The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By John Wragg

MO­LINEUX stood and ap­plauded the mem­ory of Gra­ham Tay­lor. He re­vived both Wolves and Aston Villa dur­ing his ca­reer but this game was about who is do­ing the better job these days, Paul Lam­bert or Steve Bruce?

Tay­lor, who died on Thurs­day, re­built Villa, got them pro­mo­tion and re-es­tab­lished the club as a force in English foot­ball.

He at­tempted to do the same at Wolves, get­ting them to the play-offs in his one full sea­son and, sig­nif­i­cantly, set-up the train­ing ground and the phi­los­o­phy that Lam­bert is ben­e­fit­ing from with so many young foot­ballers com­ing through.

What hap­pens now is up to Lam­bert, a for­mer Villa man­ager him­self who en­dured de­bil­i­tat­ing times there, and Bruce, with a nod of thanks to Tay­lor.

Villa’s form has died af­ter the ini­tial big im­pact Bruce made when he took over in Oc­to­ber, with five de­feats in their last nine games, in­clud­ing the FA Cup loss at Spurs.

“My thoughts on that per­for­mance of ours. Not a lot,” said Bruce.

“If that is all we’ve got then it’s go­ing to be a long, dif­fi­cult win­ter. We have to ques­tion our­selves. We have cre­ated very lit­tle in games over the last three or four weeks.

“Yes we have in­juries and play­ers away on in­ter­na­tional duty but we’ve got to have a lit­tle more qual­ity than what we are show­ing at the mo­ment. That sim­ply wasn’t good enough.”

In con­trast Lam­bert has got the Old Golds’ con­fi­dence flow­ing with only two de­feats in Wolves last eight league games and a big FA Cup vic­tory at Stoke, and it showed.

Wolves were ahead in the 15th minute, Joe Ma­son be­com­ing the first of their strik­ers to score a goal since Au­gust 20 when he took ad­van­tage of the Nouha Dicko run that un­did Villa.

Goal­keeper Sam John­stone, mak­ing his league de­but on loan from Manch­ester United, only dived and par­ried Dicko’s shot and Ma­son was able to slot the ball into an empty net.

Even though Villa were poor, Ross McCor­mack should have headed them level 12 min­utes later but put the ball over.

“He should have scored with that. He knows that too, but McCor­mack is go­ing through a tough time,” added Bruce.

Villa got no better and it took James Ch­ester to clear away from the line when Ma­son missed a sec­ond shortly be­fore half-time.

The pat­tern was the same in the sec­ond half, Villa dull and in­ef­fec­tive and liv­ing on the edge of go­ing two down. Helder Costa’s scorch­ing run set-up Dicko with John­stone to beat for Wolves’ sec­ond goal in the 56th minute, but the keeper stood firm and blocked his shot.

That helped 23-year-old John­stone re­deem his ear­lier er­ror, but noth­ing got Villa off the hook

When Dave Ed­wards had to go off be­cause of a cut on his head that needed three stiches the power of Wolves’ per­for­mance faded a lit­tle, but Lam­bert was pleased.

“My team were bril­liant,” said Lam­bert. “There is a bril­liant in­fra­struc­ture here. A good fan base and the sup­port­ers and the play­ers are right to­gether.

“You need that for suc­cess. I didn’t have the plea­sure to meet Gra­ham Tay­lor but I knew about him and lis­tened to what he had to say.

“He put the academy in here with the for­mer owner Sir Jack Hay­ward. It was a bril­liant, fit­ting trib­ute.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Images

GOAL: Joe Ma­son cel­e­brates scor­ing Wolves’ win­ner IN­SET: A flo­ral trib­ute to Gra­ham Tay­lor

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