Wolves 1-1 Burnley: Fan's Match Report
As the famous saying goes, ‘It’s not over ‘til the fat lady sings,’ and in Wolves’ case, the fight was still present up to the final whistle. The fans that dispersed from the ground during the seven minutes of stoppage time may have thought otherwise, but a composed penalty from Raul Jimenez cancelled out a superb half-volley from Ashley Barnes in the 13th minute, resulting in a third consecutive draw in the opening three games for Nuno’s side, the second time the club has ever done that in their history.
Nuno made two changes following his side’s 3-2 victory in Turin, with Morgan Gibbs-White coming in for Leander Dendoncker and Matt Doherty coming in for Adama Traore.
Patricio; Bennett, Coady, Boly; Doherty, Neves, Moutinho, Jonny, Gibbs-White; Jimenez, Jota (3-5-2).
Sean Dyche remained with his go-to lineup, making no changes to his side, with a win and a loss vs Southampton and Arsenal so far this campaign.
Pope; Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Pieters; Gudmonsson, Cork, Westwood, McNeil; Barnes, Wood (4-4-2).
The glaring sun and unbearable temperature is something the Wolves fans aren’t typically used to in the black country, but with their team unbeaten at the Golden Palace since January, the expectations are set high for this encounter – as a comfortable victory was depicted this time last year when the Clarets came to town.
The signal for the start of the game was indicated by a loud blast of the whistle by Craig Pawson, with the glistening golden shirts attacking away from the animated South Bank support.
An early chance came in favour of the away side, with a snap-shot from their talisman, Ashely Barnes, from just outside the box. Some good combination play between the trio of Lowton, Wood and Barnes, with the Austrian eventually lining up a shot and just missing from 20 yards out, with a powerful strike to the right of Patricio.
The flurry of action soon followed with a deserved goal for the away team, with Barnes latching onto a loose ball from outside the area and striking the ball into the inside netting of the goal, leaving Patricio with no chance as the forward performs his go-to celebration in-front of the South Bank. A long pass by Westwood tried to find the run of Chris Wood, but a poor recovery header from Bennett meant that the ball fell into the path of Dwight McNeil, whose headed pass was set up for Ashely Barnes to strike. A sweetly struck half-volley on his favoured right-foot sent the ball flying out of Patricio’s reach, giving the Clarets a much deserved advantage on the 13th minute.
Another chance for Burnley popped up for minutes later, with Ben Mee’s effort hitting the crossbar after Dwight McNeil’s delivery found the towering centre-half just seven yards from goal. A rebound off Ryan Bennett fortunately kept the ball out, but the goal-mouth scramble a couple yards from goal meant that no one could see clearly enough to tell whether the ball had crossed the line or not. The Burnley fans were cheering on the other side of the stadium, indicating that they thought the ball had crossed the line, but all eyes were on the ref as he gave no signal’s to suggest so. Patricio then safely gathered the ball in two arms, much to the relief of the 30,000 Wolves fans around the stadium.
The final chance of the half came to the feet of Chris Wood on the 30th minute, with an excellent reflex save by Portugal’s No.1 to deny the New Zealand international. Some good strength from the forward to get past Ryan Bennett, and a delicate touch round the corner gave Conor Coady no chance of recovering in the split-second. The opportunity to double his team’s advantage opened up to the striker, but a remarkable save by Rui Patricio prevented him from doing so.
A response was desperately needed from Nuno’s side in the second period if they were to get anything worth noting from this tie.
The real opening chance came through Raul Jimenez in the final moments of play, with a superb effort on the turn, but to Burnley’s relief this time round, the forward’s attempt hit the face of the post and was cleared to safety. A tenacious long-throw into the danger area by Ryan Bennett was poorly cleared by the head of Ben Mee. The ball then fell to the feet of our No.9, with an exquisite touch to set himself and a half-volley on the turn to go as far as hitting the woodwork, with sighs of annoyance and further frustration echoed around the Golden Palace.
With patience, persistence and perseverance, the opener soon came in the form of a penalty, with the use of VAR to back-up the referee’s initial decision when he pointed straight to the spot. Another use of the Ryan Bennett long-throw technique (which hasn’t really come off in the past) found the head of another Burnley defender, but Ruben Neves’ mistimed strike was heading straight into Raul Jimenez’s direction, with some smart play by the forward to earn his side a penalty kick, after Erik Pieters’ clumsy foul rightfully led to this verdict. The atmosphere then intensified, with the boards both displaying ‘Checking Penalty,’ until the agreement was mutual to the relief of the players, staff and fans. The Mexican sensation then stepped up from 12-yards and slotted the ball past Nick Pope, as he didn’t take his eyes of the keeper, sending the penalty in the opposite direction to where the Englishman dived. It can safely be said that the ‘Get Out of Jail Card’ was played in this stalemate, despite this game being extremely tough throughout the 90 minutes.
Wolves now move onto Torino in the final round of Europa League Qualifying, with Everton due to be played on the Sunday of this week.
Cameron is a Wolves fan and Talking Wolves writer. You can follow him here.
Image: Darren Staples