A wonderful win at Wolves with Wood
With just one win in the previous nine Premier League games, that at Everton in mid-March, some of our supporters were getting just a little nervous about our Premier League position, so we went off to Molineux and beat Wolves 4-0 to give the BBC’s Sunday lunchtime audience something of a treat.
It was a fantastic team performance, of that there is no doubt, but with Chris Wood scoring a first half hat trick and then setting up Ashley Westwood’s goal to complete the scoring late in the day, it’s hardly a surprise that he’s collecting all the plaudits.
Today’s game was always one of the big misses for me. I like going to Molineux, it’s one of my favourite grounds. I’m never sure why but I always enjoy my visits there even though I’ve seen far too many defeats over the years to even dare suggest it is a lucky ground for us.
I think, given the events of the past week, we couldn’t have had a more appropriate fixture this weekend. Burnley and Wolves were founder members of the Football League back in 1888. They beat us twice in that inaugural season, ironically scoring four in both games.
We were the second and third English teams to play in the European Cup, following Manchester United. Wolves were there in the 1958/59 and 1959/60 seasons with us following in 1960/61 and we’ve both played in the Europa League in the last three years; Wolves admittedly having more success than us. So, quite clearly, Wolves v Burnley really is a proper, historic game on the English football calendar.
Football is now sitting at home waiting to watch it on television and an hour before kick off checking out the team news. There were some surprises. We weren’t sure whether Sean Dyche would stick with the system he’d used at Manchester United or whether he would recall Matěj Vydra at the expense of Jack Cork or Josh Brownhill. He did recall Vydra but it was Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson who dropped out and sat alongside Phil Bardsley, Erik Pieters, Dale Stephens, fit again Ashley Barnes and Jay Rodriguez on what was possibly the most experienced subs bench we’ve had all season.
On a bright afternoon that left Wolves’ goalkeeper Rui Patrício in the shadows at one end, it was Nick Pope who was forced into the first save right in front of where we would have been sat in the Stan Cullis Stand.
Straight from the Wolves clearance, Matt Lowton played the ball forward. It went over Boly and found Wood who turned Conor Coady inside out before getting clear in the box on the right hand side. I thought the angle was too tight for a shot; Wood didn’t and hit his effort past Patrício and just inside the far post.
Before we had time to settle down and enjoy being in front, we went 2-0 up. We got the ball into the box and Wood got to it only for Wolves to half clear. The ball reached Adama Traoré but when he tried to make a short pass it was spotted by the outstanding Dwight McNeil who got in and rolled it across the six yard box for Wood to double his tally.
This is when I got a bit nervous. We were 2-0 up at Everton, conceded but went on to win. Then we were 2-0 up at Southampton, conceded too quickly and went on to lose it 3-2. This time we never, ever looked as though we might let Wolves back in and the only incident of note in our penalty box came when Daniel Podence needlessly stayed down.
Vydra was close to scoring a third but was at stretch trying to reach a ball coming in from the left and with half time approaching we won a corner on the right. McNeil’s delivery found Wood who headed powerfully home to win himself a first ever Premier League hat trick while giving us a half time 3-0 lead.
Three was almost four just into the second half. This time Vydra got clear, rounded the goalkeeper before tucking the ball into the net. There was no flag from the assistant but it was ruled offside, denying a goal for the striker that would have been so richly deserved on the back of this performance.
In truth, Wolves never threatened to get back into things. Matt Lowton fired in a shot that was heading into the bottom corner before Patrício pushed it away for a corner and there was never any doubt in my mind that should another goal be scored then it would come our way and it did.
I’m not so sure I saw much more of the play, I couldn’t take my eyes away from the ‘WOL 0-4 BUR’ in the top left hand corner of the screen. It was all over and Darren England’s final whistle blew after three minutes of stoppage time to bring it to an end.
A word on England too. Although not the most difficult of games to referee, I thought he handled it really well and it was almost like watching a young Mike Dean in action at times the way he made use of playing advantage.
But the afternoon was about Burnley, our performance and this remarkable result. We’ll be told that Wolves were poor, and maybe they were, but you can only play as well as the opposition will allow you and from the off yesterday we just didn’t let them play.
We might not be mathematically safe just yet but I can’t imagine we’ll need much more.
It was also a day of breaking records as you will see below.
- Our biggest ever win in the Premier League.
- Our biggest top flight away win since we won 4-0 at Sunderland in November 1965 on a day when Burnley Express reporter Keith McNee described the Burnley team of the day as being a better team than the one that had won the league six years earlier.
- It was a first top flight double against Wolves since the 195/57 season. We beat them 3-0 at home that season with goals from Albert Cheesebrough, Peter McKay and Brian Pilkington. Later in the season it was 2-1 at Molineux with Cheesebrough again on the scoresheet following an opener from Doug Newlands.
- Chris Wood scored our first top flight away hat trick since Willie Irvine bagged three in a 5-2 win at Fulham in December 1965; Brian O’Neil and Brian Miller scored the other goals that day.
- The hat trick was the first Premier League hat trick scored in the first half of by an away team player this century. The previous player to achieve this was Michael Owen for Liverpool in a 4-1 win at Newcastle in August 1998. Besides Owen and Wood, only Chris Sutton has achieved this in the Premier League era.
- It was Wood’s first ever Premier League hat trick and his first at any level since August 2013 when he scored three as Leicester beat Carlisle 5-2 in a League Cup tie at Brunton Park.
- His final goal yesterday took him to ten goals for the season. Only six players have hit double figures in the Premier League in each of the last four seasons. The other five are Harry Kane, Alexandre Lacazette, Mo Salah, Son Heung-min and Jamie Vardy.
- His hat trick goal was the 400th league goal scored by Burnley since Sean Dyche became manager.
All in all, a fantastic day.
The teams were;
Wolves: Rui Patrício, Romain Saïss, Conor Coady, Willy Boly, Nélson Semedo (Fábio Silva 58), Rúben Neves (Vitor Ferreira 69), Leander Dendoncker, Rayan Aït-Nouri, Daniel Podence (Morgan Gibbs-White 69), Adama Traoré, Willian José. Subs not used: John Ruddy, Ki-Jana Hoever, Lewis Richards, Maximilian Kilman, Owen Otasowie, Theo Corbeanu.
Yellow Card: Adama Traoré.
Burnley: Nick Pope, Matt Lowton, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Charlie Taylor, Josh Brownhill, Ashley Westwood, Jack Cork, Dwight McNeil, Matěj Vydra (Jay Rodriguez 73), Chris Wood. Subs not used: Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Will Norris, Phil Bardsley, Jimmy Dunne, Erik Pieters, Dale Stephens, Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson, Ashley Barnes.
Yellow Cards: James Tarkowski, Matt Lowton.
Referee: Darren England (Doncaster).