Birmingham City 2 (Kiernan 25, Gray 61)
Wolves 1 (Afobe 21)
It turned out to be a frustrating afternoon for below par Wolves as their play-off hopes took a blow when they conceded the lead and slipped to a narrow defeat to local rivals Birmingham City.
Kenny Jackett named an unchanged team for the derby at St Andrews and it was Wolves that kicked-off defending the Railway End of the ground that housed a 4,000 sell out travelling support.
The first real threat went the way of the visitors in the seventh minute after Scott Golbourne had been pulled back by David Cotterill. The midfielder was booked but James Henry’s free-kick into the box was headed clear.
Carl Ikeme caught Diego Fabbrini’s dipping long range effort under the bar before a Henry shot was deflected over for a Bakary Sako corner that was cleared by the home defence.
Ikeme watched as Robert Tesche’s 20-yard drive drifted wide and then Demarai Gray fired straight at the keeper with a shot on the run from outside the area.
Wolves moved into the lead in the 21st minute thanks to the persistence of Nouha Dicko who stumbled as he chased the ball into the box. But he still managed to get a foot to the ball to divert it into the path of Benik Afobe who made no mistake from eight-yards (pictured).
The lead wasn’t to last long, however, as City levelled just four minutes later following Cotterill’s corner. He curled the ball into the six-yard box where there was a tremendous scramble before Rob Kiernan finally forced it home.
Dicko cut in from the right and hit a low angled shot that was smothered by Darren Randolph at the keeper’s near post, and then Gray took the ball to the line and hit a hard, low cross that ran dangerously through the six-yard box with no-one able to get a touch.
Play was swinging from end to end and Kevin McDonald wasn’t too far away when, after a neat piece of control, he let fly from 25-yards.
A back heel from Afobe played Henry in the right of the home area but Randolph comfortably gathered the shot that followed as the half finished with honours even.
Half-Time: Blues 1 Wolves 1
Cotterill’s free-kick into the Wolves box was cleared and any hope of a reward following a Henry corner at the other end was ended by the offside flag.
Dicko and Afobe both had shots from the 18-yard line blocked in quick succession, and Ikeme had little trouble in saving from Gray who had cut in from the left.
A break from a Sako corner saw Wolves falling behind in the 61st minute. The flag kick was headed out by Jonathan Grounds to Gray who ran from deep inside his own half into the visitors’ territory where Golbourne appeared to win possession.
But Gray won the ball back and left with just Ikeme to beat, he swept the ball home from the edge of the box.
Henry tested Randolph with a shot on the turn as Wolves looked to get back into the game and then McDonald saw yellow after a foul on Tesche.
Both sides made a change after 73 minutes with Rajiv van La Parra replacing Henry and, for Blues, Jonathan Spector took the place of Kiernan.
Jack Price went into the book for a challenge on Fabbrini before Clayton Donaldson missed the chance of a third City goal when he hooked the ball high over the bar from near the penalty spot.
Paul Caddis looked to have obstructed Sako as the winger ran into the box but, to the anger of the Wolves fans looking down on the incident, the referee gave Blues the free-kick.
Afobe slid a short pass through to Dicko whose shot was deflected for an unproductive corner and, hard as the Molineux men tried in the closing stages, it became more and more apparent that this wasn’t going to be their afternoon.
That was summed up in the 85th minute when Dominic Iorfa beat three men as he ran into the box. His low cross was half cleared and when it fell to McDonald the midfielder fired high and wide of the target.
Blues: Randolph, Grounds, Gleeson, Donaldson, Cotterill, Tesche, Kiernang (Spector 73), Morrison, Caddis (capt), Gray (Dyer 90), Fabbrini (Davis 86).
Unused subs: C. Doyle, Thomas, Novak, Shinnie.
Booking: Cotterill (7 – foul).
Wolves: Ikeme, Iorfa, Golbourne, Price, Stearman, Batth, Henry (van La Parra 73), McDonald, Afobe, Dicko, Sako.
Unused subs: Kuszczak, Edwards, K. Doyle, Ebanks-Landell, Hause, Jacobs.
Bookings: McDonald (72 – foul), Price (74 – foul), Batth (83 – foul).
Referee: E. Ilderton.
Attendance: 19,330 (4,068 away supporters).
Wolves Under 18s 0 West Ham United 1