WOLVES 1 TOWN 3
Chris Powell’s Town side recorded back-to-back victories courtesy of a superb win at high-flying Wolves, with new loan man Grant Holt playing a pivotal role.
In the process, Town continued its dominance at Molineux – a ground it has not lost at since November 1988.
Holt got assists for both of Town’s first-half goals, scored by wingers Harry Bunn and Sean Scannell, before Conor Coady put Town three up early in the second-half.
Wolves got a goal back through winger Bakary Sako, but Town held firm to record its second away win of the season.
Powell was bold in his selection ahead of the game, changing his team’s shape from the weekend 3-5-2 to a 4-3-3 formation in the absence of injured skipper Lee Peltier. Out of the side went top scorer Nahki Wells and in came loan recruit Grant Holt to lead the line, with Sean Scannell also coming into the side.
Town survived a hairy moment just 20 seconds into the game when Joel Lynch’s clearance was charged down by Nouha Dicko. The diminutive Wolves striker was by far and away the home side’s main threat and he drive down the right before crossing for new loan signing Yannick Sagbo, who thankfully dragged his shot wide from 20 yards.
Wolves skipper Sam Ricketts, a full back with Premier League experience, was also impressive and he went even closer as the hosts made a strong start. Just six minutes in, he cut infield and struck Smithies’ near post with a good left footed effort, with the ball bouncing to safety.
Town had to work hard with the high-flying hosts pressing; Jonathan Hogg covering the ground in typical fashion on his 150th League start. There were flashes on the break, with Bunn typically direct on the left and Jacob Butterfield getting into advanced positions to try his luck.
It was Dicko who had the next big chance in the 12th minute, though, when Kevin McDonald slid a pass down the side of Lynch for his teammate to chase into the area. With the angle narrowing, Alex Smithies did very well to block the eventual shot with his legs.
Sagbo was having a mixed debut for the hosts; after spurning the earlier chance, he put his next shot into orbit after Ricketts had pulled the ball back on the overlap.
Then came Town’s first big chance – and the first goal. Holt, who wasn’t giving the home defence a moment’s rest, got side by side with centre back Richard Stearman as Tommy Smith knocked a ball towards the corner. Holt outmuscles his opponent before smashing the ball into the area – where Bunn had drifted infield perfectly to volley the ball past Carl Ikeme from 12 yards. It was the former Manchester City man’s third goal in the last four away games.
That goal rocked the hosts and Town pressed forward, but Smithies had to show real bravery at the other end to smother the ball from a dangerous Bakary Sako corner.
Town hit back, with Butterfield robbing McDonald of the ball and playing a smart one-two with Hogg before shooting; Ikeme saving low to his right side.
The Terriers then extended their lead to stun Molineux just six minutes before the interval. Holt did really well again, getting the better of another 50-50 to prod the ball into the area for Sean Scannell. In space, the winger took aim before firing a low shot towards goal that clipped centre back Danny Batth and totally fooled Ikeme at his near post.
Wolves still had a massive chance to get a goal back before the half when Dicko wriggled free of Lynch once again; he drew Smithies before slipping a pass back to Sako, who blasted wide of the gaping target with his weaker right foot.
Town had the first chance of the second-half, with Butterfield’s smashing left-footed half volley testing Ikeme down to his right side.
Conor Coady showed him exactly how to beat Ikeme a few minutes later. Bunn did excellently to cross from the left and when a Wolves player headed the ball to Coady, he steadied himself and curled an absolute beauty around Ikeme and into the far corner from 25 yards out!
Wolves had lots of the ball after the third as you might expect, but Town’s speedy attack still carried real threat on the break. Just before the hour Bunn gave Wolves a reminder of that fact, picking up Holt’s knock-down and driving infield before unleashing a useful shot that forced Ikeme into action once more.
Town were looking comfortable in defence, but Wolves got a goal back with 20 minutes remaining to rejuvenate the home faithful. A ball into the Town area saw powerful winger Sako power past Jack Robinson and right onto Smithies’ goal, who could do nothing as he smashed the ball inside the near post to reduce the arrears.
Wolves had plenty of shots towards the end of the game, but Smithies did everything he had to very well and the home side missed the target to compound their difficult evening.
Town’s team (4-3-3):
Alex Smithies; Jack Robinson, Joel Lynch, Mark Hudson (c), Tommy Smith; Conor Coady, Jacob Butterfield, Jonathan Hogg (Murray Wallace, 90); Harry Bunn, Grant Holt (Jonathan Stead, 79), Sean Scannell (Paul Dixon, 90)
Joe Murphy, Danny Ward, Nahki Wells, Philip Billing