On a saturated evening that was supposed to provide one final crumb of sustenance from an increasingly mouldy season, Wolves trudged through the puddles to earn a draw against the old enemy.
It wasn’t catwalk football. Many of the players may have viewed it as “just another game”. The lack of fans did not help get the blood pumping as was required for such an occasion. But between the dark grey clouds circling above The Hawthorns there grew some green shoots of light.
Young legs, fresh ideas, neat combination play; something for viewers at home to cling on to. After last week’s 4-0 loss to Burnley it was the marked improvement so badly needed.
Early on the ever-industrious Fabio Silva looked particularly isolated as he hustled and bustled against the physical powerhouses of the Albion defence.
Straight after his goal we tweeted: “Made up for Silva. Not stopped trying all half. Throughout the season every opportunity he’s had, every criticism and missed chance, never let his head drop.”
It was a glorious scuff but nobody cared. From 45-yard volleys to a five-yard tap in they all count the same.
Otasowie improved as the game went on
Once again played in a disjointed role, Owen Otasowie stuttered and stammered in a poor start. An early string of misplaced passes likely occurred from Owen misjudging the weight of the rain on the turf. Noted by the commentators as being a model, Otasowie looked like a model playing a footballer in a TV drama.
After a laboured first 45, the second half at least brought more promising intent from the young American. Driving forward with the ball at his feet, there were raw glimpses of the 20-year-old’s potential.
Talking of potential, both Ait-Nouri and Vitinha excelled. As Wolves grew into the game Nelson Semedo’s wait for a goal nearly ended on the half hour mark. Vitinha’s forward movement and propensity to run with the ball caused issues for the hosts.
As the home side gently raised the temperature Rui Patricio earned his corn with a smart save from Conor Gallagher. Wolves retreated. Semedo went wandering. Matt Phillips found more joy down the left.
Albion’s single moment of hope arrived when Roman Saiss pulled his increasingly regular trick of falling asleep at the wheel. The Moroccan managed to fluff his lines in front of goal yet also go missing in his own box when it really mattered.
Once Otasowie and Vitinha had the stabilisers taken off, both looked threatening. After his previously mentioned ropy start Otasowie grew into the game. Vitinha’s contribution held great promise and increased the likelihood of his fee being triggered.
Mike Dean’s introduction at half time stifled the flow of the game. The whistle-happy veteran is more effective than any midfield enforcer at stopping free-flowing counter attacks.
How to deal with a problem like Podence?
While clearly not match fit, Daniel Podence is also a discussion point. The sprightly magician is well balanced, fast and skilled but has yet to find consistency. How many games since his arrival has Podence held great influence over?
Perhaps the diminutive Portuguese is becoming a luxury the squad can ill afford. However, shipping him out (if indeed a buyer could be found) would be a heavy-handed decision at this point.
Podence was introduced to help ease the defensive burden and get Wolves functioning higher up the pitch. Playing under pressure in the second half was expected given the fact that the home side were fighting for their Premier League lives. Wolves weathered the metaphorical storm before the actual storm descended and the game floated towards its conclusion.
Described as biblical by the commentary team, the weather was more farcical as the ball skidded across the turf one minute before dragging across the sodden grass like a boulder the next.
Injury aside there can be no reason to leave Vitinha out of the remaining fixtures. Another fleet-footed slickster, Morgan Gibbs-White, made a positive impact with his driving runs and penchant for a slide tackle.
The youngsters offered a vibrancy of movement. A willingness to pull the head up, run with the ball or pick the forward thinking through pass rather than the gloopy sidewards offerings of the old guard.
Is there any solace in relegating the old enemy? Possibly, but without a band of several thousand away fans goading and jeering their counterparts it was all pretty tame stuff. Pushing West Brom closer to the trap door, not quite kicking and screaming, is small consolation for not getting the win.
Monday was a chance for a glimpse at the possibilities of our next generation. Badgered into a line-up change, Nuno offered the spotlight to some fresh faces and they at least made a case for another shot.
Even though Wolves’ third season has been a difficult experience on so many levels, the best teams and the best players will once again grace Molineux after the summer reshuffle.
With four points out of six, across two fixtures, West Brom won the battle. But the men in Gold and Black won the war. Perhaps we’ll meet them again sometime?
Steve Wellings is part of the Talking Wolves editorial team – you can follow him on Twitter here