Creepy Crawley shock Wolves - match analysis and pictures

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As such it is still only a wobble and no cause for anyone to start pressing the panic button.

But Kenny Jackett will nonetheless be a little alarmed at the difference a week has made to a Wolves team which had seemed primed to take the League One promotion scrap by the scruff of the neck.

Seven days after Bakary Sako led a club history-making destruction of Swindon Town, Wolves were humbled by probably the most humble team in the division.

And it would be churlish not to acknowledge that this was a thoroughly merited victory for Crawley, a league win instantly elevated to the most prestigious in their short history in the professional game.

But Jackett now faces the task – as do his players – of providing a response to their first defeat in 11 games and their sloppiest performance for quite some time. This was a match which flew by in a blur of errors from which no-one was spared. Crawley worked feverishly hard – yet another of this level's opponents to get a huge buzz off the visit of Wolves – to loosen the nuts and bolts of a machine that had cut an impressive path to the top of the table.

It can happen to any team at any time but coming on the back of their failure to overcome Shrewsbury at the weekend it is bound to raise concerns about what lies ahead in a battle for automatic promotion that just will not let up.

Those questions Wolves must answer now at Sheffield United on Saturday, a setting they may find more to their liking than this homely little corner of west Sussex with its sticky surface and pumped up opposition. But this was an unsettling night for Jackett's team, of that there is no doubt, and the scrutiny now focuses on their mental strength as much as a footballing quality so decisively challenged by John Gregory's side.

A challenge, in fact, that was so disturbing Jackett reminded us that he is a man who does not dawdle when he smells danger.


As at Bradford in October, and with Wolves having lost a lead by conceding two goals in four minutes, he uprooted the system which has served him so well by sacrificing Michael Jacobs for Leon Clarke and a return to 4-4-2 – after just 36 minutes.

That tells you all you need to know about the discomfort Wolves were already experiencing and to a degree, the head coach's unhesitating decision had the desired effect. Clarke established a presence alongside Nouha Dicko which gave Jackett's team a better working base on a night and a pitch not made for midfield possession.

Indeed Kevin McDonald and Jack Price will probably conclude that they gave the ball away more times last night than in all the combined games since Christmas. They were far from alone though – it is difficult to think of a Wolves player who didn't savage his recently impressive pass-completion rate by a significant percentage.

And all this despite the leg-up of a gifted opening goal for James Henry, who advancing from midfield in the 25th minute made a rare but sweet connection from just outside the area. Quite what Crawley keeper Paul Jones had in mind only he will know but a bizarre attempt to save the effort with a slide tackle succeeded only in deflecting the ball into his net.


Wolves needed that break because it had already become clear that after months of defensive solidity, this was going to be a troublesome evening. Within a minute, the point was painfully driven home when they handed back the advantage with a succession of missed clearances which enabled Billy Clarke to steal in at the far post.

Four minutes later what would be the game's winning goal was constructed by Matt Tubbs' defeat of the offside trap – much to the Molineux side's disbelief – and an exquisite lobbed finish over the advancing Carl Ikeme.

Wolves should have equalised before the break when Sam Ricketts' long pass was well read by Clarke whose attempted clip was palmed down by Jones. But following up, and in a symbol of an error-strewn performance, Henry blazed over. Twice after the break, Jones was required to make saves which extended him, first from Henry and then Sako, but otherwise Crawley absorbed the league leaders impressively no matter what Jackett tried.

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