Wolves’ match-winner Ruben Neves alerted his team-mates to the pre-match social media wind-up that backfired badly on Nottingham Forest at Molineux.
In the build-up to their 1-0 defeat, Forest’s official Twitter account posted a mock-up picture of striker Emmanuel Dennis sat on the pitch at the City Ground with three wolf cubs calmly sat with him, with the caption ‘Playtime’.
The post was subsequently deleted, but not before Neves had forwarded it to the Wolves squad.
Neves went on to score the only goal from the penalty spot to lift Wolves out of the relegation zone and leave Forest bottom of the Premier League.
Wolves then posted ‘Playtime’s over’, together with a picture of an axe embedded in a tree trunk.
“Yes, we were aware of it,” said Wolves interim manager Steve Davis. “We were going to use it in the talk but Ruben said he put it on the players’ chat so I didn’t need to say any more.
“Those sort of things used to happen on the pitch. That doesn’t happen so much now, but it gave us an edge.”
Wolves also had to thank goalkeeper Jose Sa for coming out on top in a game of two VAR penalties.
Whilst Neves scored after Harry Toffolo handled Adama Traore’s shot, Sa turned away Brennan Johnson’s effort after VAR had spotted Mathues Nunes tugging back Ryan Yates.
The save was made more remarkable as Sa has been playing with a broken bone in his wrist since he damaged it against Fulham on 13 August.
“It was the other [wrist] thankfully,” said Davis. “He has played through it. A lot of players can play through pain. Some can’t. Fair play to Jose to show courage at that moment.”
Asked if it was dangerous, Davis added: “It depends where the break is. If his wrist is hanging off he is not going to play. It is the severity of the damage. The player has an X-ray and together with the coach decides whether the risk is worth it.”
Victory was a superb way for Davis and fellow boss James Collins to start a crucial week that ends with a home clash with Leicester next Sunday.
However, for Steve Cooper, the pain goes on. His side are without a win since August and have picked up a single point from their last seven games.
Day to remember for stand-in boss Davis
For lifelong Wolves fan Davis, presiding over this victory will be particularly satisfying.
Chairman Jeff Shi’s search for a permanent replacement for Bruno Lage continues and Wolves’ biggest problem – a lack of goal threat – remains.
But Neves’ goal – only Wolves’ fourth in the league this season and their first in the second half of a game for 11 matches – gave them their second win in 17 matches and will lift spirits around a club seemingly in freefall.
No-one encapsulates Wolves’ slide down the Premier League more than Adama Traore.
During two seventh-placed finishes under Nuno Espirito Santo, the Spain winger was a genuine threat.
While inconsistency has always been an irritating feature of his game, at his best Traore is capable of unhinging defences with his pace alone.
But with only three league goals since 2019, his contract running out at the end of the season and a hoped-for move to Barcelona failing to materialise, Traore’s time at Molineux appears to be drifting to a mediocre end.
He at least looked capable of creating chances here, crossing for Kilman to head against a post and Rayan Ait-Nouri to nod wide at the far post.
It was Traore’s shot which struck Harry Toffolo and eventually brought Wolves their penalty after Bramall was sent to the screen by VAR Lee Mason.
Cooper’s penalty pain
Forest handed Cooper a new three-year contract after their four-goal hammering at Leicester a fortnight ago. Without it, his tenure would be extremely precarious now.
He was visibly frustrated at Wolves’ penalty, particularly as the game had moved to the other end of the pitch and the hosts were preparing to take a corner when Mason alerted Bramall to Nunes’ infringement.
Cooper could only watch in despair as Johnson wasted the opportunity to level.
It came a few hours after Wolves ill-advised tweet and evidently someone senior at the City Ground did not like it as the post was deleted.
At the moment, despite a summer outlay in excess of £100m, Forest are the ones who look like a becalmed version of what they are supposed to be.
- 1Malheiro de Sá
- 19Castro Otto
- 3Aït-NouriSubstituted forBuenoat 90+2′minutes
- 28João MoutinhoSubstituted forTraoréat 82′minutes
- 37TraoréSubstituted forNélson Semedoat 85′minutes
- 27NunesSubstituted forHodgeat 90+2′minutesBooked at 90mins
- 10PodenceBooked at 80mins
- 29Diego CostaSubstituted forHwang Hee-Chanat 82′minutes
- 11Hwang Hee-Chan
- 17Gonçalo Guedes
- 22Nélson Semedo
- 7N Williams
- 3S Cook
- 26McKennaBooked at 67mins
- 15ToffoloSubstituted forSurridgeat 89′minutes
- 23FreulerSubstituted forAwoniyiat 84′minutes
- 21KouyatéSubstituted forMangalaat 70′minutes
- 25DennisBooked at 16minsSubstituted forLingardat 70′minutes
- Thomas Bramall
Match ends, Wolverhampton Wanderers 1, Nottingham Forest 0.
Second Half ends, Wolverhampton Wanderers 1, Nottingham Forest 0.
Daniel Podence (Wolverhampton Wanderers) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Neco Williams (Nottingham Forest).
Joseph Hodge (Wolverhampton Wanderers) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Joseph Hodge (Wolverhampton Wanderers).
Neco Williams (Nottingham Forest) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, Wolverhampton Wanderers. Hugo Bueno replaces Rayan Aït-Nouri because of an injury.
Substitution, Wolverhampton Wanderers. Joseph Hodge replaces Matheus Nunes.
Attempt missed. Ryan Yates (Nottingham Forest) header from very close range is too high. Assisted by Steve Cook with a headed pass following a set piece situation.
Foul by Toti (Wolverhampton Wanderers).
Sam Surridge (Nottingham Forest) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Jonny (Wolverhampton Wanderers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Jesse Lingard (Nottingham Forest).
Substitution, Nottingham Forest. Sam Surridge replaces Harry Toffolo.
Attempt missed. Orel Mangala (Nottingham Forest) right footed shot from outside the box is too high.
Substitution, Wolverhampton Wanderers. Nélson Semedo replaces Adama Traoré.
Substitution, Nottingham Forest. Taiwo Awoniyi replaces Remo Freuler.
Corner, Nottingham Forest. Conceded by Rúben Neves.
Foul by Hwang Hee-Chan (Wolverhampton Wanderers).
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