Walsall 1 (Butler 69)
Wolves unbeaten start to the League One season ground to an untidy halt as neighbours Walsall deservedly took the honours from this Molineux derby thanks to a second half goal from skipper Andy Butler.
There was just one change to the home starting line-up with Björn Sigurdarson replacing Leigh Griffiths up front. The Scot took a place on the bench.
Walsall kicked-off attacking the South Bank end and the first moment of danger came in the third minute after Kevin Doyle had been fouled by Paul Downing on the Wolves left. Bakary Sako lifted the free-kick into the area but it was cleared as was the corner taken by the winger a minute later.
Sigurdarson hit a ferocious first time shot from 20-yards that flashed past the post before Lee Evans’s foul on Sam Mantom some 22-yards out spelled danger for Wanderers. Craig Westcarr couldn’t have been much closer with the free-kick which clipped the top of the bar as it went over.
Ashley Hemmings hit a low, long range shot straight at Carl Ikeme who then had to re-adjust to take a deflected cross from Mantom.
A mazy run by Sigurdarson took him from the halfway line to the edge of the area. The ball broke to Sako who cut inside before unleashing a shot that wasn’t far away from the far post.
After a 33rd minute corner from Hemmings there was another chance for the Saddlers as the home defence failed to clear its lines and the ball dropped to Downing who fired over the bar from 15-yards.
Wolves were struggling to impose their authority on the game and Ikeme had to move smartly once more as he dived to save a long-range drive from Mantom.
Saddlers keeper Richard O’Donnell was finally called into action after 39 minutes following Hemmings’s foul on Kevin McDonald 25-yards out. Sako’s free-kick swerved over the wall and looked destined for the back of the net until O’Donnell acrobatically touched it over.
The keeper then made an easier save from an Evans free-kick after Doyle had been sandwiched on a run to goal. But the keeper was at his best again in stoppage time as he kept out a glancing header from Doyle following Sako’s corner.
Half-Time: Wolves 0 Walsall 0
In the opening minute of the new half a Doyle header drifted well wide after a cross from Scott Goldbourne.
A promising move involving David Davis, Doyle and Sako broke down and as Troy Hewitt broke into the Wolves half he was bundled over by McDonald who was shown the yellow card.
McDonald was withdrawn and replaced by Griffiths in the 56th minute and, at the same time Kevin Foley went on for Evans.
Griffiths was soon involved but his header following Matt Doherty’s cross lacked power and direction as Wolves began to enjoy more of the attacking play after a lack lustre opening half.
Sako was too high with a snapshot from all of 40-yards, and from a Griffiths corner Danny Batth powered a header narrowly wide.
Midway through the half it was the visiting fans that were celebrating after Batth had been penalised for a foul on Hewitt to the left of the Wolves box. Westcarr’s free-kick to the far post was headed back into the heart of the goalmouth where Butler was waiting to nod the ball home.
Doyle almost created an equaliser three minutes later with a shot that took a hefty deflection and went just wide of the post as O’Donnell struggled to get across his goal.
Then a Sako free-kick from the side of the box, after Doherty had been fouled by Andy Taylor, was collected by O’Donnell at his near post.
As Wolves piled forward in search of a goal, Saddlers substitute Romaine Sawyers broke clear and sprinted into the area where Batth managed to get in a last gasp challenge.
In the 89th minute Ikeme was booked for handling the ball outside his area after he had slipped making a clearance. From the free-kick Milan Lalkovic, on as a substitute for Hewitt, thumped the ball against the outside of the post.
The five minutes of added time yielded no reward for Wanderers who were held at bay by a determined Saddlers defence.
Wolves: Ikeme, Doherty, Golbourne, Davis, Batth, Ricketts (capt), Evans (Foley 56), McDonald (Griffiths 56), Doyle, Sigurdarson, Sako.
Unused subs: McCarey, Stearman, Cassidy, Price, Ismail.
Bookings: McDonald (50 – foul), Ikeme (89 – hand ball).
Walsall: O’Donnell, Taylor, Butler (capt), Featherstone, A. Chambers, Westcarr (Sawyers 81), Hemmings (Baxendale 65), Downing, J. Chambers, Mantom, Hewitt (Lalkovic 81).
Unused subs: Purkiss, Benning, Roberts, McQuilkin.
Booking: Mantom (90+5 – kicking ball away after conceding free-kick).
Referee: M. Russell.