A wet Monday night in Sandwell, not everyone's cup of tea perhaps.
Jimenez, Jonny, Neto, Moutinho, Boly missing is obviously a huge hole to fill, we all know that. It meant we looked a very unfamiliar side, not only in personnel but the way we lined up. We had lots of bodies in the middle of the park.
We had four at the back, yet, in the first half, the players making the most impact in the Albion box were Ait-Nouri, Semedo and Saiss. What version of Plan B is that?
It was far more pleasing on the eye in an attacking sense. We did have plenty of possession and enough chances to lead by quite a margin. No one really looked like they were going to score as Traore, Semedo and Neves should have made it harder for their keeper with chances.
As always, when we play at a quicker tempo we carry a greater threat, up to the edge of the box at least.
Vitinha and Dendoncker were quite a contrast. The former, having his best Wolves game, and was looking to find a forward pass at every opportunity. Dendoncker was frustrating, playing too many pointless balls rather than being creative.
There is still a lack of chemistry between Ait-Nouri and Traore which is a shame as they both saw a lot of the ball in the final third. If they clicked, it could be much more profitable.
It was a deserved lead as the balance of play was, with just the odd exception, all in our favour. Patricio looked solid when called upon.
West Brom were very much long ball as their need was greater than ours. Countless headers by Saiss and good cover by MOTM Coady kept things under control. For all the good Semedo was doing in advanced positions he looked vulnerable and exposed on his defensive flank. We conceded from that side which was disappointing as well as predictable.
We ended the game strongly, the frustration was our final pass or choosing when to shoot. Neves in particular looked ideally positioned to shoot as the downpour made conditions difficult for the keepers. There was sympathy for Traore who was fouled time and time again. If we had a set-piece maestro it would make such a difference.
It was a good comeback after the Burnley game and our energy levels and work rate could not be faulted.
A performance that on the whole was better than a lot we’ve seen this season, however the result wasn’t good enough.
The first half was exciting to watch and we created enough chances to score more than one. We had a spell for around 15 minutes where the majority of the ball was in their half and we dominated that period so heavily but just needed more composure in and around the box.
The goal had an element of luck to it but we deserved it, us being positive and Vitinha with the first-time pass through to Semedo was exquisite.
Second half we needed to continue in the same manner, we had the quality to dominate key areas but we didn’t do that. Albion were on top early in the second half and if not for Patricio we’d have conceded sooner than we did.
Horrific defending from Saiss for Diagne’s goal, not anywhere near him and allowing to have a free header. We’ve conceded far too many times from crosses and set pieces, the exact reason why we need two new centre-backs in the summer.
Vitinha was the best player on the pitch by far and it was absolutely criminal from Nuno to take him off. The fact Dendoncker and Adama got 90 minutes with how poor they were is beyond me. Gibbs-White showed that he cared in the short time he was on and he was trying to be positive which was great to see.
All I care about from now until the end of the season is getting no more serious injuries. We had a couple of scares yesterday but I do hope players like Vitinha, Otasowie, Silva etc start the remaining games because it’ll only benefit them. If we don’t sign Vitinha and Ait Nouri in the summer then we’ll be absolute idiots. The latter has improved massively and Vitinha could easily be a star in the future.
Although we could do without more injuries, it was good to see Vitinha and Otasowie starting. The chance to see some running with the ball from midfield? We enjoyed a reasonably entertaining Black Country derby, only missing fans in the ground to add to the drama.
Wolves started on the front foot, with Neves and Otasowie making clear their intent to push forward. A Saiss free header, from a corner, provided Wolves' first chance on goal. There would be plenty more to come.
Ait-Nouri was impressive going forward too and a long dribbling run saw his shot blocked. Semedo also had a great chance which was saved by Johnstone.
Wolves were well on top for first 30 minutes. Indeed, this forced a tactical change by West Brom, with Phillips coming on, which helped them get into the game.
Saiss cleared off the line on 41 minutes; their first chance of the game. Wolves went ahead in added time, at end of first half.
What a lovely flick by Vitinha to Semedo, who played in Silva. A goal his play had deserved.
Albion came at us at the start of the second half.
Patricio needed to make two good saves. Wolves had chances from Neves and two shots from Silva.
Just on the hour, a simple cross was headed in by Diagne. The defence really should be doing better there. Semedo let the cross in too easily and the defence did not challenge their man sufficiently.
Silva then had another shot saved by Johnstone. There were chances for both teams to win it, but a draw was probably the fair result.
Otasowie went off on 70 minutes. He had a positive impact on the game, but gave the ball away too often.
Man of the match Vitinha was replaced by Gibbs-White on 80 minutes. That I did not understand! Coady played well in the back four and Neves battled well in midfield and came away with the war wounds to show.
Overall, a pleasing performance from the younger players.
Considering the startling pitiless storm which resembled Act Three of a production of King Lear, this was a thoroughly decent contest; spirited, committed and surprisingly entertaining.
After comfortable domination during the first half, it was disappointing that Wolves didn’t sustain their advantage and win the game. Instead, we faded a touch and invited pressure, conceded an equaliser before finishing reasonably well when we may have nicked the game.
It’s always hard to view any of these derbies dispassionately but overall, the result was a fair one. Both clubs will look back with frustration; Wolves for letting slip a good opportunity to win at The Hawthorns after so long and Albion will probably concede that this was a game they simply had to win.
Interest was maintained all through and from our perspective and considering our depleted resources, this was a vast improvement on the lamentable shambles served up against Burnley. Some of the younger element staked claims for future inclusion; Ait-Nouri and Fabio both impressed particularly in the first period, Otasowie overcame a difficult start to make a worthwhile contribution whilst Vitinha produced his best game in a Wolves shirt and showed conclusively that he has the ability to perform at the highest level.
He was influential all game, confident in possession, always looking to be creative and a steadying influence in midfield. Both teams wasted excellent scoring opportunities with both goalkeepers rescuing their respective outfits with some quality saves especially in such adverse conditions. In contrast to the Burnley game, Wolves certainly competed; work-rate, tracking back and tackling all basics that were mysteriously forgotten were all back on the agenda.
Of course, weaknesses were still evident; Albion were stronger aerially in both penalty boxes and their equaliser was another example of a glaring deficiency at the back that must be addressed before next season.
Similarly, the lack of a cutting edge in front of goal saw chances spurned which could have clinched the game. Frustrating not to have won, but not complaining either; a decent effort in filthy conditions.
A game there for the taking and for once a decent first half. We more than deserved a 1-0 half-time lead and fair play to Silva for being there where it matters – easily his best game in a Wolves shirt too.
Vitinha ran the show and Coady was back to his best whilst young Ait-Nouri at left-wing-back had a great game before being injured.
But too many others were below par either for the whole game of for the second half and that cost us the win – Semedo was yet again no closer than 25 yards from the winger for the cross that led to the equaliser and Saiss must do better in those situations.
After that the rain became the biggest talking point and it was another cold, wet and windy evening spent sat outside (yes outside) the magnificent Duke of York in Wolves (aka The Tap).
Whilst not quite enough to send them down, we would probably be happier with a far more committed performance but it is those errors again that are proving so costly and the usual suspects making them.
Twenty days to the end of the season and it can't come soon enough!