Kenny Jackett tonight paid tribute to his team for “staying in the game” during a difficult first half to pave the way for an improved second period and victory over Sheffield United.
The Blades were the better side during the first 45 minutes, forcing Carl Ikeme into several fine saves, but Wolves improved after the break with man of the match Bakary Sako setting up Leigh Griffiths midway through the half and then firing home a thunderbolt in the final minute of normal time.
With Jackett looking for a more polished first half than that which he saw, he did however highlight the impressive defensive display which provided the foundations for the second half improvement and the 2-0 win.
“We defended very well today, particularly in the first half when Sheffield United gave us a lot of problems,” said the Head Coach.
“Our defending kept us in the game with the back four and the goalkeeper looking a very solid unit for us.
“Then in the second half it was a very good performance, and a dominant one, we stepped it up and improved and the goals came.
“The first was created by Sako and then he produced a great finish to Kevin McDonald’s set up.
“But yes, in the first half we hung in there and kept the scoreline at 0-0 when Sheffield United had the better of it and we didn’t really get going.
“We want to do well and were looking for a better first half performance going forward but defensively it was a very good display up to half time.
“If you can’t play well all the time you have to stay in games and defend and that’s what we did in the first half.
“That kept us in the game and gave us the opportunity to improve in the second half.
“Kevin Doyle also came in and just had a bit more knowledge and understanding of the role and gave us a platform to play off.
“He gave us some experience in the front line and his positioning and talking made a difference.
“And I think it shows the makings of a good side to be able to hang in there when you know you can play better.”
And while understandably the second half spark provided by joint top scorers Sako and Griffiths will secure the headlines, Jackett believes the foundations now being supplied by the defence – consecutive clean sheets and six conceded in nine in the league – will prove equally as important.
“Looking at our goals against column it’s looking good at the moment,” he added.
“If you can keep it under one a game that gives you a good chance of earning points and if my calculations are right we have conceded six from nine games so far.
“That does give us a chance and a platform to regularly get points and has made a big contribution to where we are in the league at the moment.
“We didn’t do badly defensively today – we did very well defensively and that’s 50 per cent of it.
“Generally the 50 per cent of what supporters look at is what’s going forward but one gives you the platform for another and that’s what happened today.
“We feel there is still a lot of improvement to come and we’re going to need that because the top part of the league has set off at a very good pace.”
Jackett also acknowledged the role of the crowd in helping Wolves to victory, shrugging off any first half nerves to get right behind the team after the break.
And while the manner of the two goals was vastly different, Griffiths enjoying some fortune from a rebound after excellent control followed by Sako’s unstoppable piledriver, they all count!
“You do get good fortune off goalscorers and off good players,” Jackett said of the opener.
“Leigh is always a threat even if he is quiet in a game.
“He got himself in a very good position to get his goal and also then set up Dave Edwards for a header which was disallowed but looked a very close call.
“And it was an excellent strike from Sako.
“We are very pleased with his contribution today which was crucial because he made one goal and scored another.
“He had a good second half and it was a rocket of a shot which sealed the game for us.”
There was also praise from Jackett for Jack Price, who made his first league start in midfield and formed a good alliance with Kevin McDonald to underpin the second half improvement.
“We tinkered slightly with the midfield because it hasn’t quite been right for us,” he added.
“I thought Price had a fantastic debut for us and was our best player.
“As debuts go that was right up there.
“He seemed to be one step ahead in his play and was a real positive for us today.”