Theo Walcott’s first goal since rejoining Southampton was cancelled out by Pedro Neto’s equalizer fifteen minutes from time as both teams settled for a point in a 1-1 draw at Molineux.
Southampton went in to the game making only one change from the win at Newcastle last time out which sent them momentarily top of the league. In came Ryan Bertrand returning from injury to replace Jack Stephens at left back. Hasenhuttl stuck with his front two of Walcott and Adams who linked up well last time out. Star man Danny Ings remains on the sidelines with a knee injury.
Wolves, on the other hand, were missing club captain Conor Coady who was forced to self-isolate after coming in to contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. That meant that, for the first time in the Premier League, Wolves had to adapt to a new formation as they played with a back four instead of a back five.
The first half proved how evenly matched the teams are. Southampton dominated possession, but Wolves had the better chances. If it wasn’t for our Man of the Match Alex McCarthy making a string of important saves, the Saints would’ve gone in to the break a goal or two down. Most notably in only the 5th minute of the game, he made a crucial double save that any Premier League goalkeeper would’ve been proud of.
The sides went in to the break at 0-0.
It wasn’t until the 58th minute that the deadlock was broken. The lively Moussa Djenepo played a deep cross into Che Adams who, at the second time of asking, played a dangerous low pass back across goal which was tapped in by the on-running Walcott. It was an impressive goal; a striker’s instinct shown by Walcott who is relishing his new role partnering Adams upfront.
It was Walcott’s first goal since rejoining the Saints on loan this season; his last coming as a youngster in the 2005-06 season before his transfer to Arsenal.
Walcott, now high on confidence, continued to make dangerous runs in behind the Wolves back four. In the 65th minute he was played through on goal by Adams but unfortunately dragged his right-footed shot just wide of the goal. The Saints really should’ve gone 2-0 up.
It was in the 75th minute when Wolves made the Saints pay for their missed opportunities. Pedro Neto, who had only been on the pitch for a matter of minutes, equalized with an instinctive finish after Raul Jiminez had struck the post.
For the remaining 15 minutes of the game the home side pressed for a winner and the Saints were forced to try and hold on for a point. McCarthy again made some brilliant saves to ensure the sides shared the points.
It was Wolves’ powerhouse Adama Traore who proved to be the the biggest threat to scoring a winner. During the game the Saints often doubled up on the ex-Barcelona player who started to get in behind as Bertrand tired at left-back.
But it wasn’t to be for Wolves. The 1-1 scoreline was a fair reflection of the game as neither side deserved to lose. Both teams were well-organised and looked dangerous going forward.
The draw means that the Saints, who are now unbeaten in their last seven, stay 5th. A win would’ve sent them 3rd.
The game occurred on the eve of the news that, finally, fans will be let back in to stadiums. Albeit, only a maximum of 4000 in the lowest-risk areas of the country which will be placed in ‘tier 1’ and 2000 in ‘tier 2’. However, the news will still be a relief to those fans who are desperate to watch their teams live for the time since March.
Goalscorer Theo Walcott said “The point feels like a win to us – its a very tough place to come away from home and get a result”.
Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl was equally impressed with his sides performance as he said “They are a really good side with quality. Its tough to defend for 90 minutes against them without giving them chances. I’m proud of the team. That was one of our most intense performances of the season.”
The Saints host Manchester United at St Mary’s on Sunday (2pm). Arguably, this may be a good time to play United who are low on confidence at the moment and may struggle to cope with the intensity Hasenhuttl demands from his team.
FT: Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-1 SOUTHAMPTON (Neto 75′) (Walcott 58′)
Wolverhampton: Rui Patricio, Semedo, Kilman, Boly, Ait-Nouri, Dendoncker, Neves (booked) (Neto 70′), Moutinho, Traore (booked), Jiminez, Podence (Vitinha 85′). Unused subs: Ruddy, Hoever, Marcal, Soares Silva, Otasowie.
Southampton: McCarthy, Walker-Peters, Bednarek, Vestergaard, Bertrand, Armstrong (Diallo 90′), Romeu, Ward-Prowse, Djenepo (Long 79′), Walcott, Adams. Unused subs: Forster, Stephens, Obafemi, Tella, N’Lundulu.
Wessex Scene Man of the Match: Alex McCarthy (Southampton)
Referee: Andre Marriner