The Warmdown: Neves header extends Wolves' unbeaten run
Adama Traore looks to escape three Newcastle players at St. James' Park. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Newcastle United and Wolverhampton Wanderers produced their fifth consecutive 1-1 draw as neither side did enough to earn all three points at St. James' Park

After a first half dominated by the hosts, Jamaal Lascelles put Steve Bruce's side ahead just after the interval as he headed home Ryan Fraser's cross. 

Newcastle's lead lasted 21 minutes before Ruben Neves scored his 20th Wolves goal by heading past Martin Dubravka, who was making his first league appearance of the season. 

The result means Wolves have enjoyed an unbeaten February in the Premier League, a stark contrast to their winless start to 2021. 

  • Neto and Neves bail Wolves out again

While Wolves' last game-and-a-half had given their fanbase a rare cause for optimism, Nuno Espirito Santo's side were poor for the majority of the game at St. James' Park. 

But, as with the trip to Southampton two weeks ago, they were dragged out of trouble by two of their most impressive performers this campaign. Pedro Neto's cross was brilliantly headed in by Neves, who, after failing to score a league goal in 2020, picked up his fifth of 2021. 

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If Player of the Season voting ended tomorrow, Neto and Neves would almost certainly finish as the top two. The 20-year-old winger has enjoyed a breakthrough season in Wolves' faltering front line, while Neves' goals have dug Nuno out of plenty of holes in the last two months. 

With the loss of Raul Jimenez impacting so heavily on Wolves, where they would be without Neto and Neves doesn't bear thinking about. 

  • Makeshift defence emphasises the need for summer additions

For the third game in succession, Wolves started with a back three of Leander Dendoncker, Conor Coady and Romain Saiss. Although this combination has done a job for Nuno in the past, their collective performance today left more questions than answers. 

Newcastle created chance after chance in the first half, as Allan Saint-Maximin beat Dendoncker for fun down the left-hand side. Joe Willock and Joelinton were found free in the area in each half, but they were denied by Rui Patricio and Saiss respectively. 

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Wolves' poor defensive setup finally cost them when Jamaal Lascelles headed in after the backline had repeatedly failed to clear their lines from a Newcastle corner, for the second time at St. James' in two seasons. 

Wanderers have needed an upgrade at centre-back ever since they arrived in the Premier League in 2018, but have prioritised other positions in every window. A big-money defensive signing is a necessity in the summer if Nuno's side are to progress. 

  • Time to drop goalless Jose?

Willian Jose arrived at Molineux in January with a record of a goal every three games throughout his career, but a goalless appearance in the North East means the Brazilian has played eight times for Wolves without finding the back of the net. 

While goals are what a striker will always be judged on, Wolves frontmen have often been redeemed by superb hold up play or work ethic. Unfortunately, Jose has shown neither since winning the game-changing penalty against Arsenal at the start of the month. 

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The 29-year-old was replaced by Fabio Silva on 82 minutes, with the Portuguese making a big impression in his limited time on the field. Silva tracked back to the edge of his own box to track Newcastle runners, and was desperately unlucky not to earn Wolves a stoppage time winner when his close-range header was brilliantly saved by Dubravka. 

Although Tuesday's trip to Manchester City is unlikely to teach Wolves fans anything about whichever striker is chosen, Silva has staked a real claim for starting berth for next Saturday's trip to Aston Villa

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