Wolves 1 (Sako 70)
Cardiff City 2 (Campbell 20, 67)
Despite a spirited second half fightback, Wolves lost out to League leaders Cardiff City on a bitterly cold Sunday afternoon at Molineux to take the team’s winless run to 12 games.
Roger Johnson returned to the side as part of a three man central defence, Matt Doherty made his full League debut at right-back, and Tongo Doumbia returned in midfield. From the team that started at Barnsley in midweek, Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, Dave Edwards and Kevin Foley all dropped down to the bench.
City kicked-off attacking the South Bank end and Peter Whittingham got in the first goal attempt of the game with a 20-yard drive that was way off target. For Wolves, Björn Sigurdarson tried his luck with a shot on the run that was both high and wide.
Kaspars Gorkss was admonished by the referee when he caught Craig Bellamy with a late centre circle challenge. Then there was a moment of danger after 16th minutes as Frazier Campbell turned cleverly in the home area and was lining up a shot when Doherty made a timely tackle.
Matthew Connolly ran down the right flank and squared a pass to Aron Gunnarsson who helped the ball into the path of Whittingham on the edge of the ‘D’ and his shot hit a defender and looped over the bar.
Cardiff’s pressure paid off in the 20th minute when Mark Hudson flicked Gunnarsson’s long throw on into the six-yard box where the unmarked Campbell had the easiest of tasks in heading home.
Doherty was booked for a foul on Andrew Taylor before, in a rare home attack, Bakary Sako was yards wide with a header from Sigurdarson’s cross from the left.
Gunnarsson lofted the ball over the bar from a good position after Bellamy’s corner hadn’t been cleared as City continued to dominate possession.
Five minutes before the break came Wanderers best chance of the half as Sigurdarson cut in from the right and hit a low cross that fell to Sako. But the winger failed to make good contact with the ball and his right foot shot trickled wide.
Half-Time: Wolves 0 Cardiff 1
Dean Saunders changed his formation at the start of the new half sending on Kevin Doyle and Ebanks-Blake for Danny Batth and Doumbia, reverting to 4-4-2.
But Cardiff still went close to doubling their advantage as Doherty got a timely foot in to rob Gunnarsson of a clear shot at goal before the linesman’s flag cancelled out a Bellamy strike.
Gunnarsson’s long-throw into the area was headed out by Johnson to Whittingham whose low shot was parried by Carl Ikeme. The ball bounced up and Bellamy lashed it into the net from close in but he had run into an offside position. Ikeme also needed treatment after being inadvertently caught in the face during the incident.
Whittingham was yellow carded for a trip on Doyle who was in full flight before, in the 56th minute, Wolves won their first and only corner of the afternoon which was taken by Jamie O’Hara with Doyle getting in a header that was cleared.
Almost immediately Sigurdarson sent over a cross that Doyle tried to get a head on but was crowded out as he stooped down to try and make contact.
City keeper David Marshall held on to a dangerous cross from Sigurdarson as both Doyle and Ebanks-Blake ran in before a great ball out of defence by Karl Henry found Sako who immediately played it wide for Sigurdarson. The Icelander fired over a cross that Doyle made a connection with but his header flew straight into the arms of Marshall.
Midway through the half Cardiff took advantage of Wolves not making their possession count to go two up as Campbell beat Ikeme to Bellamy’s free-kick and nodded home into the empty net.
It didn’t take long for Wanderers to post a response as they hit back within three minutes. Doyle was fouled right on the 18-yard line by Ben Turner and Sako drilled the resulting free-kick through the wall, helped by a deflection, for his ninth goal of the campaign (pictured).
Foley came on in place of Doherty for the final minutes shortly before Ebanks-Blake had the chance of grabbing an equalising goal.
Sako went on a blistering run from the edge of his own area to the left of the City box. He delivered a cross which fell for Ebanks-Blake at the far post. But the ball came at the striker at pace and at a difficult height and his shot bounced up off the floor and over the bar. He would still have backed himself to have converted the chance and showed his frustration by lashing out at the empty net after the miss.
There was little to trouble either keeper in the ten minutes of normal time and six of added as Cardiff held out to further their promotion challenge whilst Wolves remained rooted in the relegation zone.
Wolves: Ikeme, Doherty (Foley 78), Robinson, Henry (capt), Batth (Ebanks-Blake 45), Gorkss, Johnson, O’Hara, Sigurdarson, Doumbia (Doyle 45), Sako.
Unused subs: De Vries, Edwards, Davis, Ward.
Booking: Doherty (25 – foul).
Cardiff: Marshall, Taylor, Hudson (capt) (McNaughton 76), Turner, Whittingham, Cowie (Mutch 81), Conway, Connolly, Gunnarsson, Campbell (Helguson 82), Bellamy.
Unused subs: McNaughton, Noone, Mason, Lewis.
Booking: Whittingham (55 – foul).
Referee: S. Attwell.
West Bromwich Albion under 18s 1 Wolves 2 (Stringer-Moth, Dell).