Live Commentary: Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-1 Watford - as it happened

Watford's Almen Abdi scoring his side's first goal against Wolves on March 1, 2013
© PA Photos
Sports Mole brings you live coverage of tonight's Championship encounter between struggling Wolves and high-flying Watford.

Struggling Wolverhampton Wanderers hosted high-flying Watford in the Championship this evening looking for their first win under manager Dean Saunders.

An Almen Abdi free kick on the stroke of half time gave the visitors the lead, but they failed to make the most of their chances to kill the game off.

This allowed Bakary Sako to pounce on a loose ball and net the equaliser for his side in second-half stoppage time as the game came to a dramatic conclusion.

You can read how it all unfolded with Sports Mole's live coverage below.


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7pmGood evening! Thank you for joining Sports Mole for what promises to be an intriguing match in the Championship tonight! Let's get straight down to business.

7.02pmTEAM NEWS: First things first, let's bring you the team news. Wolves make two changes to their side, bringing in Stephen Hunt and Kevin Doyle, while Watford also make a pair of changes, including Jonathan Bond and Troy Deeney. Full lineups on the way.

7.04pmWOLVES STARTING XI: Ikeme; Doherty, Johnson, Gorkss, Robinson; Hunt, Henry, O'Hara, Sako; Sigurdarson, Doyle

7.05pmWOLVES SUBS: De Vries, Batth, Ward, Davis, Edwards, Ebanks-Blake, Cassidy

7.06pmWATFORD STARTING XI: Bond; Doyley (c), Nosworthy, Ekstrand; Cassetti, Abdi, Chalobah, Battocchio, Anya; Deeney, Vydra

7.06pmWATFORD SUBS: Bonham, Yeates, Hogg, Murray, Pudil, Geijo, Forestieri

7.08pmSo no real surprises for either side. Watford will be without first-choice keeper Manuel Almunia, who picked up an injury during their 2-1 victory over Derby in their last outing. He will be replaced by Jonathan Bond.

7.10pmWolves will have to be particularly wary of Matej Vydra up front for Watford. The Czech striker has scored 20 goals in 29 appearances for his side so far this season, and is a big reason why they currently sit in an automatic promotion spot.

7.12pmWolves have threats of their own, however. They may not be playing like it at the moment, but don't forget that some of these players were playing Premier League football last season. The likes of Bakary Sako and Kevin Doyle will pose threats to the Watford goal, although top scorer Sylvan Ebanks-Blake can only make the bench.


7.14pmManager Dean Saunders must be praying for his players to start reaching their full potential soon. He is still without a win since taking over the club in January, and pressure is already starting to mount on the former Doncaster Rovers boss.

7.14pmIn fact, the bad news stretches even further back than that for tonight's hosts. They have not won a match in 2013, and you'd have to go back to December 21 for their last win. That's 12 consecutive games in all competitions without a win.

7.16pmDean Saunders is ever the optimist, though, and he will be looking to get out of the relegation zone tonight. A win would see them do that, but a loss would plunge them further into trouble, leaving them two points off 21st-placed Barnsley having played two games more.

7.18pmIt will be interesting to see, then, how Saunders approaches this match. He is at home, but they are playing a high-flying team in good form. Is it more a case of a 'must-win' match or a 'must-not-lose' match? A win against such opposition would certainly boost the players' confidence significantly, but a loss would have the opposite impact. There are a lot of things for him to weigh up tonight!

7.20pmAs for Watford, everything is pretty rosy for them at the moment. They have picked up 13 points from their last possible 15, with a draw against fellow promotion contenders Crystal Palace the only blotch on their record in recent weeks.

7.22pmThey have only lost two league games in 2013, but one of those was to lowly Bristol City, which could give Watford some belief tonight. Even so, their record this calender year so far reads as an impressive W7 D1 L2 in the Championship.

7.24pmThey are currently level on points with third-placed Hull City, so a win would pile the pressure on the Tigers to get a result against Birmingham City tomorrow afternoon in order to keep up with Watford. Maximum points would also see them peg Cardiff City's lead to just five points, although they will have played two games more than the league leaders.

