Dean Saunders tonight reflected on a spirited and determined display from Wolves as they came from behind to draw with Blackburn – but admitted he felt they deserved to win.
Saunders’ first game at the helm saw Wolves hit back from a poor run of four successive defeats to play with renewed vigour and purpose, penning Rovers back in the early stages before falling victim to a controversial penalty decision which saw Jordan Rhodes break the deadlock.
But Wolves stuck with it, backed by a passionate home crowd, and after Roger Johnson’s 74th minute headed equaliser looked the more likely team to find a winner, which unfortunately never came.
“The players gave me the effort and the determination – I’ve had a good reaction from them and I thought we deserved to win,” the boss said of his first fixture in charge.
“I think we had enough chances to do that, their keeper made a couple of great saves in the first half and to be fair Carl did too.
“Jordan Rhodes got through and put it around Carl but apart from that we were in charge and had balls flashing across the box.
“It was a dubious penalty but we came back and we haven’t lost the game and I don’t think I could have done any more.
“We’ve gone 1-0 down and that’s always a tester and it’s like what’s going to happen next but we’ve dug in and we looked like we were going to win at the end.
“It was a good point but obviously we have got to win some games.
“Blackburn are a good side and they were in the Premier League last season.
“At the end of the day all I wanted was the effort, determination and spirit in the camp and just to look across and think I can do something with this team.
“I don’t think Blackburn got out of their half in the first 25 minutes and we were totally dominant and penned them in.
“We started great and had a couple of corners in the first couple of minutes and I think we kept it going.
“We played some good football at times and there was some great effort, particularly from our front two.”
That front two included a full debut for Jake Cassidy alongside Kevin Doyle, and the boss was delighted with the workrate of both players.
“Young striker Jake Cassidy has done well today – he worked his socks off and I’m proud of him,” he said.
“I’ve watched him play – he’s young, enthusiastic, fighting for his life and playing in front of the biggest crowd he ever had and he was brilliant, all he needed was a goal.
“I’ve been training with him for three days and he’s a good finisher.
“Kevin Doyle is a worker as well and I thought they were excellent and caused all sorts of problems to their back four just through sheer effort and making good runs.
“Sylvan wasn’t 100 per cent as he had a little bit of a hamstring strain and I didn’t want to lose him fro three or four weeks.
“I put Sylvan in at the end as he’s a goalscorer and I thought the ball might drop to him in the box and we could win the game.
“For Jake sometimes that’s how you got your chance as a young lad and if he’d banged a goal in today he’d have arrived!”
The penalty was the major talking point of a game which featured eight bookings, as Ruben Rochina appeared to run into Bakary Sako’s outstretched leg with the referee turning away only to see his assistant flag for a spot kick.
“I don’t think it’s a penalty,” said Saunders.
“When wingers going back though it can happen as it was a bit reckless.
“But the lad has kicked his legs so I don’t think it’s a penalty.
“The young linesman couldn’t wait to give it, the referee didn’t give it.”
A more productive decision for Wolves came with the second half substitution which saw O’Hara’s first touch, the pinpoint ball into the box which Johnson headed home.
“I told Jamie to do that!” said the boss.
“When he came over I just said go on and stand there, get it and bang it on Roger Johnson’s head and tell him to head it in the net.
“He’s got a Premier League brain hasn’t he and what a ball it was.
“If you look at it again it’s one of those balls which has got a bit of fade on and is just hanging for a time.
“Defenders don’t like that because they want a ball that goes in and they can go 1-2-3 and just time their run and head it.
“But if it’s whipped they can find it hard to move their feet and pick up the flight.
“Roger came in with a brilliant header, back across the keeper, and we deserved that.
“Sometimes you get the substitutions right and sometimes you get it wrong – I’ll take this one.
“I put Sylvan on to get the winner but he let me down - I’ve told him too!”
O’Hara’s late impact was one of a number of positives to take from the 90 minutes, with the spirit and determination of the players another key.
“I think the players just needed guiding to do what they’ve done tonight,” added the boss.
“If you look at the tackles, and the runs they’ve made, and not losing out to headers or second balls it’s the basics.
“There is no secret to football, it’s about good players working hard.
“We’ve got good players and all I’ve got to do is work them hard.
“It’s not the case that they haven’t been doing that, it’s just a case of the detail and pointing them in the right direction.
“I just felt maybe they were a yard short all over the pitch and there was a bit of counter-punching going on.
“It can be difficult to find players who want to run but we have got players in there who want to dig in, head the ball out of the box and tackle and chase.
“And then you’ve got players doing what Sako does which caused them all sorts of problems.
“He’s there running the length of the pitch with the ball.
“I would have bought a ticket and paid to watch Sako tonight if I knew that was going to happen today.
“Some of the flashes of brilliance when he carried the ball up the pitch – he was class.”
It’s been a fairly whirlwind five days for Saunders since arriving on Monday morning, but the comeback at least ensured it finished on a positive note.
“I’ve really enjoyed it and I can’t thank everybody enough,” he said.
“When I walked in the door and saw the people who are running it and working at the club it’s better than I actually thought it was.
“It’s fantastic and everyone has been trying to help me and I am sure we can make the team successful.”