Wolves 3 (McManus-og 17, Sigurdarson 48, Doyle 70)
Middlesbrough 2 (Leadbitter 25, 52)
Wolves came out on top of a five goal thriller with Middlesbrough to keep alive their hopes of beating the drop. The Molineux side refused to buckle against the north easterners despite a controversial equaliser after Stephen McManus had put through his own goal to open the scoring.
Dorus De Vries, Bjorn Sigurdarson and Stephen Hunt came in for the injured trio of Carl Ikeme, Dave Edwards and Bakary Sako, whilst new loan signing Nouah Dicko was named as a substitute.
Boro kicked-off attacking the North Bank end but the first threat came from Wanderers when former Molineux defender George Friend was harshly penalised for a push on Kevin Doyle near the right hand corner of the box. Jamie O’Hara curled in a dangerous looking free-kick but Jonathan Woodgate was there to head clear.
O’Hara was booked for a challenge that left Grant Leadbitter in need of attention before a flowing Wolves move saw Doyle bringing the ball out of defence and finding Sylvan Ebanks-Blake who quickly released David Davis on the right. It looked promising but the midfielder’s low cross was cleared amid claims that Hunt had been floored in the box.
O’Hara took the ball off Leadbitter’s foot as the Boro man was lining up a shot inside the box after Friend had cut in along the by-line. In the visitors next attack De Vries had to turn the ball behind after a cross from the right took a hefty deflection off Kaspars Gorkss.
Justin Hoyte was even closer as he latched on to a half clearance and, from fully 30-yards out, hit a scorching shot that struck the top of the bar and bounced to safety.
Matt Doherty won two tackles in quick succession before forcing a corner that was to lead to Wolves’ opening goal in the 17th minute.
O’Hara’s corner went to the far side where Hunt took possession beating Adam Reach as he ran in and hit a low cross that went in off McManus. The goal was credited to the Boro man although Ebanks-Blake later claimed that he got a touch.
Boro equalised in the 25th minute following another classic example of the need for goalline technology. De Vries made a tremendous save to thwart Lukas Jutkiewicz but the loose ball ran to Leadbitter who hammered it against the underside of the bar.
The ball bounced down and was cleared and the referee played on for a few seconds before he noticed the linesman flagging that it had crossed the line. Replays later showed that it had in fact bounced on the line and not behind it.
Andre Bikey was yellow carded for a foul on Sigurdarson before Friend tripped Doherty a yard outside the Boro box and virtually on the by-line. O’Hara took the free-kick but his curling effort was saved by Jason Steele underneath the crossbar.
Friend carved out another chance when he pulled the ball back for Reach who shot narrowly wide, and then Ebanks-Blake hit a first time volley high over the bar after Gorkss had planted a long ball into the box.
Mustapha Carayol went close as he attempted to lob the ball over De Vries but the keeper managed to get a touch, deflecting it onto the bar before collecting.
The end to end action continued in the dying minutes of the half with Hunt shooting over as he swivelled onto Doherty’s low cross before De Vries saved from Jutkiewicz in the opposite area.
Half-Time: Wolves 1 Boro 1
Just 24 seconds after the restart, Ebanks-Blake hit an angled drive that Steele turned into the side netting.
But the respite for the visitors was brief as a quality piece of football resulted in Wolves going back into the lead after 48 minutes. Roger Johnson played the ball out of defence to Hunt who, in turn, picked out Ebanks-Blake.
The striker backheeled the ball into Sigurdarson’s path and the Icelandic striker ghosted between two defenders as he ran into the area and sidestepped Steel before planting the ball into the empty net.
Again, the lead proved to be short-lived as Leadbitter scored his second of the afternoon just four minutes later with a low, 25-yard effort that crept just inside the post.
He nearly completed his hat-trick after another two minutes play but this time his strike, from virtually the same position, went inches wide.
The Boro goal led a charmed life as Wolves looked to regain the advantage. Sigurdarson crossed from the left and Hunt picked his spot only for Steele to pull off a tremendous save. The loose ball ran to Doyle and his shot was cleared off the line by Friend with the rebound going back to Doyle whose second attempt forced another fine save from the keeper.
The corner conceded, taken by O’Hara, was played short to Hunt and his chip into the box was headed away from a packed six-yard box by Leadbitter.
Claims for a penalty when Friend appeared to handle a Doyle cross were ignored by the officials although it happened in full view of the linesman.
The home side kept up the head of steam with O’Hara seeing a shot take a deflection before flying wide, and Steele performing more heroics to save from Sigurdarson after Jack Robinson had delivered a low centre.
Wolves went 3-2 up in the 70th minute as Johnson headed on Doherty’s long throw to Doyle who nodded beyond Steele’s dive and into the corner of the net.
Boro had used all three of their substitutes before Karl Henry replaced O’Hara for the final 15 minutes.
The home fans held their breath as Leadbitter floated a free-kick into the box and Sigurdarson, facing his own goal, managed to deflect the ball behind albeit uncomfortably close to the far post.
After Davis was booked for tripping Sammy Ameobi, further substitutions followed with Danny Batth going on for Doyle and Stephen Ward for Hunt who was suffering from cramp.
Just before the end, Jutkiewicz wasn’t far away from giving Boro a point with a drive from 20-yards that De Vries was relieved to see go wide.
But the afternoon, and the three points, belonged to Wolves.
Wolves: De Vries, Doherty, Robinson, Davis, Gorkss, Johnson, Sigurdarson O’Hara (Henry 76), Doyle (capt) (Batth 81), Ebanks-Blake, Hunt (Ward 86).
Unused subs: Hammill, Dicko, Doumbia, McCarey.
Bookings: O’Hara (6 – foul), Davies (80 – foul).
Boro: Steele, Bikey (Zemmama 74), McManus, Leadbitter, Jutkiewicz, Hoyte, Reach (Dyer 62), Friend, Carayol (Ameobi 62), Woodgate (capt), McDonald.
Unused subs: Leutwiler, Hines, Miller, McEachran.
Booking: Bikey (27 – foul).
Referee: T. Bates.