7.26pmA loss would obviously not be ideal, but their superior goal difference means that they will still be in second place at the end of the night. It would, however, give the chasing pack a chance to catch up with them tomorrow.

7.28pmThe bad news for Wolves fans is that they have the second-worst home record in the Championship so far this season. They have picked up 18 points - including just four wins - in their 17 games in front of their own fans. The Molineux is not exactly a fortress.

7.30pmThe even-worse news for Wolves fans is that they are coming up against the team with the best away record in the league this season. Watford have picked up 32 points on their travels this season, winning 10 times and scoring 38 goals - 10 more than their nearest competitors. In fact, Watford have a better record away from home this season than they do at Vicarage Road.

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7.32pmWatford also beat Wolves in the return fixture earlier this season. Goals from Nathaniel Chalobah and Troy Deeney saw off a 10-man Wolves side, with Bakary Sako scoring for the visitors in a 2-1 loss.

7.34pmWolves won the two meetings before that, but overall Watford have the superior record in this fixture, winning nine of their 27 meetings. Wolves have won seven times, and there have been 11 draws.

7.36pmWolves manager Dean Saunders before the game: "Yes I have [seen enough to suggest we can win]. It's easy to say that but all of the games we've lost we could have got something out of it."

7.38pmMore from Saunders: "I've been in this position a lot of times throughout my career, and we just have to fight our way out. I think we can win tonight."

7.40pmTypical Dean Saunders in that interview. He seems defiant and optimistic, and he has to be. It is widely considered that Wolves are too good to go down - especially suffer successive relegations, but continued losses would really hurt the players' confidence and then anything could happen. Saunders has a tough job ahead of him to keep his players' belief up, but he is an expert at doing so.

7.41pmPREDICTION: Right, we're nearing kickoff at the Molineux, which means that it is time for my prediction! Saunders is right that his side have been unlucky at times during their poor run of form, but I feel that they are playing Watford at the wrong time. I can't see Gianfranco Zola's side losing this, and they'll definitely get goals. I'm going to go for Wolves 0-2 Watford.

7.43pmWatford boss Gianfranco Zola: "I am surprised to see Wolves struggling in the relegation zone because they have some big players, but I still believe that they deserve to stay in this league."

7.44pmThere is also another Championship game taking place tonight as Derby County take on Crystal Palace and, as always, we'll be keeping you up to date there.

7.45pmWe're nearing kickoff here. The players are lined up and ready to go. This is a vital night for both sides, but for very different reasons.

7.46pmWelshman Dean Saunders will be hopeful of some luck and a first win on St David's Day today. His side are embraced in a long huddle at the moment.

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0 minWatford get us underway!

1 minHunt puts in a heavy early challenge as Watford monopolise the ball in the opening exchanges. Karl Henry eventually wins it back, but his ball upfield is aimless.

2 minLiverpool loanee Jack Robinson makes good progress down the left but is stopped in his tracks. From the resulting throw, O'Hara hoists it into the box, and Doyle wins the header but Nosworthy is on hand to clear.

3 minWolves are making the early forays upfield which will be promising for the watching fans, of which there aren't many.

4 minA typically strong Henry tackle sets off a counter attack for the hosts, but Doyle's pass is intercepted with Sako waiting in a good position.

5 minSHOT! Abdi is slipped in inside the box, and turns away from his man. Vydra and Deeney and waiting for the pass, but Abdi goes for goal himself and it's a fairly comfortable save for Ikeme.

7 minCLOSE! Wolves almost architects of their own downfall there. Gorkss looks nervous when clearing the ball and it hits Vyrda and falls to Deeney. His shot is deflected just wide, with Ikeme stranded.

8 minAfter a bright start from Wolves, Watford are beginning to take a hold of this one. Still very early stages, however.

10 minGorkss does well under pressure this time, sticking a leg out to give the ball back to Ikeme with the Watford strikers lurking like vultures.

