Wolves failed to win in a frustrating evening at Molineux, in a 2-2 draw against Hull with a debut goal from Oskar Rasmussen, an own goal from Ryan Bennet and a penalty a piece at Molineux.
Following Cardiff’s last minute efforts on Monday night to equalise against Sheffield United, Wolves went into the game with a five point lead, but with Cardiff having a game in hand.
Nuno was forced into a whole host of changes following the two sendings off and a mentally and physically taxing game against Middlesborough.
Alfred N’Diaye and Roderick Miranda came in for to the defence and midfield respectively for the suspended Ruben Neves, and Matt Doherty. It was a surprise to see the inclusion of Miranda, and a big snub for club captain Danny Batth who was left on the bench.
There is a big question following this game about both of their futures and whether they will be Wolves players come the start of next season. Afobe was rested because of the excursions at the riverside stadium, with Diogo Jota returning from injury.
Hull started with former Wolves striker Nuha Dicko who received a warm welcome from the Molineux bumper crowd, when he was substituted late on. Nigel Atkins made six changes from their previous game calling this game a free hit with his focus being on the relegation dog-fight match against QPR at the weekend.
Wolves started well with a Romain Saiss header, from a Barry Douglas free kick, bringing an outstanding save from the Hull keeper.
In the opening half an hour, although Wolves were not at their best, they were in control of the game which culminated in Wolves taking the lead on the 18th minute.
Wolves took the lead through a penalty after some good interplay between Cavaleiro and Diogo Jota who was then brought down in the area, the referee had no hesitation in awarding Wolves the penalty.
The decision incensed the Hull bench who felt that the contact was minimal but the Hull defender by going to ground in the box was asking the referee to make a decision. Diogo Jota was able to compose himself to slot the penalty home for a deserved lead and Jota’s fourteenth goal of the season.
All the signs were there for Wolves to coast to victory but a combination of fatigue, a resilient Hull fight back and complacency made for a more complicated game than Wolves seemingly expected.
Hull equalised just before half time with another penalty, with Wolves being the architects of their own downfall in many ways.
In one of the worst sequences of play for Wolves this season Helder Costa’s stray pass backwards towards his own goal gave the ball away to Meyler before Miranda pulled him to the ground with the referee instantly awarding Hull a penalty. Meyler easily converted his spot-kick beating Ruddy leaving it 1-1 at half time.
Miranda was subsequently substituted at half-time with Benik Afobe being brought on, switching Ivan Cavaleiro to right wing back. Nuno has been rightly lauded this season for his tactical intelligence and attention to detail, but one area of his tactical toolbox has let Wolves down this season; implementing a Plan B.
Whether enforced or by choice, changes to formation and tactics have rarely worked for Wolves this season. This will come into much greater importance in the Premier League where Wolves will not win every single game and come up against better quality defences.
The game became scrappy after the break with Hull drawing a good reaction save from John Ruddy, tipping it onto the post. Hull capitalised on Wolves’s lack of urgency taking the lead on the 78th minute with an own goal from Ryan Bennett.
Bennet couldn’t have done anything more with the low cross, with Frazier Campbell waiting to tap it in right behind him at the far post.
The Hull lead sparked Wolves into life with a spirited come-back. Nuno to his credit acted upon the unbalanced nature of the team formation and replaced Jota with Danish youngster Oskar Rasmussen to right wing back for his league debut, pushing Cavaleiro further forward.
Rasmussen equalised for Wolves in the 83rd minute with a bullet header into the bottom corner from a Barry Douglas cross for a dream debut. This was Barry Douglas’ fourteenth assist this season, topping the championship chart for assists.
With promotion rivals Fulham and Aston Villa both winning in their respective fixtures the gap to third is now eleven points. Wolves will go into one of the biggest games of the season against newly crowned Manager of the season Neil Warnock in Cardiff on Friday night in front of the Sky cameras hoping for revenge having lost to Cardiff earlier on in the season.
With Doherty and Neves to return Wolves will hopefully be more rested and better balanced than what was on show on Tuesday night and bring their promotion three points closer.