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Wolves Fans' Verdict v Barnsley: A point closer to promotion

By Tim Spiers | Wolves | Published:

Our fans take the positives from a point at Barnsley.

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

Rob Cartwright

What's your verdict on the match? Well, this didn’t quite go to script but I consider it to be another point towards promotion.

Nuno selected, arguably, our best starting XI and we started the game very well dominating possession and chances in the first quarter of an hour.

Costa had the ball in the net, but was offside.

However, following stoppages for treatment to Jota and Doherty, we lost our way and to be honest the rest of the first half was a dire affair.

We were in control, without causing them any danger. Ruddy was only called upon for routine stuff as their first real chance was blazed over the bar from outside the box at the end of the half.

We started the second well too, with a greater urgency to move the ball forward. Jota ‘scored’ following a lovely passage of play but was waved offside. Wrongly in my opinion. It didn’t matter, as we were going to win this game quite easily in the last half an hour. We were playing well, but lacked the killer ball into the box.

Cavaleiro came on for Costa just at the right time, although I thought Jota looked like he needed a rest more. He looked as though he was running on empty.

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This may account for an extraordinary miss towards the end. To get the ball over the bar from less than a yard is some achievement!

We came away with a point, had most chances, most possession and played some good football, but not at our best by a long way.

The reality check says this was by far better football than anything we did in the league last season, so there wasn’t much wrong. Fair play to Barnsley who defended very well and celebrated like they’d won the league at the end - and why not?

Oakwell is a lovely ground to visit. You didn’t not see many TV gantries sticking out of the roof of the stand anymore. More's the pity.

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Who played well – and who didn't impress? Boly was head and shoulders better than anyone else on the pitch, in more ways than one. Man ‘mountain’ of the match who let nothing past him and used the ball so well. I don’t recall him ever giving away possession. I remember well the 70 yard cross field pass straight to Doherty’s feet!

Saiss was excellent too, until his needless booking for a trip. Coady, Bennett, Doherty and Douglas all did well, if not spectacular.

Neves was well marshalled and thus restricted. Good homework by Barnsley.

Costa and Bonatini had little impact. It just wasn’t Jota’s day though. He had a goal disallowed, hit the bar and then had our miss of the season. Full marks for keep trying.

Cavaleiro did well for half an hour, but couldn’t find the killer ball we lacked either.

It was reported that Mendes and Fosun senior management were in attendance. If that’s right, a 0-0 could actually be just the result we needed!

Heather Large

What's your verdict on the match? It was a pretty average performance with not a lot to excite the huge crowd of travelling fans.

While on paper we looked like the favourites to take three points, it just wasn’t Wolves’ day.

We looked tired and a little lethargic in the first half, maybe it was a delayed side effect of the busy Christmas and New Year match schedule?

We certainly lacked the pace and creativity going forward that we’ve come to expect from this side, particularly in the first 45-minutes as it took us a while to get going. We did at least improve after the break.

While there was some superb passing throughout the match, at times the ball wasn’t reaching its target man, frustrating both players and fans.

But it’s another point in the right direction and a clean sheet away from home so certainly nothing to worry about. The top of the table is still looking pretty good!

Who played well – and who didn't impress? I thought Romain Saiss was man of the match by far as his passing and distribution was excellent and he seemed determined to fight for more than a point. Conor Coady and Willy Boly were again strong at the back with very little getting past them.

Chris Hughes

What's your verdict on the match? Ho-hum a goalless away draw. This is what we’re going to have to expect for the rest of the season. The unfortunate side effect of being the runaway league leaders is that teams will be over the moon with a point against us regardless of how they get it.

Only one team wanted to force the issue to win the game but we couldn’t find the breakthrough. There will be many frustrating afternoons between now and May to contend with.

On another day Jota could have had a hat trick with the chance he somehow put over the bar, the one ruled out for offside and the one that hit the bar.

Disappointing as it may be for some fans it’s another point gained on our quest for promotion.

Russ Evers (Hatherton Wolves)

What's your verdict on the match? Had we not been 12 points clear at kick off this may have been considered two points dropped.

As it is, we earned another away point and kept another clean sheet.

Add to that the two goals disallowed, Jota’s thunderbolt against the bar and then the same player's open goal miss, it is another game we largely controlled and deserved three points.

To be fair to Barnsley they scrapped for every ball and worked themselves into the usual freezing cold South Yorkshire ground.

Win at home and draw away is a mantra that will win you most leagues and our belief grows stronger.

Who played well – and who didn't impress? Whilst Boly was magnificent, others were perhaps below their best but Rafa Mir showed some neat touches when he came on.

