3000 fans made the gruelling five-hour trip to the south coast, to see their beloved Wolves both score a football goal and win the football game. Wolves came out victors over a Brighton team, ravaged by injuries, COVID isolations and suspensions. The win came as great relief for fans who hadn’t seen a goal in over 400 minutes of action, with Romain Saiss, the ‘Moroccan Maldini’ coming in clutch for the boys in old gold.
Disappointingly, the in-from Rayan Ait Nouri sustained a groin injury in the warm-up, so Marcal entered the fray, alongside Podence and Trincao due to Raul Jimenez’ suspension. The three in midfield was sacrificed from Saturday’s game in Manchester, to provide more threat up top, with Hwang Hee-Chan spearheading the attack, until the 15th minute after pulling up with a hamstring issue. 30 minutes of some honestly dire football from both sides was to come, with Brighton having a couple of half chances but nothing to worry Sa in the slightest. Wolves were unable to impose their style on the game, lacking strong moments of possession, with no chances on goal to write home about. The back line three were brilliantly stubborn once again, and typically, it was a defender to provide the accomplished finish, finally giving Wolves’ fans something to cheer about. It is widely understood that a key time to score a goal is just before the break, a sucker-punch goal that changes the opposition’s team talks. All that was needed was that one goal, the second half confidence was levels above those seen in the first. The press was re-born, and the pack caught some unsuspecting seagulls truly lacking. Premier League debutant referee: Tony Harrington, had a night to forget with a multitude of technical difficulties, but entertainment was sharply delivered by a keepy-up fest during the hold up, under the noses of the adoring away support.
Rather unfairly, Adama Traore has fallen victim to some harsh criticism this season, regarding the decision making and effort levels produced, Brighton was the night he truly shut the critics up. Neutrals will see zero goal involvements all season and will go to town with the ‘pace merchant’ slander, but true Wolves fans recognise that it could be so different providing the rest of the team had finishing ability. Moreover, Podence provided some much-needed energy going forward, again just missing the golden touch in front of goal. Trincao was anonymous unfortunately, seeming to struggle with the physicality of the Premier League, there’s something there with Francisco though, Wolves are just yet to see it.
Until a shockingly poor corner from Marcal found its way to the magician that is Ruben Neves, the game was severely lacking quality – not a game for the neutral. Neves then clipped a sumptuous pass over the top of Yves Bissouma, taking eight Brighton players out of the game as Romain Saiss calmly places the ball past Sanchez with his weak foot. The second-phase work behind the scenes, conducted by Tony Roberts seems to be paying dividends for Wolves, with the goals against Brighton and Aston Villa acting as perfect case studies. Backs against the wall for the final ten is something us fans have become accustomed to over the past couple of years, last night was different though, Brighton would not find a way through, Lage is working defensive wonders.
Man of the match
Not only for scoring the first goal in five games, but a stellar defensive performance to match, Romain Saiss deserves all the credit coming his way recently. Alongside Coady and Kilman, the back three have made Wolves fans reconsider where the money should be spent in the upcoming transfer windows. Saiss took his goal brilliantly, and I’m convinced there aren’t many better ball strikers at the club than the Moroccan Maldini – being extremely close to a second, rocketing one off the inside of the post. Safe to say, if AFCON goes ahead, we’re going to miss Romain. Give him another year on his deal already.
Despite scoring, it should have been two or three, our finishing still needs a lot of work. One on ones, as I doubt there are many more clubs who have missed more of them than Wolves this season, then chances can be created, the chances just aren’t being converted. Additionally, there were many moments in the first half where too many touches are being taken on the ball before the next pass. Effective link-up play requires quick decision making, to draw the opposition out of their shape, instead, we gave too much time for Brighton in this instance to regain theirs. However, a win’s a win, onto the European champions.
Sam Beeken is part of the Talking Wolves editorial team – you can follow him here