Memory Match: Wolves 0 Arsenal 2

Unlucky In The Extreme But The Tide Soon Turned

For obvious reasons, we don’t often spotlight Wolves defeats in this particular feature but can perhaps point to this one as a catalyst on the way to the club winning the League Championship for the first time.

Roy Swinbourne tests the Arsenal defence in the League meeting at Molineux on January 16, 1954.

The game was played 65 years ago this month and was therefore not far past the mid-point of the epic title battle with Albion.

It was a story of Wolves misfortune and by no means represented a case of a drop-off in the pace – indeed, maybe the battering they mounted on the Gunners goal helped them properly into their stride for the 15 League games that remained.

On another afternoon, Stan Cullis’s would have scored two or three because Roy Swinbourne (twice), Johnny Hancocks and Ron Flowers all struck the woodwork while they and their team-mates were also left ruing the excellence of Arsenal keeper Jack Kelsey.

Mid-table Arsenal had no such problems in front of goal and pinched the lead in the ninth minute through Jimmy Logie, his provider Cliff Holton looking suspiciously offside in the build-up.

This was a testing game for Wolves in as much as they had to reshuffle defensively. Although Bert Williams was back after missing three matches through injury, Bill Shorthouse lost his ever-present record for the season, so Billy Wright to centre-half for only the second time – the first being against Stoke the previous spring.

While Albion were leapfrogging back to the top of the table by winning 1-0 at Tottenham in another meeting of West Midlands and North London, Wolves just couldn’t find a way back to level terms.

And the killer blow was struck five minutes from time when Doug Lishman flicked home Arsenal’s second to confirm that this was very much a winter blip for their hosts, whose plight worsened for several minutes when Hancocks – the club’s only remaining ever-present – went off for stitches to his eyebrow.

It may have been another wrong turn at a time when Wolves were having trouble making home advantage just that but improvement, major improvement, was just around the corner.

Of their next 12 home League matches, stretching into the following season. Wolves won ten, drew one and lost only one, against Middlesbrough.

Bert Williams looks on as acting centre-half Billy Wright moves across to clear. The gate at Molineux was over 45,000.

They didn’t put together any substantial unbeaten runs but their form at Molineux on the road saw them chase down Albion and finish champions by four points.


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