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Wolves v Blues - five talking points

Birmingham | Sport | Published:

Wolves and Blues drew a blank at Molineux for the second season running yesterday in the West Midlands derby.

Kenny Jackett's team survived a second-half onslaught from the visitors to record their first home clean sheet of 2016.

But at the other end of the pitch they struggled to test Blues keeper Tomasz Kuszczak in a weak attacking performance that had their supporters chanting for changes.

Wolves correspondent Tim Spiers picks out five talking points from a derby stalemate.

Jack Price

In the context of how the game unfolded this was undoubtedly a point gained.

Wolves took a shellacking in the second half with Blues, inspired by substitute Jacques Maghoma and a change of system, laying siege to Carl Ikeme's goal.

Jon Toral missed a sitter, Clayton Donaldson fired wide when through on goal, David Davis was brilliantly denied by Carl Ikeme and Maghoma was tackled at the death by Conor Coady with the goal gaping.

At the other end Wolves' best attempts on goal had come in a first half that they shaded, with George Saville going closest.

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But the Blues defence had a disappointingly easy ride after the break. Wolves went half an hour without registering a shot on goal at one point.

There were certainly positives, though. Wolves' build-up play was excellent at times and man of the match Jack Price settled back into the side with a typically easy-on-the-eye display.

Joe Mason

This is fast becoming 2016's answer to Mick McCarthy v Freddy Eastwood.

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Back in 2007/08 cult hero Eastwood became a figurehead for the anti-McCarthy brigade and a stick to beat the beleaguered manager with, when he was left out of the side.

The situations are different in that Eastwood was ostracised over attitude concerns.

There's no such issue with Mason, certainly from what we've seen on the pitch - he's a hard-working and energetic player.

But parallels lie with the supporter/manager divide. Fans loudly chanted Mason's name as they watched their team struggling to create any chances of note in the second half.

Jackett eventually relented, but gave Mason just five minutes to make an impact.

Since the 23-year-old joined from Cardiff for £3m he's started just four of nine matches. Jackett claims it's purely tactical, and that Mason needs to play in a 4-4-2, a formation very rarely utilised in the past two-and-a-half years.

So either Jackett is to abandon the 4-3-3/4-2-3-1 system that has served him so well, the system that's played all through the academy and under-21 setups, and go 4-4-2, or Mason will remain on the periphery.

It's a bizarre situation. And one that needs resolving.

If Mason is to be a key part of Wolves' team next season - and after spending that much money on him it would be absolutely bonkers if he wasn't - then surely now is the time, when there's nothing to play for, to work out how to get the best out of him? Or does that sound like too much common sense?

Bjorn Sigurdarson

It's been 26 barren matches since Bjorn Sigurdarson last scored for Wolves.

It's also been more than two-and-a-half years. Or 928 days.

God loves a trier and Sigurdarson is exactly that. And his task in the 10 matches he's played since his comeback has often been a thankless one.

The first half here was a case in point, with the Icelandic forward winning headers and holding the ball up, but mostly having no team mates anywhere near him to link up.

Sigurdarson's best moments in the past few weeks have come when he's ran at defenders from deep, with instances against Huddersfield, Reading and Derby moments of real quality and all nearly yielding excellent goals.

But on Sunday, pressed deep against the Blues backline, he was ineffective, and it was easy for the two Blues centre halves.

A switch to right wing didn't work either.

He was certainly not to solely blame for Sunday's blank. As a front three with Nathan Byrne and Jeremy Helan, Wolves lacked cohesion and direction.

It was as if the trio had never met before. Wolves were toothless.

Kortney Hause

The main positive was the clean sheet. And credit must go to the young Wolves back line who repelled the Blues onslaught.

Danny Batth made two crucial blocks and had his best game in a while.

And Kortney Hause showed signs of maturity and composure, recovering from a couple of early mistakes to grow in confidence as the game went on.

It was the kind of backs-to-the-wall moral victory that can build character among the youngsters.

And for Hause in particular the next few weeks represent an important stage in his Wolves career.

With Mike Williamson seemingly no closer to a return, Hause has an opportunity to establish himself as a Championship-standard centre half.

He certainly possesses the attributes to succeed.

Wolves fans

The league table doesn't get any more interesting, does it?

Wolves remain marooned in mid-table, nowhere near the top six or the bottom three.

With a trip to in-form leaders Burnley this weekend preceding a two-week international break, Wolves are likely to remain on 47 points until next month.

In fact the most interesting thing over the coming weeks will be the Early Bird figures, when we'll see in black and white just what supporters think of the current malaise that refuses to leave Molineux.

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