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19:27 23rd April 2011

Denied A Priceless Victory

Wolves 1 (Fletcher 22)

Fulham 1 (Johnson 80)

A goal by Fulham substitute Andy Johnson, who had been on the pitch for just 18 seconds, denied Wolves a priceless victory after Steven Fletcher had headed Mick McCarthy's men into a half-time lead.

There were three changes to the home starting line-up. Stephen Ward came in at left-back in place of the injured George Elokobi, Jody Craddock returned to central defence for his first game in six months with Richard Stearman slotting into the right-back spot whilst Nenad Milijaš took a midfield role.

Kevin Foley and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake were the men making way with both taking a seat on the bench.

Wolves kicked-off attacking the North Bank end of a noisy Molineux with visiting skipper Danny Murphy the vocal target of the home fans following his comments after the game at Craven Cottage earlier in the season.

It took a flying save from Wayne Hennessey in only the third minute to keep out a 25-yard effort from Carlos Salcido and then, from Simon Davies's corner, Adlene Guedioura had to clear from in front of the line after Brede Hangeland had nodded the ball into the six-yard box.

Fulham were looking by far the more dangerous side in the opening exchanges although their defence had to deal with a dangerous cross and then a free-kick from Matt Jarvis.

Stearman went into the book for a high challenge on Eidur Gudjohnsen and then Clint Dempsey missed a great chance when he lifted the ball over the bar from eight-yards out after a cross from Steve Sidwell.

A deep ball into the box from Milijaš was met by Guedioura whose bouncing header was deflected wide by a defender. Although Jarvis's initial corner was cleared Wolves kept up the pressure and were rewarded with a 22nd minute lead.

Guedioura beat his marker on the right before laying the ball off for Karl Henry whose centre was powerfully headed home by Fletcher (pictured).

Aaron Hughes felled Fletcher just outside the Fulham box but when Milijaš squared the free-kick to Guedioura, the midfielder fired high and wide.

The referee incurred the wrath of the crowd when Dempsey and Craddock tangled near the centre-circle. The veteran Wolves defender appeared to take an elbow on the chin but the official gave the free-kick in favour of the Fulham man.

Guedioura tried a speculative volley from fully 40-yards out that was nearer the corner flag than the goal and then, in stoppage time, Jamie O'Hara fired wide of the far post with a shot on the turn after he had taken a pass from Fletcher.

Half-Time: Wolves 1 Fulham 0

The new half was just 23 seconds old when Chris Baird was yellow carded for tripping Jarvis who was in full flight on the left-wing. The visiting defence were at sixes and sevens before they managed to scramble clear O'Hara's free-kick.

Hennessey failed to hold a low cross from Baird but Henry managed to divert the ball back into the keeper's arms before Gudjohnsen could capitalise.

Guedioura played a one-two with O'Hara before hitting a low 30-yard drive that had Mark Schwarzer at full stretch and the Australian keeper needed attempts before he had the ball under control.

On 55 minutes Gudjohnsen hit a shot over the near angle from a good position before Fulham boss Mark Hughes was sent to the stand by the referee.

Hughes reacted after Hangeland was booked for a tackle from behind on Fletcher. He repeatedly kicked wildly at a water bottle before he was banished from the touchline.

With the game approaching the hour mark, Michael Mancienne was sent on in place of Milijaš.

Twice in the space of a minute Dempsey was wide after being set up by Gudjohnsen on each occasion and then Hennessey made a fine save from a Sidwell shot that took a wicked deflection.

Fulham made a double change in the 69th minute with Bobby Zamora and Gael Kakuta taking the places of Gudjohnsen and Murphy respectively.

The newly introduced duo were soon involved with a low shot from Kakuta that was taken by Hennessey, and a clearance off the line by Zamora from Christophe Berra's tame header following a Jarvis corner.

Fletcher took possession of a poor clearance from Schwarzer and advanced into the area but the keeper atoned for his error by making a good save from the striker's rising drive.

Ebanks-Blake went on for Fletcher and then came the Johnson switch that was to change the course of the game. Dempsey gave way for the striker who seconds later was celebrating after tucking away Zamora's lay off.

Hennessey got a hand to Johnson's shot but couldn't keep the ball out. He later admitted that he was completely unsighted.

Ebanks-Blake headed wide from a Ward cross and, as the game drifted into stoppage time, Kakuta had a fierce shot beaten away by Hennessey. Kakuta regained possession and struck a shot that flashed narrowly wide of the far post.

Deep into stoppage time, Craddock was booked for a challenge on Moussa Dembele.

Wolves: Hennessey, Stearman, Ward, Henry (capt), Berra, Craddock, Guedioura (Kightly 85), O'Hara, Milijaš (Mancienne 59), Fletcher (Ebanks-Blake 77), Jarvis.

Unused subs: Hahnemann, Vokes, Hammill, Foley.

Bookings: Stearman (14 - foul), Craddock (90+3 - foul).

Fulham: Schwarzer, Salcido, Hangeland, Baird, Sidwell, Murphy (capt) (Kakuta 69), Hughes, Gudjohnsen (Zamora 69), Dempsey (Johnson 80), Davies, Dembele.

Unused subs: Stockdale, Kelly, Etuhu, Greening.

Bookings: Baird (46 - foul), Hangeland (56 - foul).

Referee: M. Oliver.

Attendance: 28,825.

    Data provided by Press Association


    For the first 50 years of their existence, England played their home matches all around the country.