Wolves Fans' Verdict v Barnsley: A win's a win

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

Our fans breath a sigh of relief after Wolves leave it very, very late to beat Barnsley.

Clockwise from top left; Russ Cockburn, Russ Evers, Adam Virgo, Heather Large, Chris Hughes, Natalie Wood, Clive Smith and Rob Cartwright

Chris Hughes

What's your verdict on the match? They say the hallmark of a great team is to win games when not at their best. Well, on this evidence, we are showing ourselves to be a good team.

We moved the ball well and controlled the game for the most part but our decision making and delivery in the final third drifted between average and appalling for most of the game. On another day we may have made much more of our possession but, as it was, we stumbled our way to a late goal from Bright to put us ahead before allowing Barnsley to level through, unsurprisingly, a set piece goal as the board went up to inform us of four minutes of added time. Did we expect a winner? Maybe not. But this is Wolves 2.0 and the game doesn't end until the ref blows that final whistle.

To see the unbridled joy from all four sides of a packed Molineux, as well as from the eleven on the field, when N'Diaye turned in Bonatini's excellent cross to give us the winner brought a feeling that this is a club going places. Winning ugly is still winning and the points we accumulate from games like this could make all the difference when May comes around.

Who played well – and who didn't impress? Due to our recent high standards it was hard to pinpoint a stand-out performer. Several players were below their recent exceptional performance levels but a mention has to go to Coady, who marshalled the back line almost to perfection for 90 minutes, Douglas, who gave us an added attacking impetus and tempo after his half time introduction, and N'Diaye, who just took the game by the scruff of the neck and delivered an all action 15 minutes or so that brought an assist and a winning goal as well as three or four crunching challenges to win possession. When he's fully fit he will be a real asset in this division.

Harsh as it may be – both Jota and Neves were below their recent high standards. That's not to say they were poor, just that they dropped from the levels they've set from earlier performances. Neves misplaced more passes today than I've seen him do in the rest of his performances combined and Jota seemed to operate on the periphery for most of the game.

Heather Large

What's your verdict on the match? Fighting for a last-grasp winner says so much about this Wolves side.


In seasons gone by, we would have been left so deflated by the equaliser that it would have been game over. But not this team. We never stopped battling, even after Alfred N'Diaye made it 2-1, and as the ref was blowing the final whistle, we were soaring up the pitch after a third.

Although, it has to be said, the first half was pretty dire. We were sluggish from the start and failed to take control of the game. The ideas were there but the quality definitely was not.

We were losing possession far too easily, passing was sloppy and we were not working together as a team as well as we have been doing.

Thankfully, the second half was much better. We were able to build a bit of momentum and the addition of Barry Douglas and Bright Enobakhare seemed to wake us up. We were more creative going forward and started to look like we might nick a goal.


And it was N'Diaye with 10 minutes to go who changed the game completely, first with an assist to help Enobakhare score his second goal in five days.

But we always look our most vulnerable after we've scored so it was no real surprise to me when Barnsley equalised.

The players reacted straight away though, still eager to get more from the game. Then came the moment we could never have predicted as N'Diaye netted the winner.

It's great that we're now capable of winning a game like that.

Overall, it was far from our best performance but our unwillingness to give up is what won us the three points in the end.

Who played well – and who didn't impress? Well, it was definitely Enobakhare and N'Diaye who had the biggest impact on the game.

But it was also another solid performance from Conor Coady and Danny Batth. Both coped well when Barnsley put us under a bit of pressure. Leo Bonatini had a decent game, although he really should have scored in the first half, he made up for it later by setting up the winner.

Diogo Jota and Ruben Neves seemed to lack the energy and creativity of previous games. Hopefully, just an off day for them.

Natalie Wood

What's your verdict on the match? There seems to be a reoccurring theme of poor first halves this season and this was no exception. We seemed really lethargic and lacking creativity. Barnsley had a clear game plan of pressing high up and not giving us any space and it really worked

I think we really deserved to be behind at the break and after watching replays looks like Barnsley had a good shout for a penalty. We did have a few half chances and played some lovely football at times with Bonatini in particular looking the most effective. He did miss a few chances that I would really like to see our main striker to be scoring but there is no doubt he played an important part in the game.

I was hoping the reoccurring theme of an improved second half would then follow but I can’t say it improves that much for the first 15minutes or so, we looked a bit more lively but we were still missing that killer touch in the box. Neves and Jota weren’t as influential during the match and that really showed in our overall performance.

