Doherty delivers for Wolves and sends a message to his country
Wolverhampton Wanderers continue to acclimatise to the Premier League with ease. Unbeaten now in six games, this assured display offered more evidence that Nuno Espirito Santo’s side are a solid unit.
Victory was built on the foundations of a sixth clean sheet in seven games and secured by Matt Doherty’s welltaken goal. Having been told by Martin O’Neill he should adopt a more attacking approach for his country than he does for his club, Doherty will hope his incisive run and finish is noted by the Republic of Ireland manager.
Unchanged for an eighth successive game, a Premier League record, Wolves are developing an impressive level of consistency. They were able to withstand periods of Crystal Palace pressure, particularly in the first half, and ensure Roy Hodgson’s side are still to score their first home goal this season.
“The style and shape of the team has been building through time,” said Nuno. “If you play and train with the same team-mates, it becomes easier and more effective. The beginning of everything is the clean sheet. This way you are always closer to winning.”
Hodgson admitted before the game that the pressure caused by his side’s home form was increasing but said that had they made more of their chances, there would be no cause for concern. Certainly there appeared to be no lack of confidence in Palace’s play during the early stages when they dominated.
But they failed to test Rui Patricio, the Wolves goalkeeper, and could have fallen behind had Raul Jimenez shown more composure when presented with a chance midway through the first half that was denied by an excellent save from Wayne Hennessey.
Wolves did take the lead 11 minutes after the restart when Doherty beat Hennessey at the keeper’s near post af- ter exchanging passes with Jimenez. “What others want from Matt, I don’t really care,” said Nuno, perhaps with O’Neill’s comments in mind. “What I want is what Matt has been giving me and his team-mates. Not only on the offensive part but defensive set-pieces.”
The goal brought greater urgency to Palace’s play. Max Meyer drew a fine save from Patricio and the keeper also dealt with Jeff Schlupp’s follow-up.
“I’ve never known fans come to watch football having seen their team play three games at home without seeing a goal, then they have a fourth one, not being frustrated and disappointed by it,” said Hodgson, the Crystal Palace manager. “There is only one way out of the situation and that is to make certain you score goals in the next game.”
Matt finish: Matt Doherty celebrates his goal as Wolves keep up their bright start