Wolves may have turned up at Glanford Park expecting an easy victory. After all, just two years earlier, they had strolled home by two goals, against what was arguably a stronger Scunthorpe side than that of their current squad. But it wasn’t all plain sailing…
Despite missing the influential pairing of Michael Kightly and Sylvain Ebanks-Blake, Mick McCarthy still named a strong line-up, including summer signings Andrew Surman and Ronald Zubar, although the placing of Nathan Mendez-Laing, an academy scholar, raised a few eyebrows.
However, just six minutes in Wolves were firmly under the cosh. Marcus Hahnemann pawed away a vicious cross-shot, before diverting Ben May’s effort clear from danger. At the other end, Joe Murphy seemed comfortable enough, only being tested by Richard Stearman’s hanging ball.
Cue the curse of the commentator. George Friend interlinked with Andy Keogh, and from the Irishmans’ low cross, Friend slid the ball home, albeit via a Marcus Williams deflection. A goal behind, Scunthorpe started to attack with real purpose. Only the mountainous frame of George Elokobi prevented a home goal, after he blocked Grant McCann’s sizzling drive on the line. Garry Thompson’s shot on-the-run then drew a full length dive from Hahnemann, whilst the American ‘keeper also punched clear Niall Canavan’s header.
Then, the Iron finally drew level. Paul Hayes’ low cross somehow evaded Thompson’s boot, but Kevan Hurst pounced at the far post. Many expected the rest of the half to fizzle out quietly, like it so often does in a friendly, but it didn’t happen. Instead, Wolves regained the lead. Friend rode three challenges before slipping a perfect through ball for Keogh. The rest, as they say, is history.
Whatever Nigel Adkins said at half-time clearly worked. Whatever Mick McCarthy said clearly didn’t. Wolves looked lazy, without conviction, a world away from being Premier League standard. So it was no surprise when Scunthorpe equalised just two minutes into the second period. After the ball was sloppily given away several times, Gary Hooper’s neat centre found McCann who acrobatically drilled home.
When the game started to loosen up, it was Scunthorpe who looked the more likely to score. Elokobi was well and truly skinned by McCann’s trademark ‘don’t-look-at-the-eyes’ move, before the enigmatic Thompson almost converted Hurst’s cross, but Zubar managed to poke the ball behind. From the resultant corner, Canavan flicked the ball on to Hooper, but his attempted overhead-kick cleared the crossbar.
Then, rather against the run of play, Wolves regained the advantage. Substitute Matt Jarvis sent in a beautifully flighted cross from the left, and Greg Halford was there to nod it home. With the momentum swung full tilt in Wolves’ favour, as well as Scunthorpes’ tiredness starting to set in, Wolves’ went looking for a fourth.
Elokobi ventured upfield and hit a stinging 25-yard shot that was just about clung onto, before the full-back’s cross was met by Halford, but this time he could only strike the outside of the post. As both sides started to use up their allotted substitutions, the game became disjointed.
But four minutes from the whistle, Ian Morris hauled down Keogh in a move which settled the encounter. Up stepped Halford, who sweetly struck the ball around the wall and into the top corner, giving Josh Lillis no chance.
Just before the end, Scunthorpe had the chance to regain some pride, but Hahnemann saved from Adam Boyes, and the ball bounced behind.
Wolves will be more than happy with the way they attacked, but attacking against Man Utd this term will not win you the game. ‘You will also need to defend’ – something that Wolves must learn?
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