29 August 2023

Matt Doherty at the double as Wolves east past Blackpool

29 August 2023

Matt Doherty marked his second Wolves debut with two goals and Nathan Fraser scored on his first senior appearance as they brushed aside League One Blackpool 5-0 to reach the third round of the Carabao Cup.

Sasa Kalajdzic doubled his Wolves tally days after getting off the mark at Everton and Fabio Silva capped a fine display with his first goal for the club since May 2021 before the popular Doherty, back at the ground where he spent a decade before leaving in 2020, scored two in seven minutes.

Substitute Fraser had set up the second of Doherty’s goals and the 18-year-old then got in on the scoring himself, beating goalkeeper Richard O’Donnell with a deflected effort late on.

With Matheus Nunes trying to force through a move to Manchester City, Goncalo Guedes heading back to Benfica on loan and Daniel Podence seemingly on his way out, Wolves need reinforcements in the final days of the transfer window but there were positive signs at Molineux.

Blackpool, without a goal in four matches since beating Derby 2-0 in the last round and deprived of cup-tied striker Jordan Rhodes and the injured Shayne Lavery, twice struck the frame of the goal but were comfortably second best.

Gary O’Neil made nine changes from Saturday’s 1-0 Premier League win at Everton, even including 15-year-old Emilio Ballard-Matthews among the substitutes, and will have been pleased with the attacking intent of those afforded an opportunity.

Kalajdzic, whose first season at Molineux was ruined by a torn ligament suffered on his debut, opened his Wolves account in the 87th minute at Goodison Park and needed only 10 minutes of this match to double it, bouncing a shot in after Pablo Sarabia’s effort was charged down by O’Donnell.

Wolves were then guilty of complacency against goal-shy Blackpool, loose in possession at the back and almost punished as Kenny Dougall saw a shot from 20 yards come back off the inside of the post.

But Silva settled nerves in the 25th minute as Sarabia ran forward from midfield and slipped the ball through for the 21-year-old to beat O’Donnell with a powerful finish.

After his last strike against West Brom in May 2021, Silva went a full season without a Wolves goal and then spent time on loan with Anderlecht and PSV Eindhoven, but O’Neil will hope his positive display here is a sign the former club-record signing, still only 21, is settling in at last.

There was a blow early in the second half for the hosts when 20-year-old Joe Hodge, making his first appearance of the season, pulled up clutching his hamstring when breaking into the box, with 19-year-old Harvey Griffiths handed a debut as his replacement.

The third goal came on the hour, with Sarabia again involved as he latched on to a deflected ball through and lifted in a cross from the left for Republic of Ireland full-back Doherty, back at Molineux after spells with Tottenham and Atletico Madrid, to head in off the underside of the crossbar.

Moments later, Doherty was at it again. The 18-year-old Fraser, on for Kalajdzic, beat the offside trap down the right and then tapped the ball back for Doherty to run at goal and beat O’Donnell at his near post.

At the other end Blackpool skipper Callum Connolly struck the crossbar with a free-kick but Wolves and Fraser had the final word six minutes from time.

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