Wolverhampton Wanderers 4 Sheffield Wednesday 1
Gone is Wolverhampton Wanderers’ reputation for scoring few goals and conceding in even sparser numbers.
By discovering an attacking potency that particularly deserted them for the first five months of 2007-08, they are smoothing over the worry that they look almost as capable of conceding at one end as score at the other.
Already, the TV schedulers must be cursing their decision to omit them from the late-summer ‘live’ list because entertainment ratings at Molineux have soared along with optimism levels.
Their two Championship games have so far produced nine goals – a figure bettered only by Sheffield Wednesday, who played their part for 45 minutes in this flowing contest before developing a soft centre that was all the encouragement Mick McCarthy’s side needed.
Throw into the mix the fact Wolves won 3-2 in the Carling Cup in between against no greater a force than Accrington Stanley and you see that it’s just as well goals are cascading in for them.
Chris Iwelumo’s £400,000 move from Charlton Athletic already appears to be as inspired as the higher-priced swoop for Sylvan Ebanks-Blake last January. The taller, older and more travelled half of this potentially destructive double act followed up his brace of midweek headers by guiding Kevin Foley’s cross in beautifully with the same part of his anatomy to restore parity following Etienne Esajas’ sweet early strike.
‘The striker I’ve been seeking for two seasons’ was how McCarthy described the man who then gave Wolves breathing space with a tap-in only five minutes after Ebanks-Blake’s penalty had established the lead early in the second half.
“I’ve been brought here to be a complete nuisance,” Iwelumo said. “I’m here to score goals and long may it continue. I don’t tell people my target but, when I reach it, I’ll be shouting from the rooftops.”
Iwelumo’s aerial menace and general willingness give Wolves a dimension they have been lacking and, with Michael Kightly and Matt Jarvis fit and flying on the wings, the supply line is in place.
Jarvis’ bustle won a gift penalty via Sean McAllister’s clumsy challenge, then Kightly’s brilliant dash and shot against the post set up the killer third for Iwelumo, who was inches away from completing his hat-trick from Jarvis’ cross-shot before sub David Edwards’ late flourish.
You certainly wouldn’t want to see Wolves’ defence trying to cope with this Wolves attack, especially after skipper Jody Craddock departed with an injured foot.
Even against opponents as modest as Plymouth Argyle and Accrington, they were too easily plundered and a Wednesday side shorn before the match of injured in-form strikers Marcus Tudgay and Akpo Sodje troubled them considerably, too.
Or at least they did in the half that the speedy Esajas played before he also succumbed, to a hamstring problem. Former Wolves striker Leon Clarke took his place and, for all the baiting he received from the South Bank and for the charity with which his side ultimately conceded goals, he must have wondered whether his first return to Molineux was worth the bother.
Scorers: Esajas (15) 0-1; Iwelumo (28) 1-1; Ebanks-Blake (pen, 54) 2-1; Iwelumo (578) 3-1; Edwards (90) 4-1.
Wolverhampton Wanderers (4-4-2): Hennessey; Foley, Stearman, Craddock (Collins, 7), Elokobi; Kightly (Edwards, 85), Henry, Jones, Jarvis (Keogh, 74); Iwelumo, Ebanks-Blake. Substitutes: Vokes, Ikeme (gk).
Sheffield Wednesday (4-5-1): Grant; Hinds, Wood, Beevers, Spurr; Esajas (Clarke, HT), Watson (Smith, 67), McAllister, O’Connor, Johnson (Boden, 70); Burton. Substitutes: Gilbert, O’Donnell (gk).
Referee: M J Jones (Chester).
Booking: Wolves: – Jones.