WOLVES ADD SOME BRAWN TO BRAINS
Jackett’s men get tough to aim high
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