12 minCassetti slips the ball past his marker but his cross is headed away before it can reach Deeney at the back post.

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14 minA deep cross allows Sako to battle his way onto the ball. He works his way into a shooting position and fires a powerful, low strike which is en route to goal before Nosworthy sticks out an important leg to clear it away.

16 minUPDATE: The first Championship goal of the night has come at Pride Park, where Crystal Palace have taken the lead over Derby through Yannick Bolasie.

18 minVydra has a chance to break and races past the halfway line. He tries to thread a pass through to Deeney, which is just too powerful and runs out for a goalkick.

19 minWHAT A SAVE! Bond, on his first start for the club, has just made one of the best double saves you will see this season! Doyle's first effort requires him to get down low to save the shot, which he does well, but the parry goes straight to Sigurdarson, who looks destined to score. However, Bond somehow gets a strong hand to the powerful volley to keep it out. Sigurdarson should have scored, but take nothing away from Bond, that was a wonderful save.

22 minVydra and Deeney link up very well together, trading passes before being stopped by Gorkss just as Vydra was looking to pull the trigger.

24 minCHANCE! Cassetti floats a ball into the box and Deeney gets up very well indeed to win the header. His effort is pretty much straight at Ikeme, though, and the Wolves keeper saves comfortably.

25 minThe two Wolves centre-backs lumber their considerable frames up the field for a free kick, but O'Hara's ball is poor, straight into the keeper's arms. Moans and groans ripple around the Molineux.

27 minWatford have a corner as Johnson clears a low cross behind. Johnson is on hand again to clear the set piece out for another corner, before getting up to clear that one as well. Commanding defending.

29 minDoyle knocks the ball down for Hunt on the edge of the box, but the winger's shot is scuffed and straight at an opposition defender. Hunt gets the luck of the bounce and sets up another attack, but the eventual cross is over hit with plenty of bodies in the box.

30 minLloyd Doyley's long range shot is blocked, resulting in the ball flying high into the air. Ikeme comes to claim but completely misses his initial punch, only to collect at the second attempt under no pressure.


32 minCHANCE! Robinson lets an easily-controllable ball under his foot inside his own box, allowing Cassetti a shooting opportunity, but his near-post effort is comfortable for Ikeme.

34 minWolves give the ball away again in their own half! Nothing comes of it for Deeney this time, but they are bound to be punished sooner or later if they keep this up.

35 minCassetti races down the right and flicks it past Robinson. He tries to turn the Liverpool loanee again inside the box, but Robinson stands firm and forces Cassetti to lay it back, allowing Henry to nip in and clear.

37 minAn increasingly rare foray into the Watford is greeted by a burst of noise from the home fans, but Watford are soon back on the attack. Sako then has a chance to slip Hunt through on goal, but gets his pass all wrong.

39 minWatford have a free kick from a long way out, and Chalobah looks like he wants to shoot. He does shoot, and the ball ends up in row Z. Gareth Bale that wasn't.

40 minVydra has the ball on the edge of the box and Henry tries to nick a tackle in from behind. Vydra goes down and the ref gives a free kick in a very promising position.

41 minGOAL! Wolves 0-1 Watford (Almen Abdi)

41 minThis time Abdi takes it upon himself to shoot, and he doesn't disappoint. He clips a curling effort over the wall and past Ikeme, leaving the Wolves keeper with no chance. Fabulous strike which takes him into double figures for this season.

43 minWatford now have as many away goals this season as Wolves have home and away combined.

44 minThat one had been coming, to be fair. Watford had been on top for the last 15-20 minutes or so and they deserve to be ahead.

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45 minThere will be just one minute of added time at the Molineux.

45+1 minHALF TIME: Wolves 0-1 Watford

8.34pmA smattering of "There's only one Mick McCarthy" broke out towards the end of that half, and things certainly haven't been the same since he left! Wolves find themselves 1-0 down at half time and will need a huge second-half effort to ensure that they are not in the relegation zone at the end of the night.

