Last minute Wolves penalty dashes Crawley’s hopes of a point

Match report: Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-1 Crawley Town

Date: 23/08/2013 – Competition: Skybet League One

Griffiths nets an injury-time winner

Differing fortunes
Home side Wolves go into this match on the back of two successive wins. Before beating Gillingham and Bristol City, they were knocked out of the Capital One Cup by League Two side Morecambe, and drew on the opening day against Preston. Crawley’s winning start was cut short just two games into their season when they were knocked out of the Capital One Cup by Cheltenham of League Two. Prior to this they had beaten Coventry on the opening day, but have gone on to draw against Tranmere and lose to Rotherham in the league.
Wolves, who are unbeaten in the league, will be looking to return to the Championship after being relegated last season for the second successive time, and should be able to pick up 3 points here. They are now equipped with experienced manager Kenny Jackett who took Milwall to the FA Cup semi-final last season.
Crawley should not be underestimated seeing as they have had 2 promotions in their last 3 seasons. They achieved their highest ever league position last season, finishing 10th in League One. Manager Richie Barker has been at The Reds’ helm since August 2012, winning 23 of his 58 matches in charge.


  • This is the two sides’ first ever meeting.
  • Wolves have kept 2 clean sheets out of 3 league games this season.
  • Crawley have scored and conceded in each match played this season, scoring 10 and conceding 11.

Prediction: Wolves 1-0 Crawley


Line ups:
Wolves XI (4-4-1-1/4-4-2): Ikeme (gk), Doherty, Batth, Stearman, Ricketts (c), Ismail, Evans, Davis, Sako, Doyle, Sigurdarson
Wolves subs: McCarey (gk), Elokobi, Price, McDonald, Forde, Cassidy, Griffiths
When defending, Wolves’ shape was a 4-4-2. When attacking, they changed to a 4-2-2-2.

Crawley XI (4-5-1/4-4-2): Jones (gk), Sadler, McFadzean, Clarke, Alexander, Drury, Simpson (c), Walsh, Bulman, Adams, Jones
Crawley subs: Maddison (gk), Hurst, Connolly, Essam, Torres, Proctor, Rooney
When defending, Crawley’s shape was a 4-5-1. When attacking, they changed to a 4-4-2.

Battle of the wings as Wolves hold on
Wolves started the game positively, but went back into their shell after taking the lead. Bjorn Sigurdarson came close just 5 minutes into the game when he latched onto Lee Evans’ cross with a mishit volley, forcing a good save out of Crawley ‘keeper Jones. He redeemed himself not long after, though, when he met Kevin Doyle’s cross, nodding the ball past hapless Jones. Sigurdarson had played the ball out wide to Doyle, who then beat Josh Simpson to the byline to cross, only to get his head onto the returning ball.

Crawley had the chance to equalise just a minute after Sigurdarson’s goal, when Sadler’s ball from the right wing fell to Nicky Adams. The quality of finish did not match the quality of cross, though, as Adams scuffed the shot wide. The Reds had another chance to equalise through Joe Walsh this time, fifteen minutes later. A cross from the left-hand side came to Gary Alexander, but the striker’s loose touch meant that Walsh was the man to put the ball away. However, Walsh wasn’t expecting the ball and couldn’t get his touch right, hitting wide of the target. Crawley grew into the game as the first half wore on, pressuring higher up the pitch. Josh Simpson impressive overlapping helped the visitors to muster up a few chances, but Wolves’ men waiting on the wings were equally as good with Zeli Ismail’s technique and Backary Sako’s pace.

Half-time (1-0) notes

  • Kevin Doyle has played well when going into a wide left position.
  • Crawley are finding it hard to deal with Zeli Ismail’s trickery.
  • Backary Sako started well but drifted out of the game after the goal.
  • Bjorn Sigurdarson has been dominant aerially, scoring a header.
  • Wolves have given the ball away far too easily and need to slow the tempo.
  • Josh Simpson has been impressive down the right-hand side, overlapping frequently.
  • Gary Alexander has been poor when receiving the ball in the box, lacking composure.
  • Since conceding, Crawley have kept the ball well in general.
  • Crawley have had chances to draw level, having more shots, and are unlucky not be drawing.

Dramatic injury-time winner seals it for Wolves
Crawley started the second half as they finished the first. Nicky Adams had a trickling long shot saved for a corner a couple of minutes into the second half, and this was a signal of things to come. Despite Crawley’s meaningful start, Wolves nearly scored on the break when skipper Sam Ricketts’ howitzer of a shot from 30 yards was turned over by Paul Jones. Bjorn Sigurdarson should have grabbed his second goal twelve minutes later when he failed to put away Zeli Ismail’s cross. The away side cranked up the pressure with fifteen minutes remaining, having the majority of the ball deep inside Wolves’ half. The Wolves defence had been solid all night, though, and this looked to be the case when they cleared a series of crosses with 5 minutes left.

Crawley just couldn’t score, yet deserved a goal for their hard work and persistence. Adam Rooney, who had replaced Danny Bulman for the visitors, had other ideas. In the 90th minute he received the ball from Adams on the counter-attack and laid the ball off to Billy Clarke who smashed home for The Red Devils. It was a deserved equaliser which typified how Crawley had played throughout the match. They were a constant threat, never letting the home side settle, and continually got into dangerous positions. Smiles were etched on the faces of the Crawley players and management as they thought they had snatched a point.

That was all set to change. Wolves got the ball forward as quickly as possible with McDonald beating his man down the right-hand side. His cross was blocked by the outstretching arm of Crawley defender Kyle McFadzean in the box, the referee awarding a penalty. Initially, the referee didn’t look sure about the incident so consulted his assistant, who confirmed the call for a penalty. Substitute Leigh Griffiths smashed the ball down the middle, making it 2-1 to the home side in the 94th minute. Crawley were devastated, and rightly so. Wolves didn’t deserve all 3 points, but results don’t always match the run of play.

Full-time (2-1) notes

  • Zeli Ismail was a constant threat for Wolves, dribbling successfully and linking with the forwards.
  • Sigurdarson must make more of his chances if he is to keep his place.
  • Wolves defended very well for the majority of the game, particularly in the air.
  • The home side could have killed the game a lot earlier had they took their chances better.
  • Crawley deserved at least a point. They pressured well and were impressive after conceding.
  • Similarly to Wolves, they must take their chances better if they are to make use of their dominance.
  • Nicky Adams’ dribbling was a joy to behold, as was Simpson’s wide play.
  • They must defend better in wide positions to avoid the barrage of crosses that came their way.

Man of the Match: Nicky Adams (Crawley)
Despite being on the losing side, Nicky Adams was very impressive for Crawley. He was at the heart of most of Crawley’s attacks, including the goal. His dribbling and technique allowed him to beat players effortlessly in what was a spirited and energetic performance. He was an example to follow for the visitors with his persistence and high work rate. Zeli Ismail came a close second after showing glimpses of quality, but he failed to make a real impact on the game.

Possession: 50% – 50%
Shots (on target): 11 (5) – 14 (3)
Corners: 9 – 9
Bookings: 2  (Batth, Doyle) – 2 (Adams, Alexander)
Attendance: 17,406
Referee: S Hooper


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