Wolves 4 (Griffiths 4, 68-pen, Evans 24, Sako 31)
Dominant Wolves got their home campaign off to the perfect start with a 4-0 beating of Gillingham. The game was so one sided that Kenny Jackett’s men could easily have doubled their score.
Before the game a minute’s applause took place to honour former Molineux great Dave Wagstaffe who had passed away in the week. Members of Waggy’s family and friends were joined by his team-mates on the pitch for the tribute.
In the opening seconds Carl Ikeme had to grab hold of a deep centre from Amine Linganzi and there was a chance for Wolves after Adam Barrett had hauled down Kevin Doyle outside the Gillingham box but Bakary Sako’s free-kick was too high.
The lead wasn’t far away though as Wolves opened their season’s account through Leigh Griffiths in the fourth minute. Skipper Samuel Ricketts delivered a long through pass that the Scot controlled on the edge of the box before turning a squeezing the ball between the post and the outstretched hand of Gills keeper Stuart Nelson (pictured).
Wolves continued to force the visitors back and Doyle was wide with a shot on the run before a Zeli Ismail corner wasn’t properly cleared and Sako ran in to hit a terrific shot that drew an equally good save from Nelson.
Matt Doherty forced his way into the Gillingham box and he was inches wide of the far post with a low cross-shot and then Ismail beat two defenders before crossing for Griffiths whose header was deflected wide.
Griffiths fired straight at Nelson after taking a return pass from Lee Evans then, in the 17th minute, Gillingham’s first goal attempt came from Linganzi who shot into the side netting from a narrow angle.
Sako raced onto a crossfield pass from Griffiths but shot hurriedly wide and then Doyle headed clear after Myles Weston had taken Gillingham’s first corner of the game.
Wolves went two up in the 24th minute when Evans coolly took a touch and converted from close range after Griffiths had miskicked with his goal attempt.
The pressure on Nelson’s goal was relentless and Sako made it three in the 31st minute making no mistake from ten-yards at the far post after Ismail had laid the ball into his path.
In a rare Gillingham attack, Danny Kedwell was just too high with a snapshot from 20-yards. Wolves were soon back on the front foot as Nelson made an athletic save from Griffiths’s spectacular volley.
There was another chance for Sako who had been played in by Griffiths but the winger blazed his shot high over the bar.
In stoppage time it was roles reversed as Sako set up Griffiths who drew another great save from Nelson with a long range effort.
Half-Time: Wolves 3 Gillingham 0
Steven Gregory was yellow carded for tripping Doherty shortly after the restart, and then the Irish defender was the target of penalty appeals when the ball appeared to strike his hand but the referee, who was well up with play, waved aside Gillingham appeals.
Ismail just failed to get his foot to the ball when Doyle played it back to him before Sako started and finished a flowing move that involved Evans and Doyle. Nelson was flatfooted as Sako’s drive passed just the wrong side of the post.
With the half approaching the midway stage, Doyle received a tremendous ovation as he ran off to be replaced by Björn Sigurdarson.
In the 68th minute a bizarre challenge by Leon Legge on Evans gave Wolves a penalty and Griffiths, with a short run up, easily beat Nelson as he found the corner of the net.
Griffiths wasn’t far off his hat-trick but he dragged a shot wide after Sigurdarson had squared the ball to him.
Like Doyle, Ismail enjoyed a positive response from the crowd as he ran off to be replaced by Jack Price.
Sako did brilliantly to keep Evans’s deep through pass in play. He then turned and hit a cross through the goalmouth with just a touch needed for a fifth goal.
Griffiths set up Price who missed his kick when well-placed and both Doherty and Charlie Lee needed treatment after they were involved in a block tackle for the loose ball.
As the game drifted into stoppage time, Sako’s shot was deflected to Sigurdarson who forced one final save from Nelson.
Wolves: Ikeme, Doherty (Foley 89), Ricketts (capt), Evans, Stearman, Batth, Ismail (Price 76), Davis, Doyle (Sigurdarson 64), Griffiths, Sako.
Unused subs: Hennessey, Cassidy, McAlinden, Ebanks-Landell.
Gillingham: Nelson, Harriman, Martin, Legge, Barrett (capt), Gregory (Dack 54), Linganzi, Lee, Kedwell (German 71), McDonald (Whelpdale 57), Weston.
Unused subs: Howard, Davies, Allen, Akinfenwa.
Bookings: Gregory (47 – foul), Legge (68 – foul).
Referee: S. Atwell.