Hello and welcome to Sports Mole
's live text coverage of the Championship clash between Wolverhampton Wanderers
and Nottingham Forest
at Molineux. Just one point and one place separates these Midlands rivals heading into tonight's meeting, with both currently stranded in mid-table.
Neither team can truly boast about their current position, but victory for one of these sides this evening will be enough to take them right into the playoff mix ahead of the hectic festive schedule. With half of the campaign still left to play, including three games over the next week or so, that is not a particularly bad place to be.
WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS XI: Ikeme; Iorfa, Batth, Ebanks-Landell, Golbourne; McDonald, Price, Henry, Edwards, Graham; Le Fondre
NOTTINGHAM FOREST XI: De Vries; Lichaj, Mancienne, Mills, Pinillos; Lansbury, Vaughan, Osborn, Mendes; Oliveira, O'Grady
has opted to keep faith with Adam Le Fondre up top for this evening's match, meaning that Benik Afobe has to settle for a place on the bench once more. That is a little surprising, in truth, but maybe the Wolves boss has an eye on that upcoming transfer window. Regardless, the decision presents Cardiff City loanee Le Fondre with a real chance to make an impact.
An unchanged starting lineup from last time out also means that Ethan Ebanks-Landell
will be given another opportunity to impress in the heart of defence alongside skipper Danny Batth. Wolves are without hamstring victim Emiliano Martinez between the sticks, so Carl Ikeme will continue to deputise for the remainder of the month.
Like opponents Wolves, Forest have also gone with an unchanged starting lineup for tonight's match - Dougie Freedman
deciding against changing a winning formula, despite having Jack Hobbs back from suspension. Michael Mancienne and Matt Mills kept a clean sheet in an impressive team showing last weekend against Fulham, and they retain their spots in the heart of defence.
Chris O'Grady and Nelson Oliveira and Ryan Mendes will likely lead the attack in a 4-3-3 formation, as Forest aim to keep their recent positive form going at Molineux. The Reds have won three out of their last four games overall to drag themselves just about into playoff contention, but three points will be required here to keep their hopes alive.
NOTTINGHAM FOREST SUBS: Evtimov, Hobbs, Trotter, Ward, Williams, Tesche, Blackstock
WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS SUBS: McCarey, Doherty, Coady, Byrne, Wallace, Holt, Afobe
Benik Afobe is a proven goalscorer at this level, but he has been omitted from the Wolverhampton Wanderers starting lineup once again this evening. Adam Le Fondre starts up top for an unchanged home side, while Nottingham Forest also stick with a winning formula from last time out.
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Despite their recent upturn in fortunes, Forest still find themselves six points off the playoff zone. It is awfully congested in the middle third at the moment, but any major slip-ups between now and the new year could prove costly. Freedman admitted as much himself, in fact, when claiming in the build-up to this one that his side simply have to keep the momentum going into the festive period.
Forest really hit their stride against Fulham last weekend when finding the net three times, while they also hit the same tally in their previous meeting with Reading a week prior. It was victory over arch-rivals Derby County which truly started this run a little over a month ago, but the Reds are still very much playing catch up at this moment in time.
DID YOU KNOW? Nottingham Forest have gained 10 points from losing positions so far this season - the best tally in the division. That certainly stands them in good stead for games against Blackburn Rovers, Derby County, Leeds United and Cardiff City before the year is officially out.
Wolves are just five points off the playoff zone, meanwhile, yet this has also been an indifferent campaign thus far. Just two wins from their nine home games so far, against a Forest side with an identical record on the road, has left supporters feeling short changed at Molineux over the past few months. They have made their discontent known, but victory tonight and they are within touching distance of the top six.
Jackett revealed earlier this week that he has a few targets in mind for when the window reopens in a few weeks' time, but whether he has the adequate funds to strengthen is a different question entirely. Wanderers put a four-game winless run behind them last time out by beating Rotherham United on their travels, with three of those games ended in a stalemate.
PREVIOUS MEETINGS! Wolves beat Forest 2-1 in April to end a three game losing run against their opponents. In terms of recent encounters at Molineux, the Reds have won two on the bounce and will be looking to make that a perfect three here tonight. That will be no easy task, however, as they have lost their last four away games over recent weeks.
