Mark Robins reckoned the real Jermaine Beckford stepped forward as Huddersfield Town clinched a crucial comeback win at Molineux.
The manager had urged to on-loan Leicester striker to knuckle down and show his Premier League pedigree in the build-up to this big clash in the Black Country. Click on the link below to view a gallery from the game.
Beckford responded with a slick late show, coming off the bench as part of a bold double substitution by Robins and scoring twice to seal a key three points in the battle for Championship survival.
Beckford bagged two goals in three minutes and Town were helped as Wolves imploded, with combative midfielder Jamie O’Hara red carded for grabbing the throat of Keith Southern, introduced at the same time as Beckford for a first appearance in 17 games following an Achilles tendon injury.
“You’re not fit to wear the shirt,” sang the Wolves fans as their side, who dropped down from the Premier League last season, slid back into the relegation zone and Town climbed to 19th, two points above the trapdoor.
Amazingly, they are just three points off mid-table, but nobody could say safety is assured, such is the tightness and unpredictability of this division.
What is certain is that if Town can reproduce this kind of character and commitment over their remaining four games, which start at another relegation rival Blackburn tomorrow, they’ll have a great chance of avoiding a return to League I a year after promotion.
This was a really solid all-round team performance, but Sean Scannell deserves special mention.
He used his pace and power to claim a fine 27th-minute equaliser, bursting in from the left touchline to shake off the attentions of two opponents and shoot past keeper Dorus De Vries.
Scannell continued to torment Wolves, winning the 68th-minute corner from which Beckford fired Town in front after De Vries could only parry James Vaughan’s header, then playing a great through-ball between centre-backs Roger Johnson and Kaspars Gorkss which Beckford gleefully made the most of with an assured finish.
Just three minutes before Beckford notched his first, Johnson had wasted a glorious opportunity to put Wolves in front, firing over the bar from an inviting position after his side had bossed the opening phase of the second half.
They’d done the same in the first, flying out of the blocks to go in front just four minutes in, when Stephen Ward steered home Kevin Doyle’s cross in a move initiated by Icelandic striker Bjorn Sigurdarson, the half-brother of former Town and Wolves midfielder Joey Gudjonsson.
Molineux, always an invigorating venue, was a sea of old gold and a cauldron of noise, but it was the excellent Town following whose voices came to the fore as the game progressed.
Robins tweaked his formation, moving Adam Clayton from the tip of the central five to the right and Neil Danns into the centre, and Town took a firm grip, just as they did after the boss replaced midfielder Danns with Beckford and exchanged the industry of Oscar Gobern for that of Southern in the 63rd minute.
O’Hara’s red card strengthened Town’s hand, and they now have two doubles (over Burnley and Wolves) and seven away wins.