Without trying to state the obvious I think it is fair to say the two second half substitutes made all the difference! Before the arrival of Enobakhare and N’Diaye it looked like we were witnessing a classic 0-0 but the injection of life these two brought, changed it all.

When Barnsley scored their equaliser you felt the whole ground slump but the second the game kicked off again you could see straight away the fight and hunger of the team and the celebrations both on the pitch and on the bench for the winner showed what it means to the team.

We have produced three pretty average performances however still managed to walk away with three wins – I don’t think any fan can complain about that.

I don’t want to say it too loudly but I’m starting to feel there may be something special happening!!

Who played well – and who didn't impress? Aside from Bonatini I thought Saiss was one of the only players that played near to his potential. He made some lovely crosses and won some vital challenges in midfield.

I’ll be the first to admit I’m not a massive fan of Enobakhare however he is improving massively as each game goes by, his goal was a superb finish and he had managed to get himself into a great position. He looks like he could become a fantastic player for us.

N’Diaye doesn’t seem to be talked about a lot amongst the fans but I think he looks like a great addition to the team and I really rate him. He made a huge impact on the game putting in some great crosses, winning important tackles and most importantly being in the right place at the right time to slide home the winner!

Adam Virgo

What's your verdict on the match? My word do Wolves love to do things the hard way. Another game that in the last couple of seasons we would have ended up dropping points. Poor performance but you can’t play well every game and it shows great character and belief in the team at 1-1 to go and reply instantly. I saw some of our fans leaving when Barnsley equalised which I don’t understand. There was about three minutes left so they may as well stay until the end at that point, just shows that they have no belief and automatically presumed we were going to draw 1-1, shame on them.

The first half, from an attacking point of view, was probably the worst I’ve seen this season. Cavaleiro had our best chance and from my view it looked like he should have scored, to be fair to him he was our main outlet going forward until he got taken off. Defensively we weren’t massively troubled but Batth got slightly lucky to not give a penalty away after a push on Tom Bradshaw.

Second half was slightly better but we clearly weren’t at the races yesterday and we struggled to control the game like we have done in previous games. Another goal conceded from a set piece but we had the character to go up the other end and get the winner which is great to see with major scenes when we made it 2-1.

Jota got on the ball more and started to make things happen but overall he was poor. I’m sure everyone can let him off though after his masterclass last week. Nuno played his cards right yesterday, Douglas, Enobakhare and N’Diaye all made an impact when coming on. A lot of people were calling for Costa including myself instead of N’Diaye but in the end a fantastic decision from the main man.

Who played well – and who didn't impress? Alfred N’diaye the super sub, game changer, call him what you want but this guy is a machine. When he’s running into the box you just let him because he’ll knock you out the way if not anyway. He loves his forward bursting runs, he’s made a few when playing but they’ve been effective and yesterday proved it again with a goal and an assist. Big Alf just does what he wants when he’s on the pitch, he can defend and go forward which is exactly what you need sometimes.

Bright Enobakhare – another player introduced in the second half and making an impact. Great improvisation on the volley to score, two goals in the space of five days and surely the confidence is brewing in him now. Not afraid to beat players, the ball sticks to him like glue at times and he’s never one to shy away, not worried to take a risk by taking on defenders and yesterday he came on and did well.

Four assists for Bonatini now which is impressive for a striker. He should have scored in the second half but he made up for it with an incredible pass to N’Diaye for the winner. Some strikers might have just shot across the keeper there especially with how late it was but Bonatini is a very intelligent forward, great play the Brazilian. He doesn’t get a lot of credit for the good work he does but he’s such a good asset to our front three and in nine league games he’s managed three goals and four assists.

Defensively we were fine and Ruddy didn’t have loads to do. Obviously another goal conceded from a set piece which was down to a lack of concentration and it’s like the players feel the nerves inside the stadium. The back three are playing well though and it’s not as if we’re getting opened up so that’s always a good sign.

A few players were poor yesterday including Vinagre, Neves and Jota but we all know how good they are and as a team we managed to grind out the win which is the most important thing. We’ve got some great options on the bench now which is always important to have in games such as yesterday when you’re not playing well and you can change things up. Two big games this week, Sheffield United isn’t easy but I believe we can pick up six points from them and Burton, especially if we’re on our game.

Rob Cartwright

What's your verdict on the match? I've seen lots of post match comments about "winning when not playing well is the sign of a great team". Well, let me tell you, when I consider the utter dross we've endured over the years (Hoddle, Solbakken and Lambert spring to mind) if this was not playing well I'd take it every week.

