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Five talking points from Sheff Wed 0 Wolves 0

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Wolves produced an excellent performance to claim a point at high-flying Sheffield Wednesday.

They spurned several chances at Hillsborough and saw an obvious penalty claim turned down.

It kept up Wolves' good recent away record as they started 2017 on a positive note.

But what did we learn from this Yorkshire encounter? Wolves correspondent Tim Spiers picks out five talking points from an entertaining stalemate.

Positive point

Richard Stearman's form has been a positive point for Wolves.

Wolves began 2017 as they began 2016 - travelling to the home of a promotion favourite, keeping a surprise clean sheet and earning a positive result.

Kenny Jackett's Wolves went to Brighton on New Year's Day last year and won 1-0. But that performance - a proper backs-to-the-wall smash-and-grab job where Jackett recognised Wolves' limitations and put 10 men behind the ball - was very different to this.

Wolves went toe to toe with Wednesday and played better football than them. If this was a boxing match they'd have won on points.

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There were positives all over the pitch. The back four were excellent, in particular Richard Stearman.

Jack Price was the standout midfielder of both teams, Connor Ronan's debut was deeply impressive, Jon Dadi Bodvarsson looked back to his old self and Joe Mason was a constant threat.

Just a shame he can't score from three yards, eh? Yes, Mason provided what will surely be Wolves' miss of the year despite it only being January 2.

But overall he got in more shooting positions than Nouha Dicko has in his last two or three appearances. And he, as at the start of the season, combined nicely with Bodvarsson.

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Wolves, of course, should have had a penalty as well. It was a decision of quite remarkable incompetence from referee Simon Hooper. The ref told Paul Lambert that Keiren Westwood played the ball...but he was yards away from touching it. A staggering error, one sadly typical of the declining standards of referees in the Championship.

That shouldn't detract, though, from the fact Wolves should have won this game, with or without the 'penalty'.

Improvement

When Wolves played Sheffield Wednesday in late November for Lambert's first home game in charge they were comfortably beaten 2-0.

Barry Bannan and Fernando Forestieri ran the show for the Owls who, if they hadn't eased off, would have won by a larger margin.

Contrast that with yesterday. Wolves played with confidence and kept Bannan and Forestieri's influence to a minimum.

The same could be said for the two QPR games. Yes Wolves won at Loftus Road and lost at Molineux, but in the first game they took advantage of a red card and only started to create chances when QPR took risks at the back. At Molineux they controlled the majority of the game and were unlucky to lose.

There are many signs of improvement for Lambert. Take the Cardiff defeat out of the equation and Wolves haven't played badly for more than a month - since they last faced Wednesday.

The next Robbie?

A hugely talented Irish teenager full of flair with a slight frame makes his first start for Wolves and produces a deeply impressive performance...

The comparisons with Robbie Keane are inevitable and yes Connor Ronan deserves to be mentioned in the same breath - that's how good he is, aged just 18.

With Lambert talking him up so much in recent weeks it was no surprise that Ronan earned his full Wolves debut, and also no surprise that he took to the Championship with apparent ease.

Playing on the left of a midfield three, Ronan grew into the game and was no passenger. His free kick led to Wolves' penalty appeal and his pass led to Mason hitting the post. He played his natural game - and his team mates had the confidence (and respect) to regularly give him the ball.

Ronan has played in the number 10 role or on the flanks as a youth player but long-term is position may be central midfield. Either way his - and Wolves' - future looks very bright.

The fact he replaced a £7million record signing and the team didn't look weaker for it tells you everything you need to know about Ronan's talent.

Kudos to Lambert

He was greeted with a squad of 30 first-team players when he arrived at Molineux.

But Lambert has still found space in his squad for two youngsters in Ronan and Bright Enobakhare.

That's a decision that takes guts. He has eschewed more experienced pros in favour of giving youth a chance, despite Wolves flirting with the bottom three, backing up his statement that if players are good enough they're old enough.

The Wolves boss could easily have turned to the likes of Joao Teixeira or Jed Wallace to play the number 10 role lately, or brought George Saville or Prince Oniangue into midfield yesterday.

But he believes in Wolves' youngsters. The next generation are as good as he's seen in many years, Lambert has stated.

To turn to them already shows great faith and sage management - and bodes well for Wolves' future. It's something his predecessor Walter Zenga ignored at his peril.

It also suggests the above four players might not be at Molineux for much longer.

Molineux meltdown

Danny Batth has had some stick, but looked solid against Sheffield Wednesday.

Talking of showing faith, Lambert did exactly that in Danny Batth yesterday and was rewarded with a clean sheet.

Batth endured two poor games at home to Bristol City and QPR, playing his part in all four goals that were conceded in those two games.

At Hillsborough, though, he looked a different player. And that's becoming something of a recurring theme, not only in Batth but the whole back four.

Wolves' defensive rearguard has been much more composed, assured and organisation away from Molineux of late.

As the below table shows, Wolves are scoring far more at home but also conceding far more.

On the road they're playing to a game plan, they don't look nervous in possession and mistakes are being kept to a minimum.

In fact without the second half at Cardiff they'd be unbeaten in five away games having conceded only one goal

So why the Molineux meltdown? Are Wolves too open and attacking? Are the players struggling to cope with the pressure of a home crowd? Probably a bit of both. If Lambert can replicate Wolves' away results at home Wolves will start climbing the table pretty rapidly.

LAST FIVE AT HOME

Won - 1

Drawn - 1

Lost - 3

Scored - 10

Conceded - 13

Points - 4

LAST FIVE AWAY

Won - 2

Drawn - 2

Lost - 1

Scored - 5

Conceded - 3

Point - 8

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