Wolves 3 (Sako 51, Dicko 73,75)
Port Vale 0
Wolves moved to the top of League One, albeit on goal difference after keeping yet another clean sheet as they saw off a spirited Port Vale side at Molineux.
It wasn’t until shortly after the break that the Vale defence was finally breeched by Bakary Sako but the outcome was in little doubt after that with Nouha Dicko hitting a quickfire double before spurning a hat-trick opportunity when his late penalty was saved.
Wolves were unchanged for the visit of the Potteries team who kicked-off attacking the South Bank end.
The first chance of the game fell to Michael Jacobs who steered the ball narrowly wide with a shot on the run from just outside the area.
The in-form Jacobs was in the thick of the early play and he wasn’t too far off with a 25-yard effort that flew over the angle.
Some nifty footwork from Sako saw him beat three men as he ran into the box before hitting a hard, low cross that Dicko drilled wide at the near post.
A Sam Ricketts cross was just too far in front of Dicko and then Scott Golbourne and Sako pull backs both fell to opposition defenders.
In the 23rd minute James Henry’s corner resulted in a bout of head tennis in the Vale area. The ball eventually found its way back to Henry whose curling centre was knocked down by Vale keeper Chris Neal. Danny Batth tried to hook the loose ball over as he fell but his effort went over the bar.
Some fine interplay between Jacobs and Dicko ended when Neal saved at Jacobs feet, before Vale were presented with a gift chance that was wasted. A rare loose ball from Jack Price was picked up by Louis Dodds and his square ball fell nicely for Tom Pope who, with an open goal at his mercy, fired over the bar.
Good play from Golbourne broke up a Vale attack and when he found Jacobs the midfielder then threaded a pass through to Sako who was wide from 20-yards.
Appeals for a penalty when Dicko went down under a challenge from Jack Grimmer were ignored then Wanderers were inches away from taking the lead when, from Henry’s cross, Ricketts ran in and sent a powerful header against the underside of the bar before the ball was scrambled clear.
Shortly afterwards, in the 41st minute, it was Ricketts again, this time with a shot from just outside the box, that just cleared the far angle.
In first-half stoppage time, Neal had to tip over a cross from Henry but the corner conceded was cleared by the visiting defence.
Half-Time: Wolves 0 Port Vale 0
Vale threatened briefly as the new half began. Former Wolf Daniel Jones had a low cross cut out by Carl Ikeme, then Chris Robertson headed wide after Chris Lines had lifted a free-kick into the box.
Robertson, inadvertently, played a part as Wolves moved into a 51st minute lead. Sako let fly from the edge of the box and the ball struck the central defender and looped over Neal into the net.
Neal was soon in action again as he turned away an angled effort from Jacobs who had run with the ball into the box from the halfway line. Then he headed narrowly wide after Sako had crossed after playing a one-two with Golbourne.
Robertson went into the book for impeding Jacobs who would otherwise been clean through on goal. Luckily for Robertson, he wasn’t the last man although his team-mates were in wider positions. Sako’s free-kick hit the wall and when Dicko picked up the loose ball his shot was blocked.
When a Henry corner went through the goalmouth the ball fell to Jacobs on the far side but, at full stretch, he could only shoot over the bar.
Wolves went two up in the 73rd minute as Ricketts drilled a low cross in from the right and Dicko converted from close quarters.
The goal was the signal for a triple Vale substitution but it made little difference as Dicko scored again almost immediately. This time he picked up a Sako pass from deep in the home half. The striker ran between Jones and Carl Dickinson before burying a low drive into the corner of the net.
Matt Doherty replaced Richard Stearman for the closing stages and, after Ikeme had turned over a Jones cross, the keeper made a good save from Pope after Lines’s corner dropped to him.
Dicko’s persistence opened up a chance for Sako but the winger lifted the ball over the bar and, at the other end, Ikeme had to have his wits about him as Jones hit a fierce effort from fully 30-yards.
In the 89th minute Lines shoved Henry in the Vale box but Neal got down to save and deny Dicko his treble.
Wolves: Ikeme, Golbourne, Ricketts (capt), McDonald, Batth, Stearman (Doherty 77), Jacobs (Evans 90+2), Price, Dicko, Henry, Sako (Edwards 85).
Unused subs: McCarey, Elokobi, McAlinden, Ebanks-Landell.
Port Vale: Neal, Jones, Robertson, Dickinson, Loft (capt), Dodds (Williams 74), Pope, Lines, Grimmer, Duffy (Birchall 74), Knott (Williamson 74).
Unused subs: Johnson, Yates, Tomlin, Davis.
Booking: Robertson (66 – foul).
Referee: C. Pawson.
Blackburn Rovers Under 18s 4 Wolves 4 (Devers, Rainey, Keita, Carthey)