How times and expectations change quickly! We played some very good football and although things were not quite clicking for us, the team persevered with Nuno's style. If at first you don't succeed try, try and try again.

Our style does seem more suited to away games, where we can break at speed and catch teams out. My only criticism is that we are too slow in our approach play, at home, and do not get enough players into their box for the final ball.

To be honest, I felt nervous with 20 minutes to go. The result could go either way. However, Nuno was able to turn to the strongest Wolves bench that I can remember. We had game changers waiting to come on. Would we see Costa return to set up the winner? No need to risk him. Let's bring on one of our academy stars to score his second goal in a week, and then to seal it bring on our most recent signing (who by the way, is another gem who came in under the radar) to set up the first goal and then score the winner.

Perfect timing – Nuno you are a tactical genius.

Who played well – and who didn't impress? Vinagre has been a good deputy for Douglas, but was being stretched by Hammill who was enjoying his return to Molineux, as is the tradition. Douglas on at half time was the first good change and that paid dividends down the left side.

Stand out players were Coady, Saiss and Cavaleiro.

Cavaleiro was our main attacking outlet and most of our chances were either made or taken by him. He had run out of steam when replaced and was guilty of trying to do it all himself. A very astute substitution. Saiss was excellent in first half and controlled much of the play. It was the right decision to replace him too for final ten minutes, as he was on a booking and always likely to receive another!

What a 10 minutes that was to be. N'Diaye changed the game with his positive forward momentum and greater urgency in moving the ball. He made one and scored the winner. Hi Ho Wolverhampton!

Shout out for Bonatini too. What a player he is. Superb movement and use of the ball. He's getting criticism for not scoring enough. I hope that comes good as he offers so much to the team and plays an instrumental role in this formation.

Sheffield has all the makings of a great night.

Clive Smith

What's your verdict on the match? What's that saying – it's not how you start it's how you finish that counts. Well we certainly took a long time to start.

I seemed to look at the clock every five minutes in the first half and thought - something worthwhile had to happen soon. By the break the only highlight was a great cross pulled back from Vinagre for Cav to shoot wide.

Elsewhere Jota had a header, Doherty stole into the box and Cav shot over but we generally looked well off form. Our passing was poor, our movement lacking and our game plan included more long direct balls than in any other game.

Accurate diagonal passes to the wing backs rarely managed to create much. Instead it was long balls, but more centrally, that were easily dealt with by Barnsley. Cav seemed intent on drifting into the left channel which resulted in Jota hardly being on the ball. After the Forest game we wanted to see Jota on he ball more than ever.

The 0-0 scoreline was as good as we deserved and Barnsley had an excellent headed chance that could have cost us. We had no attempts on target. The worst 45 minutes we have played this season?

Nuno does not seem the sort to use the hairdryer treatment at half time, but whatever was said did have an initial affect.

Maybe he just said 'forget the negativity' Two shots on target in the next five minutes offered some hope. Vinagre had been swapped for Douglas by then and e was involved early in those attempts. We moved the ball around better but it was still our defence that had the most work to do. To be honest, disappointingly, I would have taken a point at that time. If anyone was going to score then it looked likely it would be Barnsley – probably from a corner.

Enobakhare came on for Cav to freshen the front three – after his midweek efforts he deserved his chance. What followed was an exciting (and another) rollercoaster 20 (plus four) minutes.

N'Diaye set up Enobakhare to give us the lead and the chance to steal all the points. We tried to run the clock down but our body language had changed. We looked to have gone down two gears. Any initiative we had eked away.

A free kick bounced around our box, then the ball fell on the edge of the area and was fired into our net. Already in added time it looked like a drawn game.

Amazingly there was one more piece of excitement to come in added time. A clever move with Enobakhare, Bonatini and N'Diaye broke Barnsley's hearts and gave us another home win.

Hopefully all the 28,000 had stayed until the end to see it.

Who played well – and who didn't impress? Ruddy had little involvement making saves but had more back passes to deal with than usual.

Doherty made a promising start in both of the halves but saw less of the ball in attack than usual. Vinagre also saw little of the ball going forward and looked tired in possession. His one cross did deserve a better finish. Douglas came on at the interval. He looked stronger and helped Miranda defending.

Coady did a good job. He continues to look more at home in that position the more he plays there. Batth was again our best defender. Winning headers, making tackles, blocking shots. Miranda seemed a bit nervy when under pressure. It was harder to find a simple pass out of defence. He did advance forward with the ball at time and was comfortable doing that. Remembering he is still new to England and the Championship, he has adapted well.

