Jack­ett de­light at striker come­back

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Michael Beard­more

NOUHA Dicko’s re­turn from in­jury and Bakary Sako’s re­turn to form can re­sus­ci­tate Wolves’ play-off hopes, be­lieves boss Kenny Jack­ett after they res­cued a point against strug­gling ten-man Brighton.

Wan­der­ers’ re­cent slide down the Cham­pi­onship ta­ble has co­in­cided with Dicko’s ham­string in­jury while his Mali in­ter­na­tional team­mate Sako has been be­low­par with­out his pal.

How­ever, half-time sub Dicko – con­tro­ver­sially booked for div­ing by ref­eree Dar­ren Bond after ini­tially be­ing given a penalty – and Sako ran the Seag­ulls ragged for long pe­ri­ods.

Wolves’ pres­sure was even­tu­ally re­warded when skip­per Danny Batth’s late strike can­celled out Dar­ren Bent’s early opener for Brighton – but it was the Dicko-Sako combo that pleased Jack­ett.

He said: “Sako has been a big player for us – the bet­ter the op­tions in the team are around him, the bet­ter he’ll be.

“Cer­tainly get­ting Dicko back, they do com­bine very well and one can spark off the other – when they are to­gether there is a good chem­istry there go­ing for­ward and they can both cre­ate and score goals.

“We are in a good po­si­tion. Are we good enough right now to make that gap to the play-offs up? No, we need to im­prove to be able to do that but play­ers like Dicko com­ing back from in­jury will help.”

Brighton, mean­while, are hop­ing to ex­tend Bent’s loan from As­ton Villa after his sec­ond goal in four games – but boss Sami Hyypia re­vealed he had yet to speak to player or club about it.

“At the mo­ment I don’t know but of course I would like to keep that kind of goalscorer un­til the end of the sea­son but I don’t know if it is pos­si­ble,” said un­der-pres­sure Hyypia.

“I haven’t asked Dar­ren his opin­ion yet – we will speak next week. It is very im­por­tant for any team to have somebody to put the ball in the back of the net.”

Bent did just that ten min­utes in, show­ing his preda­tory in­stinct to head home Inigo Calderon’s cross – but the Seag­ulls of­fered lit­tle as an at­tack­ing threat after that.

Wolves be­gan to im­prove just be­fore the break and Sako should have lev­elled from ten yards but fired a first-time half-vol­ley straight at Brighton keeper David Stock­dale.

Two mes­meris­ing drib­bles then ended with Sako hit­ting the out­side of the post and forc­ing another save from Stock­dale.

Dicko was in­tro­duced from the bench for the sec­ond half and, five min­utes in, fell un­der pres­sure from Stock­dale after in­ter­cept­ing Joe Ben­nett’s weak back­pass.

Ref­eree Bond at first pointed to the spot but, after con­sult­ing with his as­sis­tant, he changed his mind and in­stead booked Dicko for div­ing.

Jack­ett was in­censed by the decision and also had sym­pa­thy for Brighton when Bruno Sal­tor saw red for a two-footed tackle min­utes later.

The Wolves boss added: “The goal­keeper caught Dicko. There wasn’t much con­tact but there was con­tact. To book him for div­ing was harsh.

“Look­ing at their send­ing off, Sal­tor was un­lucky. He played the ball first but the follow through was deemed over-ag­gres­sive.”

Dicko spurned two chances to make the one-man ad­van­tage count as he was foiled by Stock­dale’s legs just mo­ments after sky­ing the loose ball when the keeper spilled a Sako shot.

But just as Brighton seemed set to hold out, Batth pounced to force a cor­ner and keep the vis­i­tors – now with one win in 18 – in the bot­tom three.

Hyypia added: “I thought that we played well and I feel sorry for the play­ers.”

PIC­TURES: Me­dia Im­age Ltd

PHEW: Wolves de­fender Danny Batth cel­e­brates his late equaliser with team-mates

RIGHT PLACE, RIGHT TIME: Brighton for­ward Dar­ren Bent heads home the open­ing goal

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