Wolves 2 (Dicko 48, Grant-og 68)
Derby County 0
Although they rode their luck at times, Wolves came out on top of a terrific tussle with Derby County in front of the television cameras and a healthy sized crowd at Molineux. The win took Wanderers to within two points of their East Midlands rivals in the battle for a play-off place.
James Henry started in place of Rajiv van La Parra who was named as a substitute.
Wolves kicked-off attacking the North Bank end and in a lively opening Darren Bent had a shot blocked after a lively run from Tom Ince, whilst for Wolves Matt Doherty volleyed into the side netting with an attempted cross.
Johnny Russell was wide with a low, long-range effort before Wolves won a free-kick to the left of the Derby box when Will Hughes fouled Bakary Sako. Henry’s free-kick landed in the heart of the six-yard box and after a brief scramble the ball was hacked clear.
A minute later Derby won a free-kick in an identical spot at the other end of the pitch after Doherty had felled Jesse Lingard. Craig Bryson’s kick was punched clear by Tomasz Kuszczak.
Henry broke away with the ball and spread it wide to Scott Golbourne whose cross was just too high for Henry to complete a perfect one-two.
On 15 minutes Derby keeper Lee Grant just beat Benik Afobe to Kevin McDonald’s through ball as play continued to swing from end to end.
County were close in their next attack as Bent just failed to get a foot to Craig Forsyth’s low, driven cross.
In the 25th minute Wolves were close to falling behind as Ince’s shot from the edge of the area hit the top of the bar before going over.
Seconds later a centre from Nouha Dicko was sliced across the face of his own goal by Richard Keogh. The ball dropped to Afobe on the far side but his first time shot was blocked by Grant and the danger was cleared.
Grant had to punch clear a Henry free-kick after Sako was fouled inches outside the box as he prepared to cross, and then Dicko’s shot on the turn from the edge of the area went around a yard wide.
Kuszczak dived to his left to push away Lingard’s drive and, as the visitors kept the pressure on, the keeper had to make a similar save from Ince.
There was a let off for Wolves in the 40th minute when Danny Batth appeared to push Bent as the pair raced towards Kuszczak’s goal. To the dismay of the Derby players, the referee blew for a foul just as Ince followed up and rolled the ball into the net.
Just before the break, Cyrus Christie was booked for pulling back Sako.
Half-Time: Wolves 0 Rams 0
Three minutes into the new half, Wolves took the lead after a slip by Forsyth. He gave the ball away to McDonald who fed Dicko. The striker raced into the area and held off two defenders before drilling a low, angled shot past Grant (pictured).
The goal was the signal for some all-out Derby pressure and after Lingard’s shot was only parried by Kuszczak, Richard Stearman had to complete the clearance.
The County midfielder went even closer in the 57th minute as he fired across the face of the goal and watched as his effort came back off the foot of the far post.
Two minutes later it was Wolves’ turn to be denied by the woodwork. McDonald eased the pressure with a long ball that released Afobe on the right. He ran into the area and struck a venomous shot that hit the bar and went over.
On the hour Sako dribbled his way into a shooting position and let fly from 22-yards but his effort was too close to Grant who saved with ease.
Kenny Jackett then made two changes in a two minute spell with Dave Edwards replacing Dicko before van La Parra went on for Henry.
In the 68th minute Wolves grabbed a crucial second goal although in somewhat fortuitous circumstances. A cross from van La Parra flew high into the air off the boot of Forsyth at the near post. The ball dropped into the middle of the goalmouth, and under pressure from Batth, Grant pushed the ball into his own net.
Lingard looked to be with a chance of pulling one back until McDonald intervened and cleared the lines and then it was Lingard again, this time from 20-yards that tested Kuszczak.
But the home defence were in a determined mood and Derby’s attempts at goal in the closing stages were mainly limited to shots from distance.
In the dying seconds of stoppage time Sako went on a marauding run riding four tackles before shooting over the bar. It would have been a fitting end to a great night for the home support.
Wolves: Kuszczak, Doherty, Golbourne, Price, Batth (capt), Stearman, Henry (van La Parra 67), McDonald, Afobe (Doyle 90), Dicko (Edwards 65), Sako.
Unused subs: McCarey, Hause, Iorfa, Ebanks-Landell.
Rams: Grant, Christie, Forsyth, Bryson, Keogh (capt), Russell (Dawkins 70), Lingard, Hughes, Ince, Albentosa, Bent.
Unused subs: Ward, Roos, Hanson, Thomas, Shotton, Warnock.
Booking: Christie (45 – foul).
Referee: K. Stroud.