Wolves 0 Brighton 0
Frustrated Wolves returned refreshed after their trip to Marbella but couldn’t break down relegation-threatened Brighton in the most one-sided game at Molineux.
Diogo Jota hit the woodwork twice as Nuno Espirito Santo’s side dominated throughout and spent virtually all of the match camped inside Brighton’s half, but they were unable to penetrate a massed defence. There was no mistaking the sense of frustration at the end and Wolves fans chanted ‘boring, boring, boring’ and ‘How do you watch this every week?’ in response to Brighton’s negative tactics.
Raul Jimenez, Ruben Neves and substitute Leander Dendoncker all forced saves from Brighton goalkeeper Mat Ryan and Matt Doherty, Joao Moutinho and Jimenez were also off target for the hosts.
The result extended Wolves’ indifferent run against one of their biggest bogey teams, and they have won just four of their 30 League games against the Seagulls, failing to score in five of their last six meetings with them.
Nuno made two changes to the side beaten 3-1 at Southampton in their last outing. Ryan Bennett returned for Romain Saiss in defence and Morgan Gibbs-White was handed only his fifth Premier League start, at the expense of Dendoncker.
The visitors, who had lost five in a row and failed to score in that time, were happy to sit back and soak up the pressure in front of them.
Brighton were forced into an early change when midfielder Davy Propper was forced off with a hamstring injury after only 10 minutes. Beram Kayal replaced him.
Wolves right wing back Doherty had the first real sight of goal in the 18th minute but his angled, rising drive flew just wide after an awful pass out of defence by Brighton centre back Lewis Dunk.
Brighton set up in a 4-5-1 formation with Glenn Murray an isolated figure up front and it looked like they had no intention of breaking forwards.
By the half hour the possession count was 80 per cent to 20 per cent in Wolves’ favour.
Jota went agonisingly close to breaking the deadlock for Wolves, but his angled drive flew inches wide of the far post.
The former Atletico Madrid frontman was again in the thick of things in first-half time added on when his stretching volley hit the top of the bar and flew over following a deflection on Neves’s shot.
The second half started as the first – with Wolves on the attack and in complete control.
But there was a feeling that a change, such as the extra penetration Ruben Vinagre could offer at wing back, could have been made at half-time, rather than the 66th minute it arrived.
Doherty’s looping header was hacked away from near the line by Shane Duffy from Jonny Otto’s cross.
Brighton produced their first threat of any kind when Kayal let fly from some 30 yards and his effort flew a few inches over.
They had another half chance soon after when Duffy’s header sailed wide from Lewis Dunk’s cross.
Wolves piled forward in search of a breakthrough, but they found the gaps difficult to come by against a defence sitting so deep.
Moutinho decided to take matters into his own hands and the Portuguese playmaker’s low drive landed just wide.
Amid a flurry of Wolves corners, Jimenez’s shot from on the ground hit the chest of Ryan, then the £32m record Wolves signing belted a swerving shot wide.
By this time, Vinagre had arrived on the scene, and, with no defensive responsibilities, he at least tried more to push Brighton back.
Dendoncker replaced Gibbs-White in the 72nd minute and it wasn’t long before he was involved in the goalmouth action.
Jota hit the woodwork for the second time in the 73rd minute with a glancing header from Jimenez’s cross which beat Ryan only to hit the inside of the post, with Dendoncker’s effort from the rebound blocked.
Wolves perhaps went closest to scoring with two headers on 75 and 87 minutes.
Willy Boly arrived unmarked to meet Doherty’s cross, but the defender’s powerful effort bulleted wide.
Dendoncker perhaps should have done better when his nodded effort forced a falling save from Ryan on the line after Boly headed Moutinho’s corner back into the danger area.
In between, Neves’s powerful low drive forced Ryan to scramble to his left to smother at the foot of the post.
Wolves continued to try to bash down Brighton’s door and Boly sliced a rising shot comfortably over the bar from a pull back from substitute Adama Traore.
But there was no way through and Wolves were left to reflect on the positives of a sixth home game without defeat in the Premier League and eight in all competitions.
Wolves (3-5-2): Patricio; Bennett, Coady, Boly; Doherty (Traore 83), Neves, Moutinho, Gibbs-White (Dendoncker 72), Jonny (Vinagre 66); Jimenez, Jota.
Substitutes: Ruddy (gk), Cavaleiro, Costa, Saiss.
Brighton (4-5-1): Ryan; Bruno (Bernardo 70), Duffy, Dunk, Bong; March, Stephens, Gross, Propper, Izquierdo; Murray.
Substitutes: Button (gk), Kayal, Locadia, Andone, Johanbakhsh, Burn.
Referee: Craig Pawson