Volunteers Week: Mel & Grace
Posted: Monday, June 1st 2020
Saturday, December 1st 2012
Previously out of form Wolves produced a first-half lesson to brush aside a well below par City at Ashton Gate.
Goals from Sylvan Ebanks-Blake and Bjorn Sigurdarson either side of a Kevin Doyle brace inflicted a 45-minute horror show on Derek McInnes’ side in front of their own fans.
City did at least stem the tide after the interval, but the damage had long since been done, and hardly tested Carl Ikeme in the Wolves goal until Neil Danns hit a late consolation with a superb 25-yard strike.
Derek McInnes made one change to his side beaten 2-0 by Brighton & Hove Albion in midweek, restoring Ryan Taylor to the starting line-up after the former Rotherham United frontman started the impressive 3-1 victory at Middlesbrough.
Taylor’s inclusion meant Steven Davies dropped to the bench, while Louis Carey and Martyn Woolford missed out altogether with calf and knee injuries respectively.
It would prove to be a first half to remember for Wolves, who should have opened the scoring with the game’s first attack.
Dangerous Frenchman Bakary Sako drilled a low cross across the six-yard box and seemingly on a plate for Ebanks-Blake, only for the former Plymouth Argyle striker to somehow sidefoot the ball wide completely unopposed from close range.
City responded with a ball into the box which was only half-cleared to unlikely scorer Liam Fontaine, who made impressive contact on the volley but could only hook his shot into the grateful arms of Ikeme.
A lengthy stoppage followed with Wolves’ Roger Johnson receiving treatment on the field, but any hope of the delay sparking a slightly sluggish City performance into life was extinguished by the visitors’ opening goal.
Sako’s corner reached Stephen Ward at the back post, whose low shot across goal was turned in by Ebanks-Blake just in front of Tom Heaton, who could not react in time to keep it out.
And four minutes later, Wolves, without a win in nine games coming into the contest, were 2-0 up. Ebanks-Blake this time turned provider, poking a short pass around the corner for Bjorn Sigurdarson to race clear of Joe Bryan and fire a low ball across goal for Doyle to bundle home.
Wolves’ second had the effect of injecting some life into City, though whether this was more to do with Stale Solbakken’s side having something to hold on to and inviting pressure remains open to interpretation.
Either way, the Robins did manage to work the ball into wide areas and get crosses into the box, but in truth Carl Ikeme was a virtual spectator in the Wolves goal.
If Solbakken’s plan was to contain and counter, it paid off in emphatic style four minutes before half-time when Doyle struck in sensational solo fashion.
Picking the ball up inside his own half, the Irishman raced clear of Neil Kilkenny and galloped towards goal.
When Ebanks-Blake made a diagonal run across the back four, Doyle simply continued his dribble into the space vacated by his strike partner and finished smartly with a fine left foot shot across Heaton.
The boos were already ringing out around Ashton Gate, but there was still time for things to get worse for McInnes before the interval, as Ebanks-Blake rolled the ball into the path of Sigurdarson to bury a first-time strike into the net in virtually identical style to Doyle three minutes before.
The City boss responded by introducing Sam Baldock as a second striker at the expense of Kilkenny for the start of the second half, but defensively his side remained worryingly exposed.
Twice in the first five minutes after the break Doyle ran clear in search of his hat-trick. First he left Fontaine in his wake down the City left, but appeared to be caught in two minds as he bore down on goal with Ebanks-Blake in support, and eventually saw Matthew Bates clear his stabbed chip over Heaton from on the goal line.
Then he was fed by a delightful Edwards pass and found himself in an identical position, but this time saw his shot blocked by the legs of Heaton.
It should really have been more than four, but City showed some fight with shots from distance from Marvin Elliott and Danns – the first over the bar, the second comfortably saved.
At the other end, Johnson’s looping header from another Sako corner only stayed out via the face of the crossbar, before a positive burst from Richard Foster into Wolves’ territory was not rewarded by a wayward Baldock finish.
Danns eventually gave the home fans something to cheer when his left-footed drive thundered into the net off the underside of the bar five minutes from time, but the phrase ‘too little too late’ would be an understatement at the end of a forgettable City performance.
Tom Lindsay will retire from professional rugby at the end of his contract, following sixteen years in the game.
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