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Boss's Pride In Ten Men Comeback


19:35 10th November 2012

Solbakken reflects on dramatic afternoon

Boss Ståle Solbakken tonight declared he was “proud” of his players after Roger Johnson’s dramatic injury time equaliser saw ten man Wolves snatch a point against Brighton.

Johnson’s first goal for the club came barely two minutes after a hugely controversial decision when referee Scott Mathieson adjudged Stephen Ward to have handled despite the ball inadvertently hitting the Irish international at close quarters.

Stephen Dobbie fired home from the spot to put Brighton in front for the first time after earlier goals from Bakary Sako and Tongo Doumbia had been cancelled out by Craig Mackail-Smith and Will Buckley respectively.

Johnson’s equaliser however rounded off a dramatic contest, in which Wolves played the entire second half with ten men after Karl Henry was dismissed for a challenge on Liam Bridcutt just before the break with the score at 1-1.

Solbakken said:  “I think at 1-0 up we were controlling the game and then we gave the ball away cheaply one minute before half time and they scored.

“And then not long after that there was the red card and so the game had changed.

“They were two stupid things as Sako gave the ball away when we had control of it and Karl made a big mistake.

“I was stood close to it and I think Karl knows that himself and I don’t have to tell him.

“He understands that was a bad challenge.

“But we should be proud of ourselves with what we did in the second half.

“We were 2-1 in front and defended well but they countered on us after a set piece and there was a very bad decision from the referee to make it 3-2.

“We never gave up and had some very good chances at the end and Roger scored and so 3-3 was ok.”

Solbakken was understandably questioned at length about the two big refereeing controversies, believing the official got one right and one wrong.

“Of the two main decisions one is dead right – it was a red card,” said the boss.

“He was spot-on with that one, no problems at all.

“The other one is dead wrong – it is not a penalty.

“I don’t know what he (Ward) can do with his arm.

“His arm was pulled into his body  and the ball hit him at a short distance – maybe two to three metres - and it was a big, big mistake.

“I’m not sure the referee could see it properly and struggle to see how he could point to the spot.

“He is standing there looking at five Brighton players with their arms up.

“He then gives the penalty and I don’t like that because he is taking a chance and I think he must think twice there.

“When there is one minute left I think you have to be 100 per cent sure it is a penalty.

“When we came off I told him he needed to look at the replay and make sure he is 100 per cent sure.

“If it is in the middle of the park you can maybe take it on the feeling but not in the penalty area.

“To get a penalty like that against you in the 89th minute can be a hard one to take and if we’d have lost 3-2 after all the fight and guts the lads showed it would have been difficult to pick them up.

“Many things have gone against us for a few games and also today but luckily we came back.

“The referee did his best but I don’t think it was the best match he has refereed.

“But we all make mistakes in life so I don’t really want to say any more and we have to move on.”

On the plus side the spirit shown by Wolves having been reduced in numbers for the second half was hugely impressive, not least to still come back again in injury time on the back of such an unjust decision.

And the boss hopes it will act as the prelude to returning to the winning trail.

“It is difficult to play with ten men against Brighton because they are a team who are good with the ball,” he said.

“They were good with the ball today and we had to chase a little bit but we managed to create four or five chances in the second half and score two goals which was satisfying.

“We had to defend deep sometimes because they had an extra man but it was good to get the point at the end for morale.

“We were very brave in the second half and it was backs to the wall for long periods against a good side.

“It was deserved that we got the third goal because the referee awarded a penalty which I think was very wrong.

“The lads have shown spirit all the way through this tough spell and now it is international week and we have to prepare for Watford.

“It was good that the stadium was united in the task with the players and the fans.

“It was a very open second half and we both had chances.

“Roger cleared one off the line and then almost scored to make it 3-1 to us before they equalised.

“I wasn’t happy with the counter attacks from them because when you are 10 against 11 you shouldn’t be hit on the counter attack.

“I think it was important to show the fans we are all united after many hard games lately.

“We came back and showed character.

“But we have to pick up more points fast.

“We have had too many draws at home here.

“That pressure is on us or at least on me because as manager I am the leader of the group.”

Solbakken meanwhile was also asked about the moment when he punched the top of the dugout in frustration after Brighton’s first equaliser, his hand actually going through and breaking a section of the Perspex.

“My hand is ok – it could have been worse!” he replied.

“It was the equaliser when I did it.

“I have a good right hook but my left is better – I am a southpaw!”


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