WOE­FUL WOLVES PUT TO SWORD

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Niall Kelly

WOLVES BOSS Dean Saun­ders be­lieves he needs to bring in play­ers on his wave­length as his side suf­fered back-to­back rel­e­ga­tions.

Two first-half goals from Kazenga LuaLua sealed Saun­ders’ side’s fate as Brighton now turn their at­ten­tion to a play-off semi-fi­nal against Crys­tal Palace.

And Saun­ders now feels the trans­fer mar­ket will be key in the re­build­ing of his club.

“We need to get some play­ers in who think like I’m think­ing,” said Saun­ders. “With fresh minds, who want to win, no dam­age done to them and no con­fi­dence is­sues.

“The odds were against us, but to be hon­est I’ve felt sick since the Burn­ley game. So I had the same feel­ing be­fore the Brighton game. We needed a mi­nor mir­a­cle.

“The game against Brighton summed our sea­son up. We put balls across the face of goal but we didn’t get on the end of any­thing.

“We weren’t good enough in our box and we weren’t good in theirs, it’s been go­ing on for three years.

“We’ve got to move for­ward now. Some­times out of cri­sis comes op­por­tu­nity and we’ve got an op­por­tu­nity now as we’ve hit rock bot­tom.

“We need to change things dras­ti­cally oth­er­wise you go along think­ing ev­ery­thing is al­right. When the whis­tle went I shook ev­ery­one’s hand and I said ‘I’ve just started re­build­ing now’.”

The away side had the first ef­fort of the match three min­utes in, as Bakary Sako’s ef­fort from dis­tance was de­nied by the post.

Mo­ments later, Brighton had grabbed the lead. LuaLua found space for him­self on the edge of the area and su­perbly curled his shot to­wards the bot­tom cor­ner for his fourth league goal of the sea­son.

Wolves slowly edged into the game af­ter con­ced­ing, con­trol­ling the ma­jor­ity of pos­ses­sion in the process.

How­ever they were re­duced to tak­ing pot shots from dis­tance, none of which tested To­masz Kuszczak.

Six min­utes be­fore the break Brighton dou­bled their lead. LuaLua once again found him­self in space around the penalty area, al­low­ing the for­ward to bril­liantly run through the de­fence and slot the ball past Dorus De Vries.

Wolves nearly re­sponded with a goal of their own soon af­ter, but Jamie O’Hara was un­able to tuck home Sako’s well worked free-kick.

The sec­ond half be­gan with Wolves start­ing to come out of their shell a bit more.

Ten min­utes af­ter the break Wolves nearly pulled one back, but Roger John­son failed to head O’Hara’s free kick on tar­get.

With less than ten min­utes to go,Vi­cente Ro­driguez made a great dart­ing run through the mid­field but failed to get his shot on tar­get.

Gus Poyet’s side now face a trip to face Crys­tal Palace at Sel­hurst Park on Fri­day night in the first leg of the play-off semi-fi­nal.

The Brighton boss be­lieves his side are in a great po­si­tion go­ing into the game.

“We can­not get away from the stats, we have the best de­fence in the Cham­pi­onship,” said Poyet.

“Peo­ple that watch this football club and the way we play prob­a­bly didn’t know that.

“It’s an un­be­liev­able achieve­ment be­cause of the way we play, be­cause of how open we are.We take so many risks. If we can main­tain that, we can be a dif­fi­cult team to beat. I hope now we’re in the play-offs I hope we can main­tain that.

“If you think about the form we are prob­a­bly in the best sit­u­a­tion. The teams in the play-offs, apart from Wat­ford, I was ex­pect­ing to be there.

“I will try my best to keep their minds on football, it could be a great match.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

LET­TING FLY: Kazenga LuaLua scores the first goal for Brighton. Inset, Wolves fans show their de­spair

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