Cardiff burnt on Tan’s re­turn

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By An­drew Gwilym

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.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Images

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

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