Stephen Ward has backed his Wolverhampton Wanderers’ team-mate Sylvan Ebanks-Blake to bounce back from the disappointment of missing a late, late penalty which left his side without even a point from the weekend’s derby at Coventry City.
With the match delicately poised 2-1, in Coventry’s favour, Ebanks-Blake won a 93rd-minute reprieve for his side after being muscled out by defender Ben Turner in the box. But despite the fact he has hit the net no fewer than 20 times so far this season, the England Under 21 star blasted the ball straight at Sky Blues’ keeper Keiren Westwood.
Ward admitted the team would have banked on last season’s Championship Golden Boot award winner to slam the ball home but insisted no one in the team blamed Ebanks-Blake for the defeat.
He said: “We thought we’d done everything we could to win it, but it was a bad result. We should have won – I thought we had much the better of the game and they didn’t create much. It was just a bad day for us. As for Sylvan – these things happen. He’s scored 20 goals this season and at least he had the nerve to step up and take it.
“I think the keeper made a good save. It’s only a chance he has missed - there were 89 minutes where we should have won it, it wasn’t just the penalty.”
The Irish defender is one of the few players at Wolverhampton’s Compton training ground this week with a dozen of the squad including youth players away on international duty.
Ward added: “Sylvan’s a massive part of our team and without him, we probably wouldn’t be where we are now.
“These things happen to strikers – missed chances and missed penalties – but he’ll bounce back.
“There are other things we need to improve on rather than concentrate on things like the penalty.”
“The striker he is you wouldn’t bet against him reaching 30 goals this season.
“I’m getting to the stage where I don’t want to tackle him in training, he’s that vital to us!
“He’s been different class this season and I’ve no doubt he’ll get a few more goals for us over the rest of the season.”
Ward eulogised: “He’s one of the best strikers I’ve ever played with – he’s an out and out goalscorer – he wants to score goals and he always will. It was unfortunate for him on Saturday but he’ll bounce back.”
Wolves have now only one won game in eight and, while they are still four points clear at the top of the table, Ward knows many more slip-ups could be disastrous.
“We need to get our heads right now and sort it out.We have got to be ready because we have to get out of this,” he said.
“I don’t think performances have been too bad but we’ve made some costly errors and we have to eradicate those from our game and get back to being a lot more solid.”