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Nick Szczepanik's press verdict: Wolves

Writers reflect on Albion's hard-earned point at Molineux on Saturday.

By Nick Szczepanik • 08 March 2020

By Paul Hazlewood
Nick Szczepanik rounds up the media view from Saturday's game.

You can never take anything for granted in football. But Graham Potter’s men avoiding defeat against Wolves at Molineux was perhaps not the most surprising result of the season for Albion fans, most of whom know our record against the team in old gold and black.

But it was a valuable point and most of the national media recognised that, although one or two of those with local loyalties put the emphasis on Wolves missing a chance to move into the top four.

Some, though, even went so far as to praise the Albion performance. Daniel Matthews of the Mail on Sunday, for instance. was most positive, although with reservations.

“For Brighton, another point in the fight to avoid the drop,” he wrote. “For Wolves, another point in this seven-way tussle for Europe.

“And yet, at the end of a match which teetered this way and that, a sense that perhaps two more had slip through both their grasps.

“After another display of promise which yielded little in front of goal, Brighton's destiny remains in their hands. If they play with this authority in possession and solidity in defence, their Premier League future should be secured. Sooner or later, though, they are going to have to find a way to score. 

10:10

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Extended Highlights: Wolves 0 Albion 0

“Brighton remain the only team in England's top four divisions without a win in this calendar year.

“Here, at least, they could toast a second clean sheet in 19 games. At a tough hunting ground, too.

“This is the start of a horrific run of games which will go a long way to determining Brighton's future. They will need more displays like this in coming weeks.”

Graham Hill of the Sun on Sunday reflected most neutrals’ expectations:

“All the pre-match talk was of Wolves moving into Champions League places,” he wrote.

“This was the game where Nuno Espirito Santo’s men would surely show their top four credentials.

“But Brighton had other ideas - and brought the Molineux bandwagon screeching to a halt in a game that never looked like producing a goal.

“It was not so much Nuno as No-no as Wolves struggled to break down a Seagulls side who may still be searching for their first win of 2020, but will treasure this point in their battle to beat the drop.”

02:12

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Potter: We're still fighting

Experienced friend of this column Jon Culley, writing in the Sunday Telegraph, had known what to expect. He wrote: “Perhaps we should have seen this coming. Brighton have never lost to Wolves in a top-flight fixture and Wolves have failed to score against the Seagulls in six of their past eight meetings.

"Yet with Wolves eyeing up a move into the top four in the Premier League, if only temporarily, and Brighton without a win in 2020, it was not an outcome that attracted many predictions.

“It is a fillip for Graham Potter in his attempt to keep his side out of the bottom three. Yet if Wolves fans left the stadium frustrated, with a Europa League last-16 tie against Olympiakos coming up in Greece next Thursday, head coach Nuno Espirito Santo will not count this as a particular setback.”

In contrast, Tumaini Carayol of The Guardian had failed to do his homework and was unaware of Albion’s record against Wolves, but he came up with the best post-match press conference quote, even if he seemed to miss its point.

He wrote: “It seemed that this would present a bad matchup for Brighton. They have set up courageously under Graham Potter, but an in-form Wolves and their ballistic counterattacks have spent this season eating such teams for breakfast.”

“Instead, both sides were a picture of tentativeness early on and there was little to fear for Brighton as they produced one of their more solid performances of the season. The sight of them neutralising a top team and departing with a clean sheet is rare and afterwards Potter asserted his wish that their form will continue through a delightful metaphor:

“’I hope it’s the old ketchup effect, as they say in Sweden. Do you know that one?’ he asked, beaming and then explaining to a confused crowd by mimicking the action of shaking out the remnants of ketchup from a bottle with ample sound effects. ‘Eventually, it just splurts out’.” Hmm. Most people would probably take that as a metaphor the team’s bad luck in front of goal changing rather than continuing.

Paul Rowan of the Sunday Times must have been to last season’s match at Molineux. He wrote: “Wolverhampton Wanderers blew the opportunity to break into the top four for the first time at the business end of the Premier League season when they were held at home by a Brighton side who appear to have gone back to Chris Hughton basics in their efforts to stay in the Premier League.

01:28

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Propper's Wolves reaction

“From a neutral’s point of view, virtually everything that could go wrong did go wrong, as Wolves coming off the rare luxury of no midweek game looked sluggish, while Brighton looked relatively comfortable with the containment policy which Graham Potter has imposed of late.

“They were boiling the hops in the local brewery and as the vapours wafted on the wind it perhaps explained the soporific nature of the contest, for Wolves in particular were guilty of constantly misplacing their passes, continuing into the second half.

“In the 65th minute, Brighton at last created a good chance. Leandro Trossard carried the ball well into the Wolves half and then picked out Sol [sic] March in the box, but his first-time effort was typical of the wayward nature of the game in general.”

“It was Brighton who finished the stronger as they sought their first win of the year, but Yves Bissouma, who was tireless throughout, lacked quality with two long-distance efforts. Brighton never overcommitted men forward and their fans cheered ecstatically at the end with the side having eked out a point.”

Emlyn Begley of the BBC Sport website was one of the few writers who noticed the introduction of new man Ally Mac.

“Attacking midfielder Alexis Mac Allister made his debut in the second half - the Argentina international joined Albion in January 2019 but has spent loan spells with Argentinos Juniors and Boca Juniors.

“The 21-year-old was lively, with several dangerous set-pieces causing concern for Wolves.

“The visitors spent the latter stages pushing for a goal but struggled to create a clear-cut chance.”

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