Wolves have badly struggled for momentum this term, with their longest winning run coming in early October when picking up two victories on the bounce. Forest have recovered from a slow start, meanwhile, taking nine points from a possible 12, but they need to keep that run going if they are to seriously challenge for a place in the playoffs. Plenty to play for, then, as the teams emerge down the tunnel...
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KICKOFF! Wolves get us underway at Molineux in this Midlands derby. Victory required by both here this evening, you feel, with the festive period now right on the horizon.
Half a chance early on for Lichaj, who gets on the end of a Mills knockdown by fails to divert the ball towards goal. Worrying defending from the home side, but thankfully for them there was too much for the full-back to do.
Wolves remaining patient at the moment in an attempt to find a way through the Forest backline. I mentioned that the Reds have lost their last four away games, well they haven't lost five in succession since 2010.
Oliveira does very well down the left flank to get the better of his man, before cutting the ball back into a central position. O'Grady failed to keep up with play, though, meaning a simple enough piece of defending for Wolves in the end.
SHOT! Forest definitely looking the better side at the moment, as the lively Oliveira creates a yard of space around 30 yards from goal and gets away the first shot on goal. It was all very routine for Ikeme, though, who got down low to collect the ball down the middle.
This has been a very impressive start by the visitors, who are looking so much more composed on the ball. Osborn just went to ground in the box under a challenge from Batth, but on initial viewing there looked to be little in it.
Having seen a replay of that Batth challenge it's now clear to see that contact was definitely made on Osborn, but the foul took place just outside the box. Keith Stroud failed to spot that up close.
Wolves getting on the ball a little more now, looking to get Le Fondre involved up top. Very little for the home supporters to feed off at the moment, which perhaps explains the sombre atmosphere inside Molineux.
GOAL! WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS 1-0 NOTTINGHAM FOREST (EBANKS-LANDELL)
Wolves have been second best in the opening 15 minutes or so, but it is the hosts who lead through Ebanks-Landell's headed goal. A free kick into the box was perfectly floated for the centre-back to get on the end of, simply judging the flight of the ball better than O'Grady to head into the ground and home.
CHANCE! Not the easiest of chances but, just like in the opening few minutes of the game, Mills wins a free header inside the Wolves area. This time he decided to go for goal, instead of picking out a teammate, but the angle was against him and Ikeme easily collected.
GOAL DISALLOWED! Brilliant response from Forest, who really don't deserve to be behind. O'Grady was picked out at the back post to tap home following a bright move, yet he was clearly offside and the flag was quickly up. Price picked up a yellow in the build-up to the attack.
Wolves are looking better on the ball since find a rare breakthrough on home soil, but it is still the visitors who are the more composed overall. Freedman will be happy with the way his side have played in the opening quarter of this match, although they do find themselves a goal down.
Ethan Ebanks-Landell's goal 15 minutes in currently separates the two sides at Molineux. Forest have just about edged things, but it is the hosts who lead with a quarter of the game now played.
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The Reds have not really pushed on from their initial positive response after going behind. O'Grady had a goal ruled out and Mills saw his back-post header easily saved, yet there has been little to shout about since then.
Jordan Graham takes on a free kick from 25 yards out, which he swings well over the bar. The youngster does win his side a corner soon after, though, only for a flick-on towards the back post to be cleared away.
YELLOW CARD! Kevin McDonald earns himself a yellow card following a 50-50 challenge in midfield. A little harsh, maybe, but now two Wolves midfielders find themselves sitting on a caution.
O'Grady smashes an attempt over the bar from a loose corner. Just the two shots on target for the visitors, both of which have been simple enough for Ikeme to deal with. Wolves have had just the one on-target attempt, meanwhile, which De Vries failed to keep out.
SAVE! All very sloppy at the moment, with neither side really able to find any momentum. Not been a great deal of action since the offside goal, but De Vries did have to get across to keep out Le Fondre's deflected attempt a few moments ago.
A little under 10 minutes to go before the interval and it is the home side who will now be the happier. Forest, who were lively in the opening quarter of the match, have not offered a great deal since going behind.
