Wolves 2 (Sako-pen 33, Dicko 73)
Wolves inflicted a 2-0 win over in form Middlesbrough with a Bakary Sako penalty and a determined effort from the tenacious Nouha Dicko securing the points that lifted Wolves up to fourth in the Championship table just three points behind leaders Derby County.
James Henry returned in place of Rajiv van La Parra as the only change to Kenny Jackett’s starting line-up.
The visitors kicked-off attacking the South Bank end within seconds Matt Doherty was pulled up for a challenge on Patrick Bamford to the left of the home area. Grant Leadbitter lifted over the free-kick which was cleared by Danny Batth.
Sako won possession from Ryan Fredericks on the halfway line and raced into the Boro area before hitting a left footed drive wide of the near post.
In the 16th minute Lee Evans’s crossfield pass picked out Doherty on the far side and he quickly switched the ball inside for Henry whose scooped shot was collected by Dimitrious Konstantopoulos.
Dicko looked to have made a ball winning challenge on Adam Reach but the referee decided otherwise leaving Leadbitter with a 25-yard free-kick which he hit low, through the wall, forcing a diving save from Carl Ikeme.
Kenneth Omeruo obstructed Dicko as the pair chased a loose ball towards the by-line. Sako took the free-kick from near the corner flag and his inswinging effort was turned over the bat by Konstantopoulos.
Wolves moved into a 33rd minute lead with a penalty. Sako fed a short through pass to Dicko who ran into the box and was upended by one time Molineux defender George Friend and Sako made no mistake from the spot.
Four minutes later the home goal had a lucky escape when Tommy Rowe’s attempted clearance hit Albert Adomah and rebounded into the box where Bamford helped the ball on to Jelle Vossen who volleyed against the bar with Ikeme smothering the loose ball as the Boro forwards closed in.
There was another moment of danger when Kevin McDonald lost possession 30-yards out. Vossen’s shot was blocked and when Bamford ran onto the rebound his effort was parried by Ikeme who also saved the striker’s follow-up.
Just before the break, Batth bravely threw himself in the way of a well struck drive from Leadbitter.
Half-Time: Wolves 1 Boro 0
The visitors were still on the frontfoot in the opening minutes of the new half and Ikeme was almost caught out by a cross from Leadbitter that the keeper held on the line.
Henry tried his luck with two shots – the first of which was easily taken by the keeper and the second that was way too high.
From a Henry free-kick, Batth’s header was deflected behind, according to the referee, by a Wolves man before in the 58th minute, the woodwork denied Wanderers a second goal as Dave Edwards headed Henry’s excellent cross against the bar.
A minute later Sako’s deep free-kick was headed out but only as far as McDonald who hit a stunning volley from 25-yards that was deflected inches wide.
Michael Jacobs replaced Sako in the 63rd minute shortly before McDonald hit another terrific volley from virtually the same spot with this effort just clearing the bar.
Boro then made two changes with Kike and Lee Tomlin coming on for Bamford and Reach respectively. Friend went on a mazey run that took him into the Wolves area but his final shot lacked the power to trouble Ikeme.
In the 73rd minute Dicko beat the offside trap and ran into the box holding off the double challenge of Fredericks and Daniel Ayala before lashing the ball past Konstantopoulos into the roof of the net.
More changes followed with Yanic Wildschut taking the place of Vossen for Boro, and Leon Clarke that of Dicko.
Jacobs was wide with a shot on the turn after a low cross from Henry then three bookings followed in the dying minutes - Leadbitter for a high kick that caught Evans in the face, Ethan Ebanks-Landell for upending Tomlin and Clarke for fouling Ayala.
Wanderers held on comfortably in the four minutes of stoppage time to record a morale boosting victory and a clean sheet.
Wolves: Ikeme, Doherty, Rowe, Edwards, Batth (capt), Ebanks-Landell, Henry, Evans, Dicko (Clarke 78), McDonald, Sako (Jacobs 63).
Unused subs: Flatt, Golbourne, Ricketts, Stearman, Sagbo.
Bookings: Ebanks-Landell (90+1 – foul), Clarke (90+3 – foul).
Boro: Konstantopoulos, Vossen (Wildschut 75), Ayala, Friend, Adomah, Reach (Tomlin 64), Fredericks, Leadbitter (capt), Bamford (Kike 64), Omeruo, Whitehead.
Unused subs: Mejias, Gibson, Nsue, Veljkovic.
Booking: Leadbitter (83 – dangerous challenge)
Referee: C. Berry.