Wolves deliver fitting tribute to Bert Williams - match analysis and pictures
Wolves continue to pedal away furiously just to stand still in a League One promotion race proving elusive and challenging.
Kenny Jackett's team always appeared to have the measure of Bristol City but again stretched the nerves of supporters before finally putting the game to rest with a conclusive third goal 14 minutes from the end.
However, the task of bringing to heel their two direct opponents for automatic promotion, Brentford and Leyton Orient, is proving even more arduous.
Wolves maintained their upwards curve but the two runaway trains ahead of them remain out of reach and still on course to reach their mutual destination ahead of Jackett's outfit.
Under normal circumstances, Wolves' rock-solid return of a fraction over two points per game would have them firmly on course for the top two.
At the moment, their ratio extrapolates to a Championship-grabbing 93 points. But incredibly, the London duo ahead of them continue to out-perform them and are both on course for 100 point-plus totals.
This is an extraordinarily high return from not one, not two but three teams at the division's summit; indeed, it has no precedence in the third tier since football was re-constituted in the early 1990s.
It is a season of sustained, almost freakish points-harvesting and if Wolves were hoping to put the club back on course through solid consistency they are now being forced to confront an even greater challenge.
The two rivals from the east and west fringes of the capital are not going anywhere and Jackett and his players must now know that they, too, are going to have to come up with something extraordinary to avoid play-off roulette.
And maybe they can. Jackett introduced a new cast member on Saturday and Nouha Dicko proved a very welcome addition indeed. Wolves have not had such sharpness and pace in the central striking areas since Dean Sturridge and then Henri Camara, a curious omission but one Jackett has been anxious to resolve.
This was Dicko's second debut but it was viewed through different eyes.
Molineux's anger and indignation at last season's follies made it an unhappy stage for everyone; this season a fresh optimism is in the air and the 21-year-old from the east suburbs of Paris revelled in its encouragement.
His and Wolves' first goal, after 10 minutes, certainly avowed for that sharpness as he got in front of his marker and worked sufficient space to surprise Elliott Parish with the sting put into a left-foot finish despite a restricted back-lift.
While it didn't get any better than that for Dicko, it didn't get any worse either.
He played a major part in regaining the lead shortly before half-time with another fierce cross-cum-shot which ricocheted in off defender Derrick Williams, could have squeezed a third late onand should surely have had a penalty. All in all, he was the persistent handful inside the area Jacket has been looking for.
Leigh Griffiths started just as encouragingly of course and is now in the sidings; Wolves will want to see more from Dicko before getting too excited. But as a calling card, it could hardly have been more impressive and fitted snugly into 2014's theme of a team on the up.
Equally eye-catching – although we have been this way before – was another of the season's intermittent performers.
Yes, welcome back Bakary Sako, who has watched first James Henry and then Michael Jacobs park their tanks on his lawn in this middle third of the campaign to become the creative fulcrum of Jackett's Wolves.
Sako, once the subject of intense transfer speculation, has faded into the shadows since but introduced from the bench for Henry with 20-odd minutes to make an impact, he utilised every single one of them. This Sako is the player Wolves fans will feel can propel the team to their target.
He swept in the killer third goal from an edge-of-the-area, left-foot drive which eased the tensions of another performance high on the promise of goals but lacking their delivery.
Still it is difficult to know what awaits this maddening footballer, part-match winner, part-weakness to the team's overall output. Although Henry and Jacobs are free to exploit space and opportunity at the top of the pitch, they justify this indulgence with a high work-rate to protect their full-backs.
There was a rare breach in this shape in the 23rd minute when Henry was caught trailing to concede the penalty deposited by Sam Baldock after the Wolves man impeded Greg Cunningham.
But it is a trade-off Wolves will happily accept and, despite his welcome contribution, Sako must remain on the outside looking in.
Unless, of course, his cameo against City indicated a sufficient revival in form to put him in contention for arguably the most important role in the line-up which Jackett now clearly prefers.
Lee Evans was given the 'in between' job supporting Dicko while supplementing midfield and lodged perhaps mixed results – a hand in the first and third goals certainly, but also periods of the game when he was peripheral.
Nevertheless, Evans is a gradually improving prospect who could finish this campaign as one of the major gains for Wolves.
Surely Jack Price will come into that category because his natural game sense and tidy skills make him a footballer who keeps doing the right thing at the right time, a natural partner for the more expressive Kevin McDonald.
This is a Wolves team which, for the first time in an age, is flipping the ball around the pitch with a comfort that is not solely down to the drop in divisions – and the Price-McDonald pairing looks the most suitable launch point for its growing capacity to take care of possession.
Some of the exchanges, especially in the second half, spoke loudly of this welcome advance. Wolves really should have scored more goals and not until this part of their output is more satisfying can they really turn up the heat on those teams above.
Wolves are getting there – it's just that the 'there' is being kept out of reach by the efforts of others at the moment.
Of course, we cannot let the moment pass without mention of another sombre collision between the vintage past and the strains of the present.
The heavens opened as Molineux paid its respects to one of its greatest but the unkind elements could not dampen the acclaim, the affection, the admiration for a favourite son.
Bert Williams would have hated all the fuss and attention. He would, however, have loved the result.
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