Benik has Wolves chasing pack
WOLVES may be outsiders for a second consecutive promotion but when they have Benik Afobe in their side, anything is possible.
The 22-year-old signed from Arsenal in January for £2m and his ninth goal for Wanderers, and 28th this campaign in total, may just be one of his best yet.
He netted just 28 seconds into the second half after running from the halfway line while a Bakary Sako penalty 18 minutes from the end secured a third straight three points for Kenny Jackett’s side.
“The key goal in a tight game is always the first goal,” said Jackett, whose only annoyance was conceding to Dexter Blackstock with virtually the last touch of the contest. “Benik picked it up in a really good area and released it at the right time.
“He has sparked off and helped us. He plays well as an individual and brought a lot of others into play as well. He’s added an extra dimension.
“He’s looked a really good player, he’s a good team member as well. It was a great win, fantastic. Forest came out with a real good tempo with the crowd right behind them. We defended well in that period and then came into the game.
“I’m happy the players were disappointed not to keep a clean sheet. It was a real team effort and a big win because Forest are a good side.”
For Jackett this was a 50th win in just 86 league matches and he looks the man capable of lifting Wolves back into the top flight, if not this term then next.
Wanderers, though, had to weather an early storm from Forest.
Michael Antonio came close to exposing a hesitant Carl Ikeme, back in goal after injury, while Chuba Akpom, on his debut on loan from Arsenal, appeared to be bundled over by Danny Batth.
Ikeme then did well to keep out Michael Mancienne’s long-ranger but Wolves grew in stature and could have been ahead before the break.
Afobe’s shot was superbly saved by Karl Darlow and then Eric Lichaj cleared off the line from Nouha Dicko’s follow-up.
The game’s defining moment arrived less than a minute into the second half with Afobe doing the damage, firing home a low shot after a superb run.
Then, a ridiculously poor challenge by Henri Lansbury, the Forest captain, handed Wolves number two on a plate as he fouled Sako. And the Mali winger confidently and comfortably beat Darlow from the spot.
Blackstock at least finished well after Jamie Paterson’s effort had been blocked in the penalty area but now is the time for Forest to plan for next season.
“Wolves were a very well organised, professional team,” said Forest boss Dougie Freedman. “That was the reason they won. We had our opportunities, we were excellent in the first half.
“If you don’t take opportunities, you are going to pay a price.
“It’s not rocket science this division – the difference was they have a guy scoring goals. It’s difficult to take but we kept on going. It is my job to produce a committed side and we showed good spirit.
“As long as we’re creating the chances I can’t be too disappointed. I think the fans will be proud of us.
“It was a very finely balanced match but we just came up a little bit short.”
BAK IN THE RACE: Wolves are now level on points with fellow play-off chasers Ipswich and Derby after Bakary Sako’s decisive penalty
DELIGHT: Afobe celebrates