Monday 19 February 2018

Wolves show attacking bite




Wolves hurtled into the new season, propelled by their raucous support and a desire for attack that may lift them higher than last season's 15th-place finish. The first half was a near-rout of possession and dominance for Mick McCarthy's team, with much of the damage wreaked down their left, though it was Stoke who nearly filed the first goal of these teams' campaigns.

Kenwyne Jones, Stoke's record £8m buy, was played in by Ricardo Fuller and, from an angle on the right, a menacing shot crashed off Marcus Hahnemann's bar. Jones, though, was about to exit. A challenge involving Karl Henry, the Wolves skipper, finished with the 25-year-old prone on the Molineux turf and he was replaced by Mamady Sidibe. His manager, Tony Pulis, stated later that Jones had gone for a scan on his ankle.

McCarthy's players swung play wide, hoping to ambush Stoke with the quick ball into the area. After nine minutes, David Jones benefited from the ploy when finishing beyond Thomas Sorensen, who failed to deal with a high ball punted in from the left. But the challenge of Steven Fletcher on Stoke's 'keeper was judged illegal.

Next it was nearly wham-bam, thank you Jelle van Damme when he stormed down Stoke's right and whipped in a delivery that found Fletcher's boot, but the debutant's clumsy contact skied the ball over the bar.

Two goals after the half hour placed Wolves firmly in charge. Kevin Foley was fouled by Dean Whitehead near the area and, from Henry's rolled free-kick, Jones flipped up the ball before belting a volley past Sorensen.

If this was a quality finish Stoke could do nothing about, Pulis would have been furious about his defence's inability to snuff out the 39th-minute attack that ended with Christophe Berra's deflected cross being met by the head of Fletcher before Sorensen or any of his City team-mates.

Wolves walked into the break apparently coasting and emerged into difficulty when Abdoulaye Faye's head pulled a goal back. Yet, when this pell-mell affair ended, there had been no equalising strike for Pulis's team and but for Sorensen's quick hands, Stephen Ward would have had Wolves' third.

McCarthy was pleased to come through with a victory at the end of a week disrupted by international call-ups.

"We worked for six weeks and then we lost 10 of them, so it was a bit of a silly week," he said. "We got a few back Thursday and we were able to do a bit of work. Everyone that's had players away will be delighted to get a win. I was told it was 11 years since we had a win on the first day of the season."

Sunday Independent

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