Carl Ikeme today acknowledged a more solid-looking Wolves so far this season – but isn’t getting carried away.
And the in-form keeper, at the back of a Wolves team which currently has the best defensive record in Sky Bet League One, insists the efforts to become more watertight have not taken anything away from the need to attack and push forward at the other end.
Although losing on penalties, last week’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy exit to Notts County came after Wolves’ fourth successive clean sheet, and they have conceded only six goals in the first ten league games.
“Trying to be more solid is something we have been working on a lot,” says Ikeme.
“I’m not saying it’s something we look it massively as it’s about all the team play but the goalkeepers and lads at the back do take a lot of pride in keeping things tight at the back.
“I think we’ve seen already this season with some of the last ditch challenges that have gone in that everyone just wants to keep the ball out of the net and have got a massive desire to try and do that.
“On the other hand we want to win games and we know we have got to open up sometimes to go out and get three points.
“That is something the gaffer has spoken about – trying to have a solid base and keep a clean sheet but at the same time not for that to influence the way we play in terms of being defensively-minded.
“It’s important to be solid and compact but not instead of our overall attacking play and sometimes you do have to be more open and spread forward to try and win a game.
“We’ve got a lot of firepower up front and on the wings who we need to be involved in games for us to win them.
“If we can keep the score down at our end then we’ve always got a chance with the likes of Griff, Doyler and all the strikers and Sako and the wide players as well.”
As Wolves prepare to return to Molineux on Saturday to face Coventry, they will be keen to improve from the display last time out against Notts County when a goalless draw preceded the penalties exit.
“We will want to put on a better performance than in the Notts County game,” added Ikeme.
“In the first half we didn’t play great and in the second got going a bit without really threatening too much.
“Obviously it finished as a 0-0 draw but we’d have wanted to try and win it in normal time and were disappointed to go out on penalties.
“It is always nice to keep a clean sheet but ultimately you want to win the game and that is the most important thing.
“Myself and the defence do have a lot of pride in clean sheets so we were happy in that respect but it doesn’t mean much if you don’t win and go out of a cup competition.”
Indeed in terms of following a lead it will be hoped that Wolves instead reproduce the form of the last league performance, the excellent 3-0 win at Colchester 11 days ago.
A level of that desire to keep a clean sheet and produce a complete performance was illustrated by the reaction of Ikeme, his Wolves team-mates and indeed all the travelling fans when he saved Freddie Sears’ late penalty.
Ikeme adds: “It was one of those really – a bit of a mad moment from me celebrating when I saved it!
“I am passionate about keeping clean sheets although I was cringeing a bit when I saw it on the replays!
“It does show what it meant to all of us that even at 3-0 up with a few minutes to go we really wanted a clean sheet.
“That makes it feel like a perfect game for us.
“For a goalkeeper it’s probably the closest feeling you get to actually scoring a goal and I think the fans felt the same as me with the celebrations.
“I’ve had stick in the past for not saving enough penalties so maybe there was a bit of that in there as well!”