Natalie Wood

What's your verdict on the match? The match was so painfully scrappy at times and I think my brother summed it up perfectly – "exactly the sort of game that all Premier League club fans imagine every Championship game is like".

To be honest I can’t even remember the first half, it was so forgettable. It felt like more time was spent waiting for someone to take yet another free kick than anything else.

Wolves lacked creativity and imagination in the first 45 minutes. You could see Costa trying to create something but the speed wasn’t there and he looked off the pace.

The game did change when Cavaleiro came on. He injected the life that Wolves were missing and they started to look more like the team we know and love, but it just didn’t fall for us.

There were lots of frustrating lazy passes and shots that on another day would have gone in. Obviously the chance of the match was Jota’s miss....I don’t think he could do that again if he tried a thousand times!

Who played well – and who didn't impress? It was a pretty substandard team performance but key players for me would be Willy Boly – who put in another superb performance at the back and – Cavaleiro.

He made a big impact when he came on and created some great chances...you do have to wonder what he has to do to be picked ahead of Costa?!

Russ Cockburn

What's your verdict on the match? A trip to the land of Hovis and Whippets is always like taking a step back in time and the first 45 minutes reminded me of the Lambert era where we created little and lacked urgency. It was certainly not what we have been used to so far under the beautifully crafted guise of Nuno Espirito Santo.

We’ve started slowly in a few games recently and for those of us on the 14.06 from Sheffield it wasn’t a bad thing, as we missed the first 15 minutes due to an overcrowded train and some terrible planning by the police and rail network. Still it did create the highlight of the day...a sing-song with Gala Bingo’s finest opposite the rail crossing...if you were on that train you’ll know what I mean.

Apparently we didn’t miss much and that was how the rest of the half played out. Barnsley, to their credit, did a job on nullifying our wing backs and the top three were largely ineffective.

At the other end, our defensive shape was hardly tested, with Boly again coasting through the 90 minutes and Coady doing his best to drive forward from the back.

As many have said on Twitter, if you’re not firing on all cylinders going forward then let’s make sure we don’t concede and the two banks of four we slip into without the ball is testimony to how well drilled we are.

Second half was a lot better with Wolves dominating the last 30 minutes without having a shot on target, probably the most disappointing element from yesterday. Costa cut a forlorn figure and is desperately searching for the confidence he displayed this time last year.

I’m still hoping he’ll come good, but the time has come for Cav to come into the starting XI. Yes he can also be frustrating. However, he changes the dynamics of the team in our favour and appears to have a really good relationship with Doherty, which brings the latter into play a lot more.

Jota, who was poor compared to his normal standards, still looked the most likely match winner, crashing the ball against the bar and somehow managing to miss a sitter that Frankowski would probably have scored.

So we settle for a point, a point closer to the Premier League. Some of the frustration and comments I heard coming out the ground made me think we had lost to 10 men and were rooted firmly at the bottom of the table.

There’s no need to panic, a 10 point gap to Derby (who are still to play at Molineux) and the rest of the chasing pack so tightly condensed they’ll end up taking points off each other.

We don’t want to turn into the type of fans who turn up expecting to win and not offering the level of vocal support our away supporters are known for…in other words Villa fans! Trust in Nuno and enjoy the ride.

Who played well – and who didn't impress? In a game starved of attacking quality, I think it’s only right to praise the defence and ours is second to none. So many clean sheets, so much control, so much calmness. They get my collective man of the match.

Finally, what the heck is Saiss doing with his hair. It must be to raise money for charity so can someone send me the JustGiving link and I’ll send him a couple of quid?

Clive Smith

What's your verdict on the match? The extra couple of thousand away fans who made the trip will be wondering what all the fuss was about at Bristol City. The first half was very forgettable. We had a goal ruled out for offside and...

Our passing was not as good as we have come to expect. Many were short and resulted in plenty of 50-50 challenges where we were second best far too often. Barnsley's tackling was not for the faint-hearted.

Predictably Jota ended up in a heap at one point. Not for the first time this does affect his play. He is the one who ends up later being booked for a needless challenge.

It was an early booking for Saiss that stifled his contribution from then on and with Neves short of long range passing options we found no rhythm in our play. Defensively we looked okay, only a couple of heading chances caused a hint of concern.

We had to be better in the second half. It looked better instantly when Costa put a cross over just a couple of yards from goal but no-one could get on the end of it.

The game was more open but it took ages before we started to have any form of control. When Boly is the most positive influence through midfield you know Plan A has had to be discarded for the time being.

Yet again Cavaleiro provided the catalyst for our belated improvement in the final third. His link play with Doherty looked the most likely way of breaking the deadlock.

