Wolverhampton Wanderers’ winless run extended to five games as they were comfortably dispatched by an in-form Preston North End side which has now picked up 17 points in their last eight matches.
Paul Gallagher opened the scoring by dinking the ball over Carl Ikeme, before Adam Reach smashed in a second to double the lead for the visitors.
January signing Joe Mason picked up a consolation for the home side by rounding the keeper to score, but they couldn’t find an equaliser as Simon Grayson’s side held on for victory.
As a result of the win, North End leapfrogged Wolves in the table to rise to 11th, whereas Wolves remain in 12th position.
Preston are now only nine points off of crisis-stricken Derby County, and could make a late surge for the play-offs. However, with Wolves, you just feel that given their current run of form, they will have to face another season in the Championship.
FootballLeagueWorld writer Alex Grove identifies THREE things that we learned from the match at Molineux which saw Simon Grayson’s side extend their unbeaten run to three games…
1) Kenny Jackett doesn’t know where to play Joe Mason
It was a decision that angered many fans before kick-off as January signing Mason was left on the bench for the second successive game.
Manager Kenny Jackett opted to start Bjorn Sigurdarson up front on his own in a 4-5-1 formation, signalling that Jackett wasn’t prepared to put out a team that would go and attack the Preston defence.
With the team one-nil down at half-time, Jackett finally put Mason on to the pitch as a replacement for tricky winger Rajiv Van La Parra.
Mason proved to Jackett why he should be starting as he collected a long ball from Conor Coady and rounded the keeper to give Wolves a lifeline.
Many fans will of course be asking the obvious question about why he wasn’t on from the start, and will be wondering whether or not the game would have turned out differently had he been involved from the off.
Considering the club splashed out £3 million on the player, you would think that he would be a nigh-on certainty in the starting XI barring injury.
Therefore, for Jackett to omit the 24-year-old from his team selection because he doesn’t know his best position is baffling to say the least, and the fans are starting to get on his back.
2) Dark horses for the play-offs?
There are still 15 games of the season to go and therefore 45 points up for grabs.
Preston are only nine points off of the play-offs, and there’s no reason why they can’t mount a push for the top six.
Whilst a lot of the talk about sneaking into the play-offs has surrounded the likes of Sheffield Wednesday, Ipswich Town and Birmingham City, Preston, like Nottingham Forest, have somewhat slipped under the radar.
North End are now level on points with Forest and are definitely a team that the opposition will be looking at with some fear of playing.
Preston have got fifth-placed Sheffield Wednesday at Deepdale in their next game, and a win against them would signal their strong intentions of reaching the top six.
Following that, they’ve got a game against bottom side Charlton Athletic, which surely must be labelled as must-win.
They may have left it too late in the season, but they are definitely an outside bet and worth a punt considering their recent form.
3) Pressure on the Wolves Board and players
On what was a bitterly cold and disappointing afternoon at Molineux, some sections of fans vented their anger towards the director’s box as they criticised how the club was being run.
Owner Steve Morgan has actively been looking to sell the club since September, leaving the club in financial limbo. Chief Executive Jez Moxey has long been a figure of abuse for running too tight a ship at Molineux.
Acquisitions in the January transfer window proved to be uninspiring as many fans were left deflated by the marquee signing of Mason from Cardiff.
At a cost of only £3 million, fans were left bewildered as to where the majority of money from the £10 million sale of Benik Afobe had gone.
The players were also met with boos at the final whistle as they put in a lacklustre performance against a Preston side they would have been hoping to beat on paper.
Wolves’ season is surely over now – they are not good enough to reach the play-offs, but at the same time they aren’t going to be relegated.
However, considering they were one of the favourites for promotion in June, the fans have been left frustrated at the lack of success they have enjoyed this season.
Preston fans… Are you happy with yesterday’s win over Wolves? Do you think you can make a late surge for the play-offs?
Wolves fans… how disappointed were you with yesterday’s result? Who is to blame for Wolves’ recent poor run of form – is it the manager, the players or the board? Let us know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!