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Wolves 3 Bristol City 3 – Five talking points

By Tim Spiers | Wolves | Published: | Last Updated:

Wolves and Bristol City shared six goals in an enthralling encounter at Molineux.

Diogo Jota scored his third goal for Wolves (© AMA / Sam Bagnall)

Leo Bonatini, Diogo Jota and Danny Batth were on the scoresheet for Nuno Espirito Santo's team who extended their unbeaten run to four matches in all competitions.

But poor defending, particularly from set pieces, cost Wolves dearly in a game they certainly should have won.

So what did we learn from the game? Wolves correspondent Tim Spiers picks out five talking points.

Cav is back

Nuno kept him on a leash...and Cavaleiro duly produced arguably his best performance in a Wolves shirt.

The winger made his first league start of the campaign and was unplayable at times, linking excellently with Matt Doherty down Wolves' potent right flank and having a hand in two goals, not to mention almost scoring two himself.

Cavaleiro was utilised on the left wing that season but he looks even more effective on the right, with a trio of impact-laden substitute cameos preceding this 76-minute performance which surely confirms his place in the starting XI...until Helder Costa returns.

Yes, Wolves' squad is looking very strong right now and the returns of Costa, Kortney Hause, Morgan Gibbs-White and Phil Ofosu-Ayeh will give Nuno almost an embarrassment of riches in a squad that looks deep enough to cover almost all eventualities.

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Are you not entertained?

There's a vibrancy, almost a giddy expectancy, at Molineux right now.

Fans are turning up expecting that they'll be entertained and see some bloody good football – and Wolves are delivering almost week after week.

But last night's match topped the lot so far. Wolves reached hitherto unseen levels in terms of their swashbuckling handbrake-free forays into the Bristol third, particularly during the 10 minutes after half time when they could easily have scored four goals but had to settle for one.

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The 3-4-3 formation – aided by consistently effective performances from the three wing backs utilised so far (and Matt Doherty took it up a notch here with his best display of the season, adding end product to a tireless work rate) – is working a treat.

And the fact that 23,045 turned up on a chilly, wet Tuesday night – Wolves' highest Tuesday/Wednesday midweek attendance for more than five years – shows just how much of an impact Nuno and his team are already having on the club's increasingly impassioned fanbase.

Those on the pitch are in tune with those off it. And you couldn't have said that too often in the past five years.

Aden Flint equalised after 43 minutes and the half time whistle a couple of minutes later would traditionally have been the signal for a chorus of boos. Last night they stood to applaud.

Achilles heel

Yet despite all the positivity Wolves didn't actually win. They mustered almost double the number of shots of their opponents, created far more clear cut chances and dominated the game for long spells.

So what went wrong? Well primarily they shot themselves in the foot with some careless and shoddy defending from set pieces.

If Wolves don't nip this in the bud soon it'll be their Achilles heel this season. The problem has been evident throughout the opening weeks, particularly at Hull where it cost them a goal but also at Southampton, where they got lucky.

Last night though two goals were conceded because Wolves failed to deal with regulation balls into the box (Ruben Neves didn't cover himself in glory on either occasion). Wolves scored two from corners themselves, but as Nuno admitted afterwards it's a deficiency they must iron out before long.

Zonal marking can work but Wolves just aren't executing it as their head coach would like – there just aren't enough players attacking the ball.

Rubbish refs

Another reason they didn't win was the performance of referee Stephen Martin.

Wolves were 2-1 up and absolutely flying when Martin judged that Ruben Vinagre deliberately handled a cross that was hit about two yards away from him.

Vinagre is asking for trouble with his hand out...but it's ball to hand all day long.

Danny Batth was pole-axed by Bailey Wright but a Twitter video taken from the South Bank showed Wright with his eyes towards the ball and the two big centre halves merely caused an almost collision when the crashed into each other.

However the referee simply failed to control the game thereafter.

Nuno has been vocal on the subject of referees and had another pop last night...but moaning and complaining about the officials before, during or after a match is going to do Wolves no good whatsoever. And neither is haranguing the fourth official.

Wolves' card will already be marked by the powers-that-be. The last thing officials appreciate is how to do their job and we saw with Walter Zenga last year that grumbling will do no good – in fact the decisions got worse the more Zenga complained.

Bullish Batth

Wolves showed good character to claim a draw after Bristol City had taken the lead just eight minutes from time.

It would likely have been a game they'd have lost last season but up popped captain Danny Batth with a towering header to rescue a point.

Batth has split opinion for three seasons now but his professionalism and determination cannot be questioned.

He was written off by many in the summer but despite not starting the season in the team he hasn't thrown his toys out of the pram, or asked for a transfer before deadline day...and Willy Boly's injury has afforded him an opportunity he's grasped with both hands with two very good performances in four days.

With the departures of Dave Edwards and Nouha Dicko he's also now the top club goalscorer in Wolves' squad, which shows you just how many changes have happened in the past 12 months.

Batth's fifth goal in his past 10 appearances (the most productive run from a centre half since Jody Craddock netted four in five in the Premier League in 2009) took him to 14 in Wolves colours.

Tim Spiers

By Tim Spiers
@tim_spiers_Star

Writes about Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club for a living

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