Saiss missed a good chance with a header he could only glance from a corner. Presumably it was Costa who has gone offside when his headed at the far post was put in the net by Jota.

Jota was at the centre of our other best attempts. First he had a shot from the edge of the box that hit the bar then he missed from a yard. Imagine the comments had it been Enobakhare who had missed that.

Our front three were all below par. Here's a question – if you go back to the start of December, the Blues game, and look at the form of Jota and Bonatini...would you still want to convert their loans into permanent deals?

Interesting to hear the opposition manager say that 'without the ball, Wolves are the hardest team to play against'. That's probably not a way most Wolves fans think to look at ourselves. It does back up the Nuno philosophy of 'getting it right at the back', we defend as a team and the positivity around a 'clean sheet'.

An away point is not to be scoffed at, nor a clean sheet, but it was a slightly below par performance by Wolves in a match we nearly all expected to win.

Who played well – and who didn't impress? Another routine game from Ruddy. Nothing much to save, a few crosses well caught and good distribution.

Doherty and Douglas both looked lacklustre in the first half before improving after the break. The last 20 minutes saw both of them at their best.

Bennett continues his unbeaten run and defended well. Coady too put in a competent and mature performance.

Man of the match Boly really tried to push for a more positive result. Constantly he ran forward with the ball and looked totally in control when defending.

Saiss's booking looked to affect his game. Either that or his haircut (!) which does showcase his facial hair somewhat.

Neves was short of his best. Crowded out in midfield more often than usual, Barnsley did a good job on him.

Costa needed more time on the ball. Too often he would do something good before spoiling it with some wasteful play. He is easily shrugged off the ball. When we get promoted he needs to read the Eden Hazard playbook of how to deceive refs, fall over convincingly and win cheap fouls. Otherwise he will just spend more time on the floor and we will lose possession.

Bonatini continues to link up play neatly and is constantly on the move. Without many goals recently, and not looking as likely to get any, his place must be at risk. Wolves have moved on and players who work hard and put in a shift need more these days.

Although Jota constantly looks the most likely scorer, he only shows his early season form occasionally. When he is on his game it's a joy to see him running forward at pace.

From the bench Cavaleiro looks lively and creative – and once on, the most likely to score or assist on a goal.

Mir too improved our chances once he came on. To be effective though it looks like he wants the ball played into the box quickly. Generally, that is not part of the style we play. If it is his height we want to take advantage of then 'the team' need to be on that wavelength.

Adam Virgo

What's your verdict on the match? I actually missed the first 10 minutes due to the train from Sheffield to Barnsley being unreliable and taking double the time to get to the ground than it actually should have done.

The game was very dull but we still should have won, especially with the chance Jota had in the second half. It was more like a clearance than a clinical finish but I think the bounce resulted in him spooning the chance even though more often than not, he’s burying those type of chances.

It’s a point gained though, and considering it’s away from home and you can’t win every game. I’m more than confident we will win at home next weekend and as we beat Bristol City, a point yesterday isn’t the worst thing.

No idea why Saiss has gone blonde, you could spot him from a mile off but maybe he’s lost a bet with someone to dye his hair. We were never majorly troubled in the middle or defensively, Barnsley had a couple of chances but they spurned them.

We’re still 10 points clear of second which means we’d have to lose four games for Derby to catch us which I can’t see happening.

We weren’t at our best yesterday, nowhere near but it’s another clean sheet which is now 15 for the season, an incredible record. I guess if you can’t win the game then the next best thing is to not lose it.

Who played well – and who didn't impress? Willy Boly was outstanding like he always is. The guy is a brick wall in front of John Ruddy and he made plenty of crucial tackles and interceptions throughout he game. The slide tackle he made towards the end of the game was absolutely incredible.

Defensively we were solid like we have been for the majority of this season. We lacked a bit of creativity up top and maybe that was due to Cavaleiro being on the bench which I was surprised about. I think because of Costa’s performance against Swansea, Nuno rewarded him with a start but he didn’t take his chance. Cavaleiro has to start the next league game for me.

Bonatini and Jota aren’t anywhere near as good as they have been this season but Jota was very unlucky with a shot that hit the bar. He should have scored the tap in that was presented to him on a plate but he ended up turning the chance over the bar instead, somehow.

Saiss was solid in midfield and played a few very good passes in behind Barnsley’s defence to give us some good chances despite picking up another yellow card. Not keen on his blonde hair but with his performances this season, he can do what he wants as long as he keeps it up.

Tim Spiers

By Tim Spiers
@tim_spiers_Star

Writes about Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club for a living

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