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Wolves v Reading - five talking points

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Wolves edged to victory over Reading to ease the pressure on boss Kenny Jackett.

James Henry's first-half header against his former club proved the difference between the sides.

But that doesn't even begin to tell the story of a hard-earned win. Wolves correspondent Tim Spiers picks out five talking points as Wolves ended their Molineux hoodoo.

In the absence of producing swashbuckling, free flowing, attractive football, or maybe even just, you know, coming up with a couple of shots here and there and at least pretending like they were trying to attack, desperate Wolves opted for the undesirable last-girl-at-the-bar option.

Their crude, crass and unashamed approach in the second half was to erect a wall of gold shirts in front of Carl Ikeme's goal and shout 'you shall not pass' in a manner that would have made Gandalf raise his staff in appreciation.

Wolves woke up the next morning with three points, but boy should they feel dirty and ashamed about what happened the night before.

It was a rare home win for Wolves against Reading

Yes they were playing Reading. Not Barcelona, or Brazil, or even Bournemouth. Just Reading.

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And that's why it felt so wrong to be clinging on for dear life for more than 45 minutes, with any attacking ambitions long since disposed of.

But the ends - in this case - justified the means.

After shipping seven goals in their previous two matches, and still defending here with all the subtlety of a rhino dancing the waltz, Kenny Jackett knew that if his team opened up and tried to score a second goal, Reading would have equalised.

And if Reading had equalised, it's more than likely they would have gone on to win the game.

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Wolves had also previously won two - yes two - home games all season, with the last coming in early October, and had taken the lead in their previous four matches, only to win one.

Their confidence is painfully fragile right now. In the first half - an open half of football - they went for it, and left holes at the back that Reading should have exploited with at least a couple of goals.

Jackett battened down the hatches at half time. And given all that context, and Wolves' league position (they'd have been four points above the drop zone with a defeat), he was justified in doing so.

Kenny Jackett watches on

This didn't necessarily have the feel of a 'turning point' victory about it.

And the approach Wolves took won't wash with their long-suffering paying punters every week, of course.

But the hope is that January could be Wolves' turning point this season, particularly if they sign players to add rigidity at the back, allowing them to start regularly trying to play the type of football they have shown only in fits and starts this season.

Top of the list is a centre half, preferably Mike Williamson. Another defender to add sufficient cover, particularly with Kortney Hause still sidelined and a right back currently playing at left back, would also be preferable.

As would a physical, mobile, goalscoring striker to take the burden off Benik Afobe.

If the powerful, pacey Michal Zyro can make the immediate impact that his YouTube videos (let's hope Jackett and co have done more extensive scouting than the E&S) suggest he can, then there might just be a decent team in there somewhere.

Pre-match huddle for Wolves

Ethan Ebanks-Landell had a difficult first half, summed up by when he whacked the ball straight out for a corner and fell over at the same time.

After the break, albeit with added protection in front of him, he was much improved, making several blocks, interceptions, headers and tackles of real importance.

In fact he was the main reason why Ikeme had so little to do, despite Reading's dominance of possession in the Wolves half.

He also epitomised Wolves' fighting spirit, their heart, their desire and their commitment, which to be fair hasn't waned in recent weeks, but it was nice to again see it's still alive and well.

In front of Ebanks-Landell, Conor Coady excelled in the backs-to-the-wall approach.

Called upon for his first start since November 3 in the absence of the ill Jack Price, Coady mopped up a high number of Reading attacks and, while his distribution was lacking, he was hardly plentiful in options to pass to during that second half.

He also produced an excellent goal-saving clearance off the line. After struggling to impose himself on this Wolves team in recent months, Coady gave a timely reminder to his boss of what he can offer.

Edwards' last goal came almost two months ago

While there were some good individual performances here, particularly Coady, Ebanks-Landell and James Henry, the tried and trusted spine of Wolves' team again disappointed.

Danny Batth played his part with some typically robust defending, but was beaten too often both in the air and on the ground and hasn't looked himself of late.

As discussed at length on these pages, he needs experience alongside him, and not to be the senior man in a young and green defence.

Another player who hasn't looked himself is Kevin McDonald, who is failing to exert his authority in midfield, and failing to dictate games like he has so often in the past.

Ahead of them David Edwards is also struggling to impose himself in an attacking sense. Excellent off the ball and a great first line of defence, he seems to be playing within himself and lacks confidence in front of goal.

This is the spine of Wolves' team. And these are the go-to pros who have played a big role in Wolves' successful past two seasons.

With Jackett talking of transition, of building a new team, this trio need to again show why they have earned the right to be, certainly in Batth and McDonald's cases, the first names on the team sheet.

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