Gillingham 1 (C. McDonald 90+2)
A Cody McDonald goal 30 seconds from the end of added time condemned Wolves to an undeserved defeat against Gillingham at a gale swept Priestfield Stadium.
Kenny Jackett’s men had dominated play but failed to create many clear cut chances and the chance of going back to the top of League One disappeared into the Kent night as McDonald forced the ball home after the Wolves defence failed to clear a Jake Hessenthaler corner.
There were five changes to the visitors starting line-up. Out were the injured Ethan Ebanks-Landell and Carl Ikeme, the suspended Richard Stearman, and Leigh Griffiths and Jake Cassidy who were named as substitutes.
made his League debut in goal, and in came George Elokobi, James Henry, Scott Golbourne and Kevin Doyle.
Gillingham kicked-off attacking the town end of the ground which was open to the elements and housed the hardy souls that had made the long trip down from Wolverhampton.
After an early Wolves attack had been repulsed, Craig Fagan got in the first shot of the game – a low curling effort that was comfortably saved by McCarey.
Wolves replied with long-range efforts from Bakary Sako and Samuel Ricketts both of which were wide of Stuart Nelson’s left-hand upright.
A cross from Henry presented Doyle with a chance but, at full stretch, the striker could only divert the ball into the arms of the keeper.
A long throw from Charlie Lee was cleared but it was Wolves that were enjoying most of the attacking play and three Henry corners in quick succession kept the home defence on their toes.
Sako sliced wide as he tried to convert a Kevin McDonald cross that had bisected the home rear-guard, and then Danny Batth had to intervene after a lucky bounce opened up an opportunity for Cody McDonald.
Steven Gregory was lucky to get away with just a rebuke from the referee after a challenge that flattened Michael Jacobs, before Doyle hooked a Sako cross into the path of McDonald whose bouncing volley flew straight to Nelson.
The keeper then made a fine save from a Jacobs drive. The ball squirmed from his grasp and Dave Edwards couldn’t make the necessary connection to convert although, by this time, the flag had gone up for offside.
In the 40th minute Leon Legge almost gifted Wolves the lead as he sliced a Golbourne centre across the face of his own goal but, at the break, for all of Wolves’ pressing, the scoreboard remained blank.
Half-Time: Gillingham 0 Wolves 0
In the early minutes of the second-half Danny Kedwell for Gillingham and Jacobs had shots that went over and Sako saw his fierce effort bounce behind off a defender for an unproductive corner.
In the 55th minute Wolves had McCarey to thank as the keeper made a great save to keep out a low shot from McDonald who had a clear sight of goal.
Joe Martin then missed a through ball which ran through to Doyle. He backheeled the ball to Henry who made a good connection only for the wind to take the sting out of his shot allowing Nelson a relatively comfortable save.
Griffiths replaced Henry after the game had passed the hour mark and, for Gillingham, the giant figure of Bayo Akinfenwa took over from Fagan.
Nelson did well to cut out a driven cross from Jacobs before Cassidy became the second change for Wolves when he replaced Doyle.
A Jacobs shot was saved by Nelson but Kedwell was inches away from giving Gillingham a shock lead as his angled shot came back off the inside of the post before being cleared.
Nelson made a good save from a Griffiths header after a Sako cross but it wouldn’t have counted anyway as the offside flag was raised, and then Ricketts hooked the ball back into the goalmouth after another Sako cross. There was a brief scramble before the home defence cleared their lines.
There were two minutes of added time and with the seconds ticking away Gillingham grabbed the winner to send the home fans wild with delight and leave the travelling fans with nothing to look forward to except a long trip home and a feeling of bitter disappointment.
Gillingham: Nelson, Martin, Legge, Kedwell, C. McDonald, Gregory, Lee (Dack 50), Harriman, Barrett (capt), Fagan (Akinfenwa 65), Hessenthaler.
Unused subs: Linganzi, Davies, Howard, Marriott, Daniels.
Wolves: McCarey, Golbourne, Ricketts (capt), McDonald, Batth, Elokobi, Henry (Griffiths 62), Edwards, Doyle (Cassidy 74), Sako, Jacobs.
Unused subs: Davis, Evans, Ihiekwe, Foley, Flatt.
Referee: M. Brown.
Attendance: 7,758 (910 visiting supporters).