Wolves 1 Rotherham 0 - Five talking points

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Wolves laboured to a tense 1-0 victory against the worst team in the Championship on Saturday.

Rotherham arrived at Molineux having earned a solitary point from 18 away matches this season - but the Millers pushed Wolves all the way and should have at least drawn the game.

Paul Lambert's team were booed off at full time and the head coach said it was the worst they had played in months.

But it was a vital win for a team that hadn't tasted success since January. Wolves correspondent Tim Spiers picks out five talking points.

Defining moment?

You can pinpoint moments or games that define most managers' tenures at a club – for better or worse.

The retro example is Mark Robins' FA Cup third round winner supposedly saving Sir Alex Ferguson's job at Manchester United back in 1990.

At Wolves Mick McCarthy's future was probably secured by gritty victories at Crystal Palace and Colchester, when he and the team were under fire after two wins from 12 in 2008 (they won promotion a year later).

And last season four consecutive home nil-nils defined a drab season for Kenny Jackett that saw him lose the confidence of the fanbase – and Fosun duly had no hesitation in firing him.


If Paul Lambert is to be a success at Wolves we may, in time, look back at Semi Ajayi's last gasp miss for Rotherham as a crucial moment for the Scot.

Anything less than victory here was unthinkable. If Ajayi volleys into the net from three yards rather than finding row Z, Wolves would at this moment in time be in the relegation zone on a winless run of two points from seven matches.

Instead they're 20th ahead of a huge game in hand at Brentford tomorrow, having earned four points from two fixtures and kept two clean sheets to boot.

Fine margins, as they say.


Home discomforts

In front of the watching Jeff Shi, the home fans' mood would have turned apoplectic had Ajayi scored. Or had Danny Ward beaten Carl Ikeme for those two glorious first-half chances.

Heck, the supporters were disgruntled enough anyway, booing the team at the final whistle and then booing the players and Lambert when they went to clap the South Bank.

Many applauded, though, in what was a peculiar cocktail of relief, anger and frustration. Some didn't know what to make of it.

Lambert certainly did, proclaiming that, for once, he wouldn't feel like s*** as he has in recent weeks when the team has invariably played well and lost. Indeed, they performed far better at Reading and Ipswich Town and came away with a solitary point from two games.

Therein lies Wolves' biggest problem. Their home form is appalling.

Yes they beat Rotherham, but they did so by the skin of their teeth. When visiting boss Paul Warne said his team were the better of the two you couldn't disagree.

Six of Wolves' final nine matches are at Molineux, a place where they've only won five times all season. On current form you wouldn't back Lambert's side to win more than one of those six. In which case this relegation dogfight will go right to the wire.

Whether they're struggling to handle the Molineux crowd, or struggling to break defensive teams down, the Wolves players and staff need to find a formula to win games at home. If they don't, then League One looms large.

Weimann winner

A striker was selected from the start in the lone striker role and scored a goal. The last time that happened was on August 20, in the 3-1 win at Blues.

Since then only Joe Mason and Nouha Dicko have netted one apiece, although Mason was in the number 10 role when he did so (against Villa) and Dicko was a substitute (in the return fixture against Blues).

So yes, it's been an embarrassing and unforgivably long time coming. The manner in which Weimann took his match-winning goal - showing strength, persistence, pace and poise in beating his man and then rounding the keeper - suggested he could net a few more. He certainly will if he receives passes like the impressive Ben Marshall gave him.

Weimann and Marshall were the two most effective attacking players at Ipswich on Tuesday and that was the case here too.

With Helder Costa woefully out of form, Ivan Cavaleiro still returning to fitness and Dicko and Bodvarsson not scoring enough to justify their places, new boys Weimann and Marshall are stepping up.

Team selection

The 2pm Twitter meltdown is now a 'thing'. It happens every week - Wolves drop the team news bombshell and everyone loses the plot.

Occasionally it's slightly warranted, mostly it isn't. But Saturday's team selection got as much stick as any.

The problem was it was a 'safety' selection. It's understandable, given the predicament Wolves are in, that Lambert's XI was a team of workers on a day when mental strength was more important than ability. But there was no sign of the handbrake being taken off.

Wolves won the game, so you can say it was justified, but to leave out attacking full-backs Matt Doherty and Dominic Iorfa when, in the first half in particular, Romain Saiss effectively became a third centre back, was an odd move.

Iorfa was a promising attacking presence at Reading last weekend but was then dropped. Lee Evans, a front-foot ball-player who can pick a pass, wasn't even in the squad for a game when Wolves were always going to see a lot of the ball against a defensive-minded team. Bright Enobakhare, who can produce something out of nothing, was also absent.

None of the midfield trio selected - Saiss, David Edwards and Jack Price - impressed (the latter two both carelessly conceded possession to gift Rotherham golden chances) and there was far too much hoof ball and head tennis.

Lambert seems to have decided he hasn't got the players to enact the style he likes, so is going safety-first. It worked for Kenny Jackett when he led Wolves clear of danger with four successive victories last Christmas. It needs to work for Lambert too, because not winning - and not playing with any style to boot - will attract fierce criticism.

Window of opportunity

Tuesday's trip to Brentford offers a window of opportunity. If Wolves can win a game in hand on all their rivals bar Blackburn (who travel to Fulham the same night) they'll be up to 18th, just two behind Blues and four points clear of the drop zone on the back of seven points from nine.

That would take the pressure off Saturday's daunting visit to Craven Cottage ahead of an international break - and then a vital week of fixtures against Cardiff, Nottingham Forest and Bristol City in early April (i.e. sink or swim time).

The path to salvation is mapped out. But, bluntly, if Wolves play like they did against Rotherham for the rest of the season they'll be relegated.

On a nervous afternoon fraught with tension they were laboured, hesitant, uptight and unimaginative, with their inability to play through the wall of 10 Rotherham shirts behind the ball painfully obvious for all to see.

Lambert and Wolves did what they had to do here, but it's going to take a lot more than one scrappy win to appease the restless natives – and the unpredictable owners.

He has two tasks in the next 11 games – to keep Wolves up and prove he's the man to sort this club out in the long term. At the moment you have to say the jury is still out on both fronts. Wolves' restless and increasingly angry supporters are certainly not convinced.

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