mick McCarthy, but they're staying in position more, and, in doing so, looking more compact and harder to break down.
But if we accept Wolves early success is down to Solbakken's differing methods, then we shouldn't ignore the profligacy of the opposition.
Against Derby it took six saves from Carl Ikeme; last night the Wolves keeper didn't have anywhere near as much to do as everything was either straight at him or ballooned over or wide.
An awful first half, of which the highlight was the near four minutes it took for a corner flag to be re-inserted, only sprang to life when Ikeme fell to gather Lee Martin's free kick in the 32nd minute, before Razak Boukari fired inches wide at the other end.
Jinking former Manchester United reserve Martin, who caught the eye in Wolves' 2-1 friendly win at Portman Road 14 months ago, was thwarted again by Ikeme when his slaloming run from halfway twice took him past Roger Johnson in between a missed tackle by Richard Stearman.
But Martin perhaps showed why he is still at this level a minute before the break when he fired straight at Ikeme from Michael Chopra's cut back.
It was beginning to look as if the half-time break had failed to shake Wolves from their malaise when Daryl Murphy lashed wide after Aaron Cresswell's free kick caused chaos, Dave Edwards producing a goalline clearance after the ball hit Chopra.
But a minute before the hour mark, Wolves finally threatened when Boukari showed a clean pair of heels to Carlos Edwards to tee up Bjorn Sigurdarson for a poor finish as the two Championship full debutants combined.
That encouraged Wolves forward and the ever-willing Kevin Doyle had keeper Scott Loach pawing away a low shot before the striker went even closer when his volley bounced off the base of the post after Edwards headed down.
Although Martin missed another chance when he scooped the ball over from Jason Scotland's deflected cross, Wolves profited from a bizarre breakthrough in the 68th minute.
New Zealand centre-back Tommy Smith, under no pressure, tried to turn Bakary Sako's free kick away but only succeeded in losing his balance and the ball squirted off his hands into the bottom corner of the net as he fell.
Tottenham loan midfielder Massimo Luongo and Smith lashed off target as Ipswich again failed to punish Wolves before substitute Tongo Doumbia showed them how it's done on 77 minutes when he unleashed a low, early drive from 25 yards to leave Loach grasping at thin air.
It won't always be this easy; Wolves will play far better and lose.
But with rock-bottom Peterborough away on Saturday, they will be happy for more of the same fortune.
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