Wolves fought back from a goal down to claim their fifth successive draw against Newcastle United.
Captain Jamal Lascelles scored for the Toon with a bullet header before Ruben Neves equalised 17 minutes from time, also using his head.
The draw sees Wolves stay in 12th place on 34 points.
Wolves came into this game in some of their best form of the season results-wise, with the side unbeaten in their last four and winning three of those. Newcastle were in some of their worst form with 8 defeats in 10, but with performances being hit and miss it was a guess as to which Newcastle and which Wolves would turn up for the game.
The first half began with Wolves very much being forced on to the back foot with little to no forward outlet to relieve pressure off the backline. The defensive line started off with the typical low-block seen in many games this season, and this allowed Newcastle to dictate the tempo of the game.
Allan Saint-Maximin was superb, constantly weaving between Wolves defenders as if they weren’t even there and looked to open them up at every given chance. With Wolves sitting so deep they panicked in possession and struggled to maintain any sustainable time on the ball. Ruben Neves and Joao Moutinho were both very sloppy and constantly lost the ball when Wolves tried to break.
Neves in particular had an off day, as his usual accurate passing from deep was way off the mark and with no support from Moutinho – his mistakes were exacerbated as it allowed Newcastle to create more chances.
The pressure told as early on Miguel Almiron broke through the backline from the wide-right, fortunately for Wolves his effort cannoned off the post. On replays he looked offside but Nelson Semedo was too deep and keeping him onside – a rare glaring mistake from a player who has improved week on week.
The momentum started to turn on 30 minutes when Adama Traore started to see more of the ball on the counterattack and Newcastle dropped off Wolves to contain his threat. The Spaniard was the key in Wolves breaking free from the press and gaining yards up the field.
Newcastle, against the run of play, thought they had taken the lead when Saint-Maximin scored after a brilliant save from Rui Patricio – but he was flagged for offside.
Wolves continued to press with the side able to create overloads in and around the Newcastle penalty area, and it almost paid off as Traore peeled off at the back post from a cross, but his header also struck the post after Martin Dubravka got a touch to it.
Despite the pressure from Wolves they weren’t able to build ahead of steam and the half time whistle came at the wrong time.
In the second half Wolves went back to struggling to really break out, but when they did they were wasteful in possession. Neves was again struggling to find his rhythm and continued firing efforts over the bar as Wolves struggled to break down Newcastle’s defence. Newcastle were also still causing trouble with Saint-Maximin running the show and showing no signs of slowing down.
The pressure told as he switched the play to Ryan Fraser after Wolves struggled to clear the ball, Fraser’s cross was inch-prefect on to the head of Lascelles who fired his header past Patricio six minutes into the second half. The disappointing aspect, yet again, was the passive defensive play on show by the back three as Leander Dendoncker made no effort to challenge the Englishman.
After the goal the game petered out until Saint-Maximin came off injured and Wolves began to find some stability and attacking impetus. Traore again was the catalyst behind every good for Wolves getting up the pith, Pedro Neto didn’t fail to beat Jamaal Lewis but his final product was mixed and he suffered from a sloppiness on the ball at times.
As time began to run out for Wolves they started to throw more men forward, and their persistence paid off as Neto delivered an wonderful ball on to the head of the arriving Neves who flicked his header in from 12 yards to get his fifth goal since the turn of the year.
Wolves piled on the pressure in the last 10 minutes with Fabio Silva coming on for the anonymous Willian Jose, and his energy gave the away side some energy going into the later stages of the match. They almost conceded at their end with little time left when Joelinton saw his shot blocked on the line by a magnificent defensive recovery from Romain Saiss.
They should’ve taken the lead with three minutes to go in added time as Silva found himself free at the back post but his header was brilliantly save by Dubravka and they were denied the three points.
All in all it was a fair result as both sides created chances to win the game, but Wolves will feel this a lost opportunity to close in on a push for a top seven finish.
Man of the Match – Rui Patricio
It is going to have to go to Rui Patricio, I know Adama Traore was superb, but the Portuguese number one made some vital saves and punches when Wolves were under pressure. In particular, his save from Joe Willock, which meant the rebound goal was offside. Seems to have gained his mojo back in recent weeks and has already saved us a number of points.
Who could’ve seen this result coming? This was, in all honesty, a disappointing result. With teams around them dropping points I would’ve hoped the players showed a bit more fight and guile to get forward and take the game to a poor Newcastle side. This is a big chance missed to get into the race for the top 7, but there is still time to reach it. They need to start playing positively more often as when they do they look superb. The question remains why Nuno doesn’t employ that style of play more often when the side has reaped its rewards playing further up the field.