DICKO’S RETURN SPARKS WOLVES
Jackett delight at striker comeback
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.”
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