I thought Saiss stepped up. He, more than anyone, tried to generate pace and a better tempo to our play. His passing was better than anyone else's and he was man of the match for me. He did let himself down with a needless yellow which may have been behind Nuno swapping him for N'Diaye.

Neves – if ever there was a game for him to influence it was this one. His form has dipped from the opening few weeks, hopefully he can find his mojo again soon.

Jota had a low key game. Disappointing after his second half at Forest. Cav – a busy bee for an hour, he should have hit the target a couple of times. He looks better as an impact sub than a regular starter. Jota and Cav can be a luxury when we don't have the ball and that can give the initiative to the opposition and put the defence under pressure - looking short of numbers.

Bonatini, like many others, never really showed up in the first half. Later he had a couple of chances to score but missed them. Credit is due for his assist in the winner though. A terrific pass.

Enobakhare had quite an influential cameo. Showed his usual energy and did very well to make sufficient contact with the cross that was well directed for his goal. With an assist on the second goal too - a good choice of sub

Talking of good subs, N'Diaye also proved to be that. An accurate far post cross and a clinical finish. Say it quickly and it does not sound much, but in the end it was what helped turn a forgettable 0-0 into a dramatic three points.

Russ Evers (Hatherton Wolves)

What's your verdict on the match? And the rollercoaster continues! A frustrating game for 80 minutes where we huffed and puffed and played well in parts.

Fair play to Barnsley as they looked a solid and capable team and kept it level until Bright's superb finish in the 81st minute. The defence seemed to have all angles covered with Ruddy not having a shot to save but they rattled in a 90th minute leveller only to see sub N'Diaye pop up with the winner two minutes later. Not the worst sub ever as he helped set up Bright's opener.

In recent years this is a game we would have been hanging on or even lost but all credit to the new breed who kept believing. Great to see Costa back on the bench too.

Who played well – and who didn't impress? No one let themselves down or really stood out apart from N'Diaye's late contribution – the strength is in the pack.

Russ Cockburn

What's your verdict on the match? Joint top of the league, a packed Molineux and playing one of the less fancied sides usually only means one thing…a massive anti-climax.

To be fair, the team did its best to live up to those typical Wolves standards by putting in one of the least inspiring performances of the season. Thankfully, some magical substitutions from Nuno managed to change a rather dull 0-0 into a thrilling 2-1 win, a vital three points with a very tough looking away trip to Bramall Lane to follow this week.

They reckon it’s the sign of a promotion challenging team to win games when not playing well so I’ll take yesterday’s result. Too many of our big names didn’t really perform and when the centre midfield two aren’t firing it affects the entire flow of the team and our ability to create chances.

Neves was very ordinary and needs to have more control on the game to warrant his £15m price tag, whilst Jota, who has been irrepressible in the last five games, only really came to life in the last 20 minutes.

Vinagre also found it tough and it came as no surprise when Douglas was introduced and this definitely helped us up the tempo in the second half.

Defensively we again look suspect on corners and set pieces and I can’t help but feel this will need addressing before it costs us a defeat. Positively, this teams doesn’t know the meaning of accepting the norm…how many other Wolves teams would concede in the 90th minute and then come back to win it a few moments later. Terrific stuff to see those Hovis-eating Tykes sent packing back to their whippets after gloating about their equaliser.

Who played well – and who didn't impress? Difficult to look past the super subs as our star players, which tells you all you need to know about the performance.

Bright, as so often happens, was a nuisance for a tiring Barnsley defence and his volley was a thing of pure beauty. It was probably a good job it came to him quickly as he’s much better when he plays on instinct and doesn’t over think things.

Then we have N’Diaye. Old Alf managed to claim one assist and one well taken goal in less time than it normally takes me to finish one of the infamous boiling hot Molineux pies. He’s shaping up to be a very good player for us and is already competing for a starting position.

The other player I wanted to mention was Bonatini. He’s not the quickest and you could argue he should have scored more so far, but he’s essential in making Nuno’s system work by bringing other players in at just the right time.

The ball in for Alf was a thing of real beauty and comes just seven days after a similar pass opened up the Nottingham Forest defence.

Special mention to @studavis, who managed to land a left hook to my mush that Anthony Joshua would have been proud of. I didn’t mind, no better feeling than a 93rd minute winner is there?

Tim Spiers

By Tim Spiers

Writes about Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club for a living


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