Wolves 1-0 Ipswich Town: Cavaleiro strike downs Blues as leaders flex their muscles
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Ipswich Town were beaten but far from disgraced as Ivan Cavaleiro sproved the difference as the Blues fell to defeat at big-spending Championship leaders, Wolves.
The Portugal international profited from a fizzed ball across the box after Myles Kenlock was out-muscled by Atletico Madrid loanee Diogo Jota, with Cavaleiro working his way back across the edge of the penalty with a good first touch before firing past Bartosz Bialkowski.
The Blues appealed for a foul on left-back Kenlock, but nothing was given on an afternoon where the Blues were regularly stretched by Wolves’ quick, one-touch, football without Bialkowski ever forced into serious action. While the Blues defended well, John Ruddy was never called upon in the Wolves goal and there was always a sense the hosts had further gears to find.
The defeat ends Ipswich manager Mick McCarthy’s unbeaten run against his former club, which stood at seven games prior to this contest, with the result moving Wolves seven points clear at the top and leaving Ipswich 10th at the halfway point of the season.
With the Ipswich squad already thin on the ground, there was another blow before kick-off with Jonas Knudsen ruled out through illness, leaving Kenlock to take his place. Kevin Bru deputised for the injured Cole Skuse in the only other change to the side which beat Reading last weekend.
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For all of Wolves’ quick ball movement and one-touch passing in the early stages, it was the Blues who had the first real effort on goal after Joe Garner was bundled to the floor under the challenge of Romain Seiss and Conor Coady after 15 minutes. Martyn Waghorn and Bersant Celina stood over the following free-kick, with the former Rangers man taking it and clipping the ball over the top of the crossbar.
But the hosts then began to turn their midfield dominance into pressure on Bialkowski’s goal, firstly through Jota’s shot which the Pole fell to his left to hold, and then through a superb angled ball from Coady which forced Kenlock to drop back superbly in order to block Jota’s effort. The following corner dropped to Neves, with the Wolves playmaker thundering his volley over the top.
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The pressure eventually told, though, as Kenlock was nudged off the ball high up the pitch which allowed Jota to drive towards goal and fire a cross across the box which fell to the feet of Cavaleiro, who took a touch and fired into the back of the net.
The home side continued to press in the opening minutes of the second half, with Adam Webster being forced to get back well to block another Cavaleiro effort before Bennett’s header was deflected wide.
But, just occasionally, the Blues had a sight of goal with the first of the second half coming through the direct running of Celina, with his pull-back falling to Waghorn, who could only fire his snapshot wide.
Barry Douglas and Neves both hit the side-netting in the closing stages as Wolves threatened a second, while the replacement trio of Teddy Bishop, David McGoldrick and Freddie Sears were unable to impact the game after being brought off the bench.
WOLVES (3-4-3): Ruddy; Doherty, Bennett, Coady (cpt), Boly, Douglas; Seiss, Neves; Cavaleiro (Enobakhare 66), Jota (N’Diaye 88), Bonatini (Costa 78)
Unused subs: Norris, Ndiaye, Batth, Gibbs-White, Vinagre. Booked: Neves (72)
IPSWICH TOWN (4-2-3-1): Bialkowski; Spence, Chambers (cpt), Webster, Kenlock; Bru (Bishop 66), Connolly; Ward, Waghorn (McGoldrick 72), Celina; Garner (Sears 78).
Unsued subs: Crowe, Smith, Webber, McDonnell. Booked: Waghorn (70), Connolly (80), Webster (86)