Plymouth Argyle 2 Wolverhampton Wanderers 2
It may have been the opening game of a new campaign but it was the same old frustrating story for Wolverhampton Wanderers as they once again failed to secure the victory they undoubtedly deserved.
Last season, it was their inability to score goals that eventually cost them a Championship play-off place. They missed out on a top six spot on goal difference and manager Mick McCarthy has reinforced his striking options dramatically over the summer in an effort to correct that weakness.
His two new strikers, Chris Iwelumo and Sam Vokes, combined superbly to set up teenager Vokes to score a vital equaliser in the 77th minute to ensure Wolves did not return up the M5 without something to show for their efforts.
However, McCarthy will be concerned by the number of chances that went begging and by the poor defending that twice gifted the Pilgrims the lead at a rain-swept Home Park.
“I think we deserved to win it,” McCarthy said. “Their goalkeeper [Graham Stack] has won man of the match, and deservedly so. To be honest, we had a spell where shots hit him on the backside and on the knee, then another hit someone else and we just couldn’t force the ball home.
“In the dressing room, they were all going ‘well done’ and I said ‘hold on, I think we should have won that game’.Let’s not be patting each other on the back.
“There were elements of it which were very good, like the determination to come back from a goal down twice. That side of it was good, but the downside was that we didn’t finish the chances we had and we didn’t defend very well, certainly for the two goals they had. So I am pleased and disappointed at the same time.
“We had this last year when we missed out on the play-offs by two goals yet we played Southampton and should have beaten them, we should have beaten Ipswich and we should have beaten Plymouth by more than one goal because we had all the chances. So I am not going to go all season long going ‘well done lads, nice point.’ No. I want to win the games when we should do.
“I might be whinging about it because I think we have had to work hard for two really good goals but we gifted them a goal in the first half and then we shouldn’t have conceded ome from a corner kick for the second. We shouldn’t have even conceded the corner because we should have cleared it and that has cost us.”
New captain Jody Craddock and debutante Richard Stearman had 90 minutes to forget in defence. The duo looked uncomfortable all afternoon and Craddock was at fault for the opening goal as he was caught out by a ball over the top in the seventh minute, allowing Rory Fallon to lob Wayne Hennessey and put the Pilgrims ahead.
They also failed to clear a straightforward corner ten minutes after the break, which allowed Marcel Seip to put the hosts into the lead for a second time; another centre-half may be top of Mick McCarthy’s shopping list before the transfer window closes at the end of the month.
But there were plenty of positives for McCarthy, especially the performance of winger Michael Kightly. He applied a superb finish to Kevin Foley’s teasing cross in the 19th minute to put Wolves on level terms for the first time and was a constant menace coming in off the right flank.
However, McCarthy is aware that Kightly’s excellent form will once again attract some unwanted attention from Premier League clubs hoping to entice the 22-year-old away from Molineux.
“Kightly isn’t going anywhere because we have ambitions of our own,” McCarthy said. “None of the players are going anywhere.
“People ask if someone came in and made an offer, because players always find out if there has been an offer, would it turn his head?
“He has just signed a new contract here and has committed himself to the club, and there is no chance anyone will be allowed to leave the club because we want to do well. We can only do that with players like Kightly.
“He was superb but he was sat in the dressing room at the end disappointed as hell because we haven’t won it, as was I.”
Scorers: Fallon (7) 1-0; Kightly (19) 1-1; Seip (55) 2-1; Vokes (78) 2-2
PLYMOUTH ARGYLE: Stack, Duguid, Doumbe (Timar 68), Seip, Barker, Clark (Paterson 72), Summerfield (Puncheon 82), Walton, Mackie, Fallon, Easter. Subs: Larrieu, MacLean.
WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS: Hennessey, Foley, Craddock, Stearman, Elokobi, Kightly, Henry, David Jones, Stephen Ward (Jarvis 67), Ebanks-Blake (Vokes 77), Keogh (Iwelumo 67). Subs: Ikeme, Collins.
Referee: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire)
Bookings: Plymouth - Seip, Barker, Fallon (fouls); Kightly, Iwelumo (fouls)