Bolton’s 7 match unbeaten streak ended at Molineux with a rampant Wolverhampton Wanderers firing 5 goals in an emphatic win. Will Buckley scored Bolton’s consolation goal but strikes from Willy Boly, Leo Bonatini, Diogo Jota and 2 from Ivan Cavaleiro won the game for the title contenders.
Wanderers lined up with Mark Beevers coming back into the side after suspension, swapping with Reece Burke who may have felt he had done enough in the previous game against Reading to keep his place. The early exchanges against Wolves were almost a carbon copy of those against the Royals as a similarly misplaced pass between ‘keeper and defender allowed Josh Vela an incredible opportunity to tee up Gary Madine for a 1st minute tap-in. Yet again the keeper, in this case John Ruddy, managed to recover to deny Bolton but it gave an indication that Wanderers had not come to Molineux to roll over and die.
Unfortunately, regardless of the Whites’ intention, Wolves had other ideas and after only 15 minutes they had their opener. A corner was whipped in by Cavaleiro and centre-half, Boly, was left unmarked to power past Ben Alnwick. It was concerning to concede in this manner but had Reading been as clinical earlier in the week they too could have taken advantage of set-piece frailties in the Whites’ backline. This is something that desperately needs addressing and quickly.
This was further highlighted moments later as the same man almost scored again only for Ben Alnwick to block his free header and then miraculously keep out a second attempt, this time from Bonatini. Wanderers did manage to put up some fight and had Ryan Bennett not been standing on the line when the impressive Antonee Robinson found Gary Madine’s head the scores would have been level. As it turned out, Wolves had other plans as Cavaleiro fired a warning shot just wide from distance almost immediately after. Bonatini had been relatively quiet thus far despite having his rebound saved but he wasn’t to be denied and when Jota got through down the left Alnwick decided to rush out to meet him. He was easily beaten to the ball, however, and the Portuguese’s cross was turned in by the Brazilian striker.
It had the air of drubbing at this point and while Wanderers did have one shot through the quiet Sammy Ameobi the half petered out with little to speak about on the pitch. Off the pitch was where the action was taking place, however, as both managers were sent to the stands following a rash challenge by David Wheater which saw the centre-half booked and thus suspended for the following game against Barnsley. It seemed much ado about nothing, as said by Parky in his post-match interview, so let’s hope the FA don’t bestow a fine or ban upon him as they did after the Carlos Carvalhal incident.
In the 2nd period Wolves looked to continue their dominance and should have had a 3rd when Bonatini latched onto a poor touch by Wheater, only to see his shot fly over the bar. It wasn’t long before they did extend their lead, though, as Romain Saiss was brought down by Antonee Robinson in the box and referee Keith Stroud awarded a penalty. It was soft but clumsy and one can see why it was given, though it still didn’t blot the copybook of Robinson who was absolutely superb all game His shining performance certainly promises much for the rest of the season even despite this result. Cavaleiro stepped up and despite Alnwick guessing which way to dive correctly the ball was in the corner before he knew it.
At 3-0 Parky decided to change things around with straight swaps on the wings with both Adam Armstrong and Ameobi being replaced by Will Buckley and Craig Noone. Not much changed however and the game went into a lull where there were more fouls than minutes. Wolves brought off Bonatini and replaced him with another expensive acquisition in Helder Costa and he had a great chance to rub salt in the wounds when found by Cavalerio in the box. After sitting both centre-halves down with fake-shots he shot straight at Alnwick and almost immediately Bolton went up the other end and scored. A long ball found Madine who brought it down expertly and his through ball was slotted under Ruddy by Buckley for his first Wanderers goal.
Sensing the possibility of a fightback, Parky then threw on former Wolves loanee Adam Le Fondre for Darren Pratley but not sooner had he done that Wolves’ 3 goal lead was restored. Cavaleiro bagged his second after a similar run to that of Costa earlier in the half although his finish deceived Alnwick and was hit high into the roof of the net. That goal ended the game as a contest and though Ruddy had to palm away a Buckley header late on he had the nous to see the gaps in our defence and fired a long kick into Bolton territory which was latched onto by Jota. He easily outpaced Beevers and finished past Alnwick who might feel he could have saved it given he got a hand to the shot.
The game ended with a whimper but in reality what can we expect? Wolves are far better than us and will almost certainly be promoted playing the way they did. There are positives to take from the game such as Robinson’s performance and the fact that we do still look like a side more than capable of scoring goals but realistically this was a nothing game and we go again. There’s pressure on us now going into our next 2 matches that, realistically, we have to win. Let’s hope we can do it. COYWM