Wolves lack cutting edge against Brighton to turn a hard-fought point into three

Matheus Cunha (right) - Wolves lack cutting edge against Brighton to turn a hard-fought point into three

Gary O’Neil has disclosed that his Wolverhampton Wanderers players have been wearing daylight glasses in the search for marginal gains. The innovative idea, however, was not sufficient to provide enough of an additional edge to turn a hard-fought draw into victory at the Amex Stadium.

O’Neil believed his side created the better opportunities in a game of limited chances but their failure to cap a determined performance with a goal only underlined the manager’s desire to bring in a new forward this month.

The return of Pedro Neto for his first start since suffering a hamstring injury in October provided a lift but the Portuguese winger’s presence in a central role illustrated the limited options available to his manager.

Pedro Neto (L) - Wolves lack cutting edge against Brighton to turn a hard-fought point into three
Pedro Neto (left) was a constant menace on the break for Wolves - Getty Images/Mike Hewitt

“I used him as a nine today, I’m trying everyone in the nine role, we have a new number nine every week,” O’Neil said.

“I thought it could have been better. We didn’t quite get the first pass at times and him [Neto] and Matheus Cunha weren’t quite able to put a finishing touch on some of the moves we produced, but on another day I am sure they would get a goal each. “I’m very pleased. Pedro was good. Initially it was just for today, so we’ll see. The No 9 is a tricky one at the moment. We will just have to be creative about how we go about things and hopefully we can do something in the window that can help us in that area. But until then we will work hard to maximise what we have.”

O’Neil, whose side are now unbeaten in six games, confirmed that included making the most of fresh ideas off the pitch. “Obviously there isn’t too much daylight at the moment,” the Wolves manager said, explaining the players’ use of daylight glasses.

“Especially in evening games, when it gets dark it may feel like it’s time to get ready for bed, but we need to be alert. It’s to try to help the boys to be ready to go and I believe there are some health benefits. So trying to make these marginal gains around the place is really important.”

Roberto De Zerbi, the Brighton head coach, was also forced to watch his side fall short in front of goal. The 16-day break since their previous outing may not have helped and James Milner, who made his 633rd Premier League appearance to move ahead of Ryan Giggs and second behind Gareth Barry in the all-time list, admitted they lacked spark.

James Milner (L) - Wolves lack cutting edge against Brighton to turn a hard-fought point into three
James Milner (left) overtook Ryan Giggs to go second outright on the Premier League's all-time appearance list - Getty Images/Glyn Kirk

Nonetheless, De Zerbi insisted his side deserved to win instead of dropping more home points. “I’m disappointed with the result,” he said.

“We played well enough to win and we created enough chances to score. In the first half we created chances and they had just one shot from 25 yards. “If we analyse the result we have to say it wasn’t a good break [since their last game]. If we analyse the quality of the play I think it was a good break. We played against Wolves and they are a good team. They have good players and have qualities in attack that can put any team in a difficult situation.”

Facundo Buonanotte spurned the best chance of the first half when his close-range header was cleared off the line by Wolves midfielder Tommy Doyle after Danny Welbeck had flicked on Pascal Gross’s corner. Neto came closest to making the breakthrough with a 25-yard effort but it was a clash between Brighton’s Billy Gilmour and Cunha that provided an edge to the first half.

Cunha was clearly aggrieved Gilmour was not punished for blocking his forward run in support of Neto but passed up the chance to deliver the perfect response immediately after the restart when he shot at goalkeeper Luke Steele from close range before directing a second effort over the bar.

The miss felt it could be costly, particularly as Brighton then settled to regain control of possession. An excellent piece of defending by Nelson Semedo prevented Joao Pedro from testing Jose Sa and Wolves captain Max Kilman was relieved his attempt to block Jack Hinshelwood’s cross deflected away off a post.

Not that it was one way. Wolves continued to look dangerous on the counter-attack and Steele had to be alert once again to cut out Neto’s driven cross with a one-handed save. Yet while there was certainly a greater urgency to both teams’ play in the second half, both defences remained resolute.

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