8.36pmYou can read Jack Prescott's half time report of tonight's match here.

8.37pmSo it was a pretty special goal from Abdi that is the difference between the sides at the moment, but overall Watford deserve their lead. They were on top for large periods of the half and finally got the breakthrough just before the interval.

8.39pmIt could have all been so different, however. Bond pulled off a superb double save on his full debut for Watford, first denying Doyle and then Sigurdarson.

8.41pmThere will be some controversy over the free kick that led to the goal. It look soft on first viewing, but replays suggest that Henry did catch Vydra, so the ref was right to award the set piece.

8.43pmSo, what will the two managers be saying now? Well, Dean Saunders has an even bigger dilemma now than he had before the match. Does he attack and go for the win or draw and risk getting picked off by one of the best counter-attacking sides in the league, or does he remain tight at the back and hope to nick a goal from a set piece? It will be interesting to see which he goes for!

8.45pmZola, meanwhile, will be keen for more of the same. He will want his side to turn their possession into more chances, but as things stand they are in control.

8.47pmI wouldn't be surprised to see Sylvan Ebanks-Blake enter the fray sooner rather than later. Wolves need more attacking intent, they haven't created anything other than the double save from Bond.

8.47pmRight, the teams are back out and we're nearly ready for the second half. No changes for either side.

45 minHere we go! Wolves get us back underway.


46 minA long ball upfield sets Doyle off down the right. He can't beat his man, however, and is forced to lay it back to O'Hara, whose cross is collected by Bond.

47 minYELLOW CARD! Sigurdarson picks up the first yellow card of the game for a foul on Ekstrand, and he can have no complaints.

49 minA superb sweeping ball finds Anya racing down the left. The winger takes it brilliantly in his stride, but his cross can't find a man in blue.

51 minWolves break through Sako, and he makes a strong run through the middle. He has a chance to feed the ball through to Doyle and Sigurdarson, but chooses to go alone and is eventually crowded out. He wants a free kick, but the ref is having none of it.

52 minSHOT! Anya receives the ball about 30 yards from goal and no-one closes him down, so he decides to shoot. His effort is weak, however, and bobbles out for a goal kick.

53 minHalf-chance for Wolves as a corner is whipped in. Bond comes out to collect but is beaten to the ball by Gorkss, whose header goes a couple of yards wide of the post. The centre-back probably should've done better there.

55 minCHANCE! This is a lot better from Wolves. Sako feeds Doyle down the left, and the strike cuts inside on his favoured right foot. He has a chance to slip Sako back in but uses him as a decoy runner and goes for goal himself, forcing Bond into a low save.

58 minCHANCE! Another chance for Watford as O'Hara pings a fine ball behind the defence to Hunt, who is clear on goal. He tries to control it with the outside of his boot and it skims under him and out for a goal kick. If he had brought that under control that was a real chance.

60 minThis one has turned into an end-to-end match in the last couple of minutes. Wolves are still looking to attack everytime they go forward - something they weren't doing in the first half - and Watford are always on the lookout for a counter-attack.

61 minSigurdarson slams the ball down in anger after a throw-in was awarded against him. That's a dangerous game to play when you're already on a yellow card.

63 minWOLVES SUBS: Double change for Wolves as Ebnaks-Blake replaces Kevin Doyle, and Jake Cassidy comes on in place of Hunt.


65 minO'Hara zips another fine pass out to Sako, who races past his man with ease before whipping a brilliant cross in. No-one is waiting in the box, however, and the chance goes.

66 minCHANCE! Cassetti finds his way to the byline in the Wolves box and fires a low cross right into the danger zone. It travels all the way to the back post where Anya is waiting, but his effort looks like it is going back across goal when he really should have scored!

67 minSHOT! Battocchio fires a shot from long range which looks to be going over before dipping dramatically at the last second. Ikeme sticks up and hand and fingertips it over the bar.

69 minWOLVES SUB: Off comes captain Karl Henry and on comes David Davis. Watford have now made all three subs.