A frustrating moment for Forest, as Osborn overhits what should have been a simple pass to Oliveira down the left. The Reds need to find a little momentum again like witnessed early on in the contest.
Some nice work by Mendes, who picks out Osborn around 20 yards out for the midfielder to drive one high over the bar. A little better from Freedman's charges, only for the end product to let them down.
YELLOW CARD! Former Wolves man Mancienne fouls Le Fondre to earn his side's first caution of the evening. Wanderers now the side back on top for the closing stages of this first half.
Some sustained pressure from the hosts comes to nothing, as Forest stand firm at the back to keep out a succession of crosses. Graham has looked very lively over the past few minutes, and he has just fired into the side-netting from a tight angle on his weaker side.
Iorfa does really well up against Oliveira, who has spent large parts of this half out on the Forest left. The Portuguese should have played in Osborn when he had a chance, but in the end his was challenged and any hopes of a shot on goal soon passed him by.
McDonald land really awkwardly after going up for a challenge but, after receiving some treatment, he is fine to continue. Just a minute or so left of this first half at Molineux.
HALF TIME: WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS 1-0 NOTTINGHAM FOREST
So Wanderers hold a one-goal lead at the break thanks to Ethan Ebanks-Landell
's first goal of the season. It was a simple enough opener for the home side, as Graham's well-delivered free kick was nodded home by the defender on the 15-minute mark.
Forest had actually been the better side up until that point, putting together some decent moves and testing Ikeme through Oliveira's 30-yard drive. The Reds did not really do enough to warrant taking the lead, though, which they were made to pay for when Ebanks-Landell got the better of O'Grady to head home soon after.
The response offered by the visitors in the minutes after going behind offered plenty of hope, as for the second time in the match Mills was picked out unmarked to test Ikeme, before O'Grady had a goal rightly ruled out for offside. Forest did very little from that point on, though, meaning Freedman may be tempted to change things around a little.
The only other shot in the second quarter of the match came via Le Fondre, who had the angle against him when firing away but had a deflection to thank for forcing De Vries into making a stop. Not an awful lot between the two Midlands rivals, then, but it is Wanderers who hold a slim advantage at the break.
Kevin McDonald was OK to continue in the final few minutes of the first half, but it remains to be seen whether he will emerge for the second period. Plenty of options available for both managers to choose from.
NOTTINGHAM FOREST SUBS: Evtimov, Hobbs, Trotter, Ward, Williams, Tesche, Blackstock
WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS SUBS: McCarey, Doherty, Coady, Byrne, Wallace, Holt, Afobe
A lot of work for Forest to do in this second half if they are to claim a third Molineux success on the bounce.
RESTART! Forest have won more points from losing positions than any other side in the Championship this term, so this one is far from over as the Reds get this second half underway.
Not a great deal of action at the beginning of this second half. Wolves won a corner which was initially cleared away before going back in, where De Vries was waiting to collect.
Mendes is played in down the right, but his cross into the box is collected by Ikeme at the near post. Good play to get himself into that position, only for the end product to let him down.
Iorfa sends in a fine early cross, which Lichaj was first to meet to head behind. Freedman must surely be thinking about an early change in this second half - things not going his side's way at the moment.
YELLOW CARD! Ebanks-Landell got his head on the corner, which Forest just about deal with through Lansbury. The Forest midfielder then brought down Henry on the charge to pick up a yellow card of his own.
All Wolves now, with star man Graham picking out Price to get a header away. The attempt just about had enough pace on it to take it to De Vries, but it was the simplest of stops. Freedman still yet to make a change.
Henry gets the better of Mills and is able to look up and get a cross into the box, which is well cut out by Mancienne. Wolves knocking on the door for a second at the moment, with this their best spell of the game so far.
Ikeme is forced to turn O'Grady's shot behind goal with a decent stop, but the whistle had already blown for a Lichaj challenge in the build-up to the strike. Forest's best moment of the half.
Wolves have not conceded here in their last two games, remember, and it is clear to see why at the moment. Forest not asking enough questions of their opponents, though, with Freedman now finally readying a change or two.
