Cardiff burnt on Tan’s return
KENNY Jackett reckons Wolves can achieve automatic promotion after watching them spoil Vincent Tan’s Cardiff return.
Bakary Sako got the only goal of the game to make it four wins from five for the Molineux club and move them to within two points of the Championship playoff places.
But the former Swansea manager is daring to aim even higher as they now lie just eight points off leaders Derby with 12 games to play.
The Wolves boss said: “You can only look at your own form but we have goals and spirit in this team and those are things we can capitalise on.
“Your own performance level is everything and it is still there for us.
“It is possible to go on a run of eight or nine wins out of ten and you have to believe we can do it.
“This run is coming at the right time for us and we want it to continue because it is giving us a very good opportunity.
“This is a big club, as Wolves we are always looking to be up there and we will keep going.”
This may not have been as impressive a performance as the handsome recent victories over Fulham and Rotherham, but the tenacity shown when holding off a late surge from ten-man Cardiff, who had Peter Whittingham sent off in the second half, confirmed Wolves’ promotion credentials.
They led after 26 minutes with their first real attack. Benik Afobe burst away from Craig Noone to find Rajiv van La Parra, and when his cross hit Bruno Manga it fell kindly for Sako to dispatch his 11th goal of the season beyond David Marshall.
Afobe could, and probably, should have made the margin of victory more comfortable but was guilty of spurning two excellent chances.
Marshall made a low stop after Sako had sent the former Arsenal man scurrying towards goal, while he again failed to beat the Scotland goalkeeper when played in by Aron Gunnarsson’s woeful back-pass.
A Cardiff revival appeared unlikely, but the first dismissal of Whittingham’s career, after receiving a needless second booking for a challenge on Matt Doherty, galvanised the hosts.
They laid siege to the Wolves’ goal during the final quarter of an hour with Tomasz Kuszczak ill at ease against the aerial bombardment.
The Pole spilt one delivery against Sean Morrison which was blocked on the line, and another flap would have seen Kenwyne Jones level in stoppage time, were it not for a superb clearing header by the excellent Richard Stearman.
It ensured owner Tan saw the Bluebirds extend their poor home record to one win in eight, but manager Russell Slade claimed the Malaysian had enjoyed his first visit to a game in nine months, and had addressed the players before the match.
“The owner was very pleased and he thought we were unlucky,” said Slade.
“He spoke to the players before the game and I have spoken to him afterwards. He was happy with what he had seen.
“We deserved something from that, but the changing room is a bit down and we will have to do some work picking them up.
“Losing Whitts seemed to galvanise us and we had a couple of clearances which on another day might have gone in.”
WOLF PACK: Cardiff City’s Eoin Doyle is hunted down by Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Richard Stearman (left) and Dominic Iorfa
I’M BACK: Vincent Tan waves to fans