Graham 23, Allen 35 – Doyle 84, O’Hara 86
Is it too early for a relegation clash? Probably, but both Wolverhampton Wanders and Swansea City had demons they needed to put to rest if their seasons weren’t going to implode at a fatally early stage. Wolves had lost five in a row while their visitors entered the game without a win, indeed without a point on the road in their first season in the Premier League.
Before this match Mick McCarthy, whose Wolves side topped the table after their third game in August, said they needed to go back to basics to stop the losing streak. If they couldn’t do that, he added, maybe he shouldn’t be doing the job.
With six minutes to go it looked like a statement which he might have come to regret or a highly accurate premonition. Then two goals in as many minutes offered him the luxury of a get-out-of-jail-free card.
Swansea had dominated the first half with a perfectly executed game plan; soak up the early pressure, get the crowd to turn on the home side and punish any mistakes. It helped that Wolves looked pedestrian in comparison to the Welsh team’s scintillating brand of football.
The first goals was symptomatic of that when the home defence was caught square by Gower’s, simple 30-yard chip Johnson and into the path of Graham who poked home from the edge of the six-yard box.
The boos started ringing out in the 34th minute and a minute later Swansea hit the net for the second time when Graham turned provider, crossing from the right while in acres of space for Allen to flick home.
2-0 was the score at the break and the boos rang out even louder as it was the seventh game in a row Wolves have failed to score in first half.
Whether a crowd should support a team blindly or is entitled to show their displeasure is open to debate but the Wolves faithful had no problem doing the latter in 68th minute when McCarthy made a double substitution Hammill and Jarvis making way for Guedioura and Milijas.
That his team went on to grab two in the final tem minutes – a close-range effort from Doyle and a screamer from O’Hara – will leave McCarthy will feeling slightly vindicated but, in truth, Wolves didn’t really deserve anything from this game so bad were they for 84 minutes.
However, you can’t deny they didn’t give up and, while the game was, apart from the result, almost a carbon copy of their last home outing against Newcastle, they should be happy with the point.
Likewise, Swansea should be happy with their first point from six away games but they’ll feel that, as against Norwich when they lost despite dominating possession, these were points dropped. Come May Rodgers might look back to this day in the Midlands and realise that it’s never too early for a relegation battle.
Wolves (4-4-2): Hennessey; Stearman, Berra, Johnson, Ward; Jarvis (Milijas 68), Henry, O’Hara, Hammill (Guedioura 68); Doyle, Ebanks-Blake (Vokes 83).
Swansea (4-5-1): Vorm; Rangel, Monk, Williams, Taylor; Dyer (Routledge 83), Allen, Gower (Moras 86), Britton (Orlandi 74), Sinclair; Graham.
Did you know…These teams have only twice before met in the top flight. The last game at Molineux in March 1982, saw Swansea win, and go top.