Jack­ett’s men get tough to aim high

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Dan Gil­lott

WOLVES won when oth­ers wilted over the Christ­mas pe­riod – and ac­cord­ing to boss Kenny Jack­ett, his side com­bined brains with some new-found brawn to do it.

Wolves are poised for a New Year’s push into the play-offs af­ter three wins on the spin put paid to a mis­er­able run of form that brought one vic­tory in eight games.

In Brighton, they weath­ered an early Seag­ulls storm be­fore Wolver­hamp­ton-born Con­nor Gold­son turned into his own net af­ter de­flect­ing a Jor­dan Gra­ham cross.

In con­trast Brighton are in dan­ger of sink­ing with­out trace as far as the au­to­matic pro­mo­tion spots are con­cerned – fol­low­ing a 21-game un­beaten start, Chris Hughton’s troops have gone six games with­out a win.

And they were just about out­mus­cled by a phys­i­cal Wolves side as Jack­ett’s best-laid plans came to fruition.

“It’s cer­tainly a start for us af­ter a very dif­fi­cult couple of games where you could see the con­fi­dence drain­ing out of the team, cer­tainly on the ball,” said Jack­ett.

“We needed to really con­cen­trate off the ball.We needed to be phys­i­cally stronger, more pow­er­ful to cope with the di­vi­sion, more or­gan­ised and make it more dif­fi­cult for the op­po­si­tion.

“Do we need to build on that to be a good side? Yes we do. We need to work as a club to close that gap, and that is our as­pi­ra­tion.

“There’s a lot of char­ac­ter in the dress­ing room, ef­fort, ap­pli­ca­tion and will to play for the club.You need that and qual­ity to be a suc­cess­ful side.

“They’ve shown that in abun­dance in the past week. We want to build on what we’ve done, we don’t want to stand still.”

Wolves used the same start­ing XI for the third time in six days, but if the play­ers were feel­ing the strain then there was no ev­i­dence of that at the Amex.

On-loan Manch­ester United striker James Wil­son, the sub­ject of much amuse­ment on so­cial me­dia af­ter he was filmed vom­it­ing ahead of kick-off, nonethe­less pro­vided the early im­pe­tus for Brighton. But the im­pres­sive Ethan Ebanks-Lan­dell put in a last-ditch tackle and then blocked a shot to keep Wil­son at bay early on.

Wil­son forced Wolves keeper Carl Ikeme to tip over on the halfhour, be­fore the tide – and a slice of luck – turned in the visi­tors’ favour, as Gold­son turned Gra­ham’s near­post cross past keeper David Stock­dale.

An in­jury-hit Brighton could not muster a re­sponse in the first half. In­stead Karl Henry came close to dou­bling the lead when his shot was saved by Stock­dale.

The Seag­ulls came out af­ter the break rein­vig­o­rated but Wil­son and Lewis Dunk could not con­vert the best op­por­tu­ni­ties of a spell where Wolves, for the most part, held firm.

The trav­el­ling sup­port had their hearts in their mouths when Bruno smashed a long-range ef­fort onto the cross­bar in the 67th minute, yet Ebanks-Lan­dell and com­pany were not go­ing to let any­thing past.

Brighton boss Chris Hughton ad­mit­ted: “James was the most likely to get a goal with the type of game it was.

“He hasn’t been well with a cold and it is a com­bi­na­tion of that and the vol­ume of games that he’s been in­volved in (which is why he was ill). He’s come from be­ing a squad player at Manch­ester United.

“We need to find a way to get goals. De­fen­sive er­rors have given teams a head start in the last two games and they’ve gone on to pro­tect a lead. At the minute things are not go­ing our way, whereas ear­lier in the sea­son they were.”

GOLDEN GRA­HAM: Wolves’ Jor­dan Gra­ham (sec­ond left) cel­e­brates Con­nor Gold­son’s own goal

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