Sheffield Wednesday 0
Wolves 1 (Clarke 84)
An inspired substitution by head coach Kenny Jackett saw Leon Clarke grabbing a late winner for Wolves in the dying minutes of an end to end encounter with Sheffield Wednesday.
After five consecutive defeats, the Molineux men collected all three points when former Wednesday striker Clarke converted from close range after being on the field for less than a minute.
Kortney Hause had come in for the suspended Matt Doherty at left-back in an otherwise unchanged Wolves team.
The visitors kicked-off defending the Leppings Lane end of Hillsborough that housed around 2,000 travelling fans and inside the first minute they looked on as Chris Maguire’s low free-kick was cleared after Danny Batth had fouled Royston Drenthe.
A slip by Richard Stearman left Steve May with a clear run to goal but Carl Ikeme stood his ground forcing the Wednesday man wide and Batth ran in to turn May’s angled goal attempt behind.
In the seventh minute, Rajiv van La Parra’s determination almost led to a Wolves goal. The Dutchman chased down a ball that looked to be heading out of play and he beat his marker before running into the box and laying a pass into the path of James Henry who scooped it over the bar.
Play was swinging from end to end with neither keeper overworked although Ikeme must have been grateful to see a first time swerving volley from Drenthe fly over the far angle.
Midway through the half a glancing header from Drenthe flashed narrowly wide following a corner from Maguire.
Then Batth came to the rescue as he threw himself in the way of a dangerous effort from May who had let fly from the edge of the box.
Jeremy Helan did well to cut out a long pass from Bakary Sako that would have left Henry in the clear, and when the ball was cleared upfield to May, Dominic Iorfa did just enough to allow Ikeme to run from his line and collect.
The five minutes leading up to the break saw both sides having two good chances each When Kieran Lee pulled the ball back for May he shot wastefully over the bar.
Danny Graham had a great chance when Iorfa helped on Henry’s pass but the on loan striker, who was unmarked, shot just wide of the far post.
Kieran Westwood’s clearance dropped nicely into the path of May who took a touch before lashing a low drive wide of the unprotected Ikeme and his goal.
Just before the whistle, Henry ran to the right of the home area and rather than crossing he tried an angled shot that wasn’t too far wide of the far post.
Half-Time: Owls 0 Wolves 0
Just 35 seconds of the new half had gone when van La Parra missed a golden opportunity. Kevin McDonald’s shot was only parried by Westwood and when the loose ball fell to van La Parra, from eight yards out, he shot over the bar.
Then Westwood blocked bravely from van La Parra after Graham had nodded on a long through ball.
Nuhiu was booked for a late challenge on Stearman and, after Batth had fouled Helan to the left of the Wanderers box, there was a brief scramble before Lewis McGugan’s free-kick was cleared.
On the hour mark, May broke clear and ran into the left of Ikeme’s area but instead of shooting himself, he chose to lay the ball off and the danger was cleared by Stearman.
A period of heavy pressure from Wolves culminated with a shot from Henry that was well saved by Westwood before Lee went into the book for catching the back of McDonald’s ankle.
Lee could only turn a centre from Liam Palmer behind and then Drenthe was inches away from opening the score after he had run along the 18-yard line and hit a shot on the turn that couldn’t have been closer.
But it was the Wolves fans that were cheering moments later after Clarke’s introduction in place of Graham. With only his second touch of the ball he turned in McDonald’s cross at the far post to spark scenes of jubilation behind the goal.
In the four minutes of stoppage time, extended to seven after Stearman had suffered a cut to his head and received treatment, Wednesday threw everything at the Wolves box. May prodded a cross wide and Maguire wasn’t far away with a free-kick but Wolves held out for a much needed victory.
Owls: Westwood, Loovens (capt), May, Palmer, Nuhlu (Lavery 63), Maguire, Drenthe, Lees, Helan, Lee (Dhelna 92), McGugan.
Unused subs: Kirkland, Mattock, Semedo, McCabe, Maghoma.
Bookings: Nuhlu (49 – foul), Lee (79 – foul).
Wolves: Ikeme, Iorfa, Hause, Edwards, Batth (capt), Stearman, Henry (Price 88), van La Parra, McDonald, Graham (Clarke 83), Sako (Rowe 90).
Unused subs: Kuszczak, Saville, Evans, McAlinden.