Irwin inspirational as Wolves stroll to victory

Last updated : 18 August 2002 By Dave Burgess

Denis Irwin was to be the inspiration behind the most convincing 3-0 victory you will see in a long time.

The right-back, with a combination of solid defending and measured passing, was already leaving his mark on the game prior to the free-kick that brought him his first goal in a Wolves shirt.

The game had started with a real bang as Blake was in the right place to punish an error from the Burnley keeper after he spilt a ferocious shot from Cameron who in turn had been set up by Miller on the left.

In fact the goal came so quickly that my mate missed it as he was still making his way to his seat in the Jack Harris!

Just six minutes later and Burnley were reeling further as ex-Wolves midfielder, Paul Cook, was sent off for a late challenge on Alex Rae. I was amazed to see a straight red card appear from the referee’s top pocket but not disappointed, as it was to effectively signal the end of the threat from Burnley.

Colin Cameron was to find himself on the end of more over-zealous tackling from Burnley and had to be substituted after just 20 minutes. However, the replacement wasn’t too bad – Paul Ince!

Incey was welcomed by a rapturous ovation from the Molineux faithful. In fact only minutes earlier, when he stepped off the bench to do some warm up exercises, all the Wolves fans in the Jack Harris and Billy Wright let the player know how pleased they were to see him in a Wolves shirt for the first time.

Ince’s legs seemed to be everywhere, reaching out to win many balls back on the halfway line. Ivar was also in fine form making some surging runs that, with better finishing, might have seen him get on the scoresheet.

Although it was comfortable, a second goal was always needed to calm the fears of a slip-up.

A penalty awarded for deliberate handball seemed like the perfect opportunity.

With Deano on the bench, no one was sure who would take it. To my reckoning I think that Butler made a captain’s decision as he ran over to Miller, who’s shot had been blocked, and gave him the responsibility.

Lacking in goals, and perhaps confidence, it seemed the perfect opportunity to expel the ghosts but as soon as the shot was saved people were thinking that Irwin would have been better suited to the task.

Perhaps it was putting more pressure on Miller to get that elusive goal and that missing a penalty might further set him back in terms of confidence.

A comical bit of shooting from a corner almost resulted in a second before half time when a poor header from Butler was blocked and returned to the captain and his second poor attempt, from the boot this time, was going wide before it was cleared.

Half time Wolves 1 Burnley 0.

Just minutes in to the second half Wolves won a free-kick on the edge of the Burnley box and Denis Irwin lined up ready to take the chance. Burnley recognised the danger and put a man back on the line to try to curb the threat.

However, an absolute beauty by Irwin was unstoppable and literally lifted the roof off the ground with the applause.

After that the game sort of faded in the humidity and heat of the August afternoon.

Both teams made substitutions, Deano replacing Miller and Cooper coming on for Rae.

Burnley seemed to have settled for a two-goal defeat, as they seemed to channel more effort into defending rather than attacking the Wolves goal. They did have one chance when Oakesy spilt a high ball under challenge from Taylor and the ball was turned goalwards by one of the Burnley subs but Lescott was in the right place to hook the ball off the line and away to safety.Towards the end as people were drifting out, a mazy run by Cooper went unchallenged allowing the midfielder to slot the ball home with the outside of his left foot.

Full time Wolves 3 Burnley 0

Seeing the stats after the match, the dominance and margin of victory was as convincing as you are ever likely to see.

True, Burnley weren’t the best team we’ll play this season, and they did play for 82 minutes with 10-men but they seemed to be lacking a bit of spirit. Perhaps the effects of the ITV digital collapse have hit them hard too. They bought a poor number of fans to Molineux, and seemed well short of the team they were when we played, and beat them, twice last season.

As for Wolves, things seem to be getting better by the game. The midfield is looking strong, the passing coming on and there seems to be a renewed purpose for all the players. The introduction of Irwin has bought an assuredness to the defence, Ivar has been great and when Incey is match fit he’ll be awesome.

Competition for places is hot and no one is taking their selection for granted.

After 3 matches against, with respect, ‘ordinary’ opposition, 7 points is a decent return. Fortress Molineux is off and running and the team are looking slick.

However, next week at Derby, we get our first real test.

We get to see how good we are against the likes of Christie, Ravanelli, Lee and Poom. The confidence will be high and if no mistakes are made and chances can be taken then there is no reason why the unbeaten start to the season can’t be maintained.

The future’s bright – the future’s Gold and Black!

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