Very good play by Lichaj, first to win possession and then to run the length of the pitch. The full-back picked out Oliveira at the end of the attack, too, with the forward miscontrolling the ball and the rare opening fizzing out.
NOTTINGHAM FOREST SUB! Chris O'Grady makes way for Jamie Ward. That sub is a good 10 minutes overdue on the basis of this second half, yet the visitors still have 25 minutes to find a way through.
Wolves are left panicking at the back for the first time this half, as Pinillos gets forward and swings in a fine cross from the left. The hosts did well to deal with the danger in the end, but that is certainly a promising sign for the Reds.
Twenty minutes left to play at Molineux, and still just Ebanks-Landell's first-half goal to separate the pair.
Pinillos and Henry clatter heads inside the box, with the Forest man getting the benefit of the doubt and earning his side a free kick. That has only helped increased the volume levels, which have gone up a few notches over the past five minutes or so. A rare home win in sight for Wolves.
Very good work from Edwards ends any hope Wolves had of building an attack down the right. Not been the liveliest second half, although Kenny Jackett
will not be too concerned about the entertainments levels as long as his side gets over the line.
CHANCE! A rare chance in this second half, as Ebanks-Landell glances a header wide of goal from eight yards out. Mills looked to have bundled over Batth just before that headed attempt, but the referee either didn't spot it or felt that it was not worthy of a penalty.
SHOT! Fantastic play by Graham, who shows some quick feet to burst into some space and fire away a decent enough attempt on goal. De Vries was equal to it, yet that was a real piece of quality from the youngster who has certainly made an impression tonight.
NOTTINGHAM FOREST SUBS!
Williams and Blackstock come on in place of Osborn and Mendes for these final 10 minutes. A final roll of the dice for Dougie Freedman
, then, with his side battling to avoid a fifth away defeat on the bounce.
GOAL! WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS 1-1 NOTTINGHAM FOREST (DEXTER BLACKSTOCK)
Blackstock comes off the bench to level things up for Forest. Wolves have been comfortable to the large majority of this second half, but there had been a sense that the visitors were just growing into the match when a corner was converted by the substitute at the back post. Ebanks-Landell caught napping somewhat, as Blackstock drifted in to side-foot the ball into the roof of the net.
WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS SUB! Well that goal sets up an intriguing conclusion to this match. Dougie Freedman must be wandering whether to stick or twist, but it looks very much like it will be the latter of the two. Le Fondre hasn't done a great deal tonight, and he has now been replaced by Afobe.
BLOCK! McDonald's cross is headed behind by Mancienne. The corner is cleared as far as McDonald on the edge of the box, who fires a superb volley on goal which Pinillos header over. That looked destined for the top corner of the net - point-winning block, potentially.
YELLOW CARD! Oliveira loses the ball in the middle of the park before frustratingly lunging in on McDonald. The yellow card is very much secondary here - the free kick is in a nice crossing position 20 yards from goal.
Graham's delivery is not as good this time, with his set-piece delivery drifting straight out of play. One minute of normal time to play at Molineux.
Pinillos is wayward with his attempt, but his hard work was done up the other end when blocking aside that McDonald strike a short while ago. Three more minutes of added time to go.
Forest will probably take the point about now, with Wolves the more likely to add a decisive third. Not quite happened for both teams this evening, but still another 60 seconds to go.
A Lichaj long throw is well defended, but the ball comes back to the full-back down the right. Rather than go to the corner, the ball comes back into the box where it is again cleared away. The visitors' intentions have been made clear.
FULL TIME: WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS 1-1 NOTTINGHAM FOREST
The full-time whistle sounds at Molineux, bringing an end to a game that certainly grew in entertainment as it went on. The point does neither of these sides much good in their hopes of a top-six finish, but the visitors will be the happier of the two.
Ethan Ebanks-Landell headed Wolves ahead 15 minutes in when being left alone to nod home, before Dexter Blackstock
came off the bench to earn Forest a share of the spoils at Molineux. The draw also ends a run of four-successive away defeats for the Reds, who remain a point behind their Midlands rivals in the table.
The concludes Sports Mole's live text coverage of this evening's Championship match, but be sure to join us again tomorrow with a busy schedule of football in the Premier League and Championship. See you then!