71 minSigurdarson wins a throw in for Wolves in an attacking position, but it is cleared away. Pretty much every high ball has been comfortably dealt with by both defences today.

73 minSako twists and turns down the left but is attended to by Cassetti, who is forced to concede a corner. Sako looks like Wolves' most dangerous player at the moment.

75 minYELLOW CARD! Easy decision for the ref as Davis threatens to breakaway but is pulled back by Abdi. Clever foul, but it was always going to get him a caution.

76 minCHANCE! What a chance for Wolves to equalise! Ebanks-Blake squeezes a pass through to Sigurdarson who is on the edge of the six yard box when he fires towards goal. Bond pulls off another fine save and the rebound is blazed over the bar. Sigurdarson should have scored again there.

78 minWATFORD SUB: On comes Fernando Forestieri for Matej Vydra, who has not been at his best tonight.

80 minCHANCE! Watford have a chance of their own to put this game beyond doubt! Deeney holds his man off before laying the ball to Forestieri. The sub slips as he is striking it, though, and sends it high over the bar.

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81 minWATFORD SUB: Watford make their second change as Hogg replaces Chalobah.

83 minSaunders is urging his players up the field with just under 10 minutes left. He has the air of a desperate man about him.

84 minWATFORD SUB: Final change from Zola as Anya strolls off the field to be replaced by Daniel Pudil.

84 minA Wolves corner results in a Watford break. They have three against two and Forestieri feeds it in to Deeney before getting the return ball back. Wolves get men behind the ball, however, and block the eventual shot.

86 minEbanks-Blake shows great desire to chase a lost cause down. He is never going to get there, but it is good to see such hunger from these Wolves players - they're going to need it in a relegation battle.

88 minPENALTY SHOUT! Sako whips a dangerous ball into the box and it bounces up awkwardly for Nosworthy, hitting his body before going out for a corner. The fans shout for handball but there isn't a big appeal for a penalty from the players, and rightly so as it hit Nosworthy's body.

90 minThere will be five minutes added time. Perhaps a chance for Wolves to grab a late one?

90 minCLOSE! The equaliser almost comes in unlikely fashion! A cross from Cassidy ends up more like a shot, and Bond is backtracking but just manages to palm it away.

90+2 minGOAL! Wolves 1-1 Watford (Bakary Sako)

90+2 minThey've done it! A long throw into the box is flicked on by a Watford man into space around the centre of the box. Sako is the fastest to react and drills a low shot into the bottom corner. He has looked most likely to score, and that could be a huge goal this season.

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90+4 minWolves are looking for a winner now! Ebanks-Blake races down the right and squeezes a cross in. Nosworthy puts a tackle in at the same time and the hosts want a penalty, but the ref waves it away.

90+4 minWHAT A CHANCE! Oh Watford should have won it there! The ball falls to an unmarked Forestieri inside the box, but he rushes his effort on the half volley and slices it way over the bar. That should have been it!

90+5 minFULL TIME: Wolves 1-1 Watford

9.40pmThere you have it! A dramatic end to an entertaining Championship match sees Wolves score late on to rescue a point against Watford.

9.41pmAlmen Abdi scored the opener late in the first half with a fine free kick, but Bakary Sako was on hand to steer a loose ball past Bond in second half stoppage time. Forestieri really should have won it for the visitors in the 94th minute, but he rushed his shot.

9.42pmElsewhere tonight, Crystal Palace have run out 1-0 winners away to Derby County.

9.43pmStill no wins in 12 for Wolves and they remain in the bottom three, but that game will give them confidence - if only because of the late goal. Watford, meanwhile, could be left to rue their inability to kill the game off when their promotion rivals play tomorrow.

9.45pmRight, that's your lot tonight! Thanks for joining Sports Mole for what proved to be a dramatic night that didn't fully satisfy either side. I'll leave you with Jack Prescott's match report, and be sure to stay tuned for analysis which will be on site within half an hour. Good night!

Watford's Troy Deeney is congratulated by team mates after scoring the opening goal against Birmingham on February 16, 2013
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