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A ray of light amid the doom and gloom for Wolves

Sport | Published:

Whether it was a token gesture of defiance or the first step on a long, long road to survival is not yet known.

But in these desperate times Wolves will eagerly take the point clinched by an injury-time equaliser from Bakary Sako which denied Watford last night.

The seats are emptying just like the hope at a Molineux which played host to less than 18,500 Wolves fans.

And they witnessed a performance which was at times as unconvincing as the drive-by protest which gathered briefly beneath Billy Wright's statue.

But who knows?

For all the caustic chants which accompanied a labouring display, those hardy supporters deserved their respite from this season of relentless misery.

Most of all, however, they will hope this was the moment the worm turned. No team is ever going to change its fate by backing down in the face of adversity and, to their credit, Wolves are plugging away in search of a break that could reverse their dire form line.

Throughout what is now a nine-game sequence without victory, manager Dean Saunders has been waiting for a sign from above as much as anything and how he will hope Sako's equaliser was just such an omen.

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"It will only be a good result if we win at Millwall on Tuesday," said Saunders, and he is right.

Already, you feel time and fixtures beginning to squeeze optimism from the club without some dramatic results being delivered soon.

But they will head for that uncomfortable corner of the football world with a little more conviction for the way this game turned out.

Wolves were again changed significantly by the manager with a surprising first appearance of the season from Stephen Hunt.

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Hunt's touch was rustier than an old bike even though he pedalled as furiously as ever until his stamina gave way after an hour.

Hunt's left-side patrol pushed Sako over to the right in support of another changed front-line combination with Kevin Doyle joining Bjorn Sigurdarson.

While the manager can be forgiven for his restless search for combinations which might provide his team with a little inspiration, it is equally no surprise to see Wolves continuing to resemble a team making it up as they go along.

This contrasted vividly with the cohesion and fluency of Watford but Gianfanco Zola's side would pay dearly for trying to see out this game in a complacent second-half show.

They had taken the lead, in a first half they dominated, direct from a 41st minute free-kick conceded by an over-eager Karl Henry, who clipped Matej Vydra's heels just outside the area. Almen Abdi executed a superbly-controlled clip over Wolves' defensive wall which had just enough curl to elude Carl Ikeme.

But already Watford had been served warning that their ambitious set-up, with raiding wing-backs always advancing, could provide Wolves with the space for chances.

A little break of the ball after 20 minutes had given first Doyle and then Sigurdarson the chance to score. Jonathan Bond's save from Doyle's first shot was competent but the follow-up effort to deny the Icelandic international was superb.

Watford flattered to deceive after their goal, however, with substitute Fernando Forestieri missing their best opportunities to put the game to bed while Wolves nibbled away in search of that elusive break. Their moments came and went, most notably after 77 minutes when Sigurdarson again forced a fine save from Bond, who parried the ball into the path of the fast-arriving Jack Robinson. Sadly, he could not control his chance as the ball flew high and wide.

But as Watford continued to play like a team with the handbrake engaged, Wolves found a little more under the bonnet to grab their game-changing – perhaps season-changing – moment.

Watford failed to deal with a long Matt Doherty throw and suddenly the ball arrived in the path of an unmarked Sako, who duly finished.

Wolves are still struggling – but crucially, they are still fighting. It's been that sort of week. Much more is needed, but at least it's a start.

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