Pictures and analysis of Millwall 0 Wolves 2

Wolves finally gave their long-suffering fans something to shout about and their survival hopes a shot in the arm at Millwall.

Wolves finally gave their long-suffering fans something to shout about and their survival hopes a shot in the arm at Millwall.

It was a convincing performance they had threatened in flashes, but never delivered until last night as boss Dean Saunders finally claimed his first win as Wolves manager after 57 days and 10 games in charge.

One win doesn’t make a season of course, but the hope is that this first victory in 14 can somehow halt the juggernaut-like decline.

This rare highlight was three points they fully deserved and one which provides genuine hope for the challenges ahead in the final 10 matches, in a performance brimming with determination, bite and, at times, quality.

No one summed up those attributes more than the recalled Sylvan Ebanks-Blake.

Like many, the powerful striker hasn’t had the season he had hoped for, but he reminded everyone of his prowess at this level by setting up Dave Edwards’s opener before scoring a superb second goal for his 12th of the campaign.

And in the surprise absence of the rested Bjorn Sigurdarson, he showed admirable workrate and industry for the team.

Around him, there were equally determined displays by Kaspars Gorkss, Karl Henry and Edwards as Millwall barely troubled Carl Ikeme.

Saunders has used 24 players in his first 10 games, and another four changes at The New Den last night suggested he still hadn’t found his best team – until now maybe.

Resting Jack Robinson and a rusty Stephen Hunt for Stephen Ward and Edwards was understandable. But to leave out Sigurdarson , a player who had been Wolves’ most dangerous forward in recent games, was more questionable.

Yet Ebanks-Blake and, to a lesser degree, Jake Cassidy, did everything they could and more to fill the void.

And against toothless opposition as vulnerable as themselves following six defeats in their previous eight games, Wolves found a team ripe for the picking.

They gave Millwall a scare after just 66 seconds when keeper David Forde spilled Bakary Sako’s inswinging corner.

Then came the breakthrough they needed as they took a ninth-minute lead with a well-crafted goal from Edwards in a move involving three of the four recalled players.

The midfielder finished with a smart side-foot volley from near the penalty spot after Ebanks-Blake returned Stephen Ward’s centre.

It gave Wolves the platform they desperately needed to end their miserable run, and with it came the welcome sight of the return of some of their old verve and passion. Unlike at Barnsley, when Saunders switched to a 4-5-1 formation which seemed to encourage pressure on to the visitors, this time they remained on the front foot and kept their two strikers up front.

But it didn’t stop Millwall making a decent fist of the rest of the first half and early substitute and former Wolves forward Andy Keogh saw a shot blocked by Gorkss.

Wolves had to defend three corners before the break, but their determination was summed up by no fewer than four players hurling themselves in front of Jimmy Abdou’s shot.

The hosts had the first chance of the second period and it was Keogh who slid in and just failed to apply the finishing touch to Chris Taylor’s cross on 52 minutes.

Millwall’s expected cavalry charge failed to materialise and it was a breakaway Wolves goal in the 61st minute which shaped the outcome.

Ebanks-Blake’s superb overhead kick blew away his Cardiff demons after his initial shot had been blocked by Mark Beevers and Jamie O’Hara headed the loose ball back into the danger area. With a two-goal cushion, any fire in Millwall’s belly soon extinguished.

Next up is Nottingham Forest and, for once, Wolves can face the next game with renewed hope.

By Tim Nash

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