Middlesbrough 2 (Vossen 3, Bamford 11)
Wolves 1 (Sako 53)
After conceding two early goals, Wolves battled their way back into the game at Middlesbrough pulling one back through Bakary Sako. But it wasn’t enough and Boro held on to put a dent in Wanderers play-off hopes.
Left out of the team that played in the defeat at St Andrew’s were Scott Golbourne, James Henry and Nouha Dicko who were all named as substitutes. In their places were Kortney Hause, Rajiv van La Parra and Dave Edwards.
Over 800 Wolves fans had made the long haul up to the north east and they were tucked away in a corner of the Riverside Stadium as Wolves kicked-off.
It was the home fans that were cheering after just three minutes as the visiting defence failed to deal with a through ball allowing Patrick Bamford to take possession and square a pass to Jelle Vossen who, with Carl Ikeme stranded, had the easiest of tasks in finding the empty net from the edge of the box.
There was a chance of an instant reply when Benik Afobe took the ball to the by-line before pulling it back into the path of Edwards but keeper Dimi Konstantopoulos dived forwards to cut out the cross at the midfielder’s feet.
Sako hit a free-kick over the bar after Adam Clayton had barged into Afobe 22-yards out, before Boro went two up in the 11th minute. Tomas Kalas cut into the area from the right and hit a low cross and although Bamford had his back to goal, he took a touch and swivelled, firing home from six-yards.
Afobe ran in and hit a fierce angled drive from just outside the area. The ball took a deflection as it flew inches wide for a Sako corner that came to nothing.
The woodwork came to Wolves’ rescue in the 19th minute when Albert Adomah ran for 30-yards before unleashing a shot that beat Ikeme before smacking against the crossbar and bouncing clear.
Stearman was booked after he had tripped Bamford who was in full flight as he headed toward the Wolves goal. Luckily for the defender, he was not the last man.
Consecutive corners from Sako and van La Parra brought no joy to Wolves who then had skipper Danny Batth yellow carded after a challenge on Bamford.
Just before the break Ikeme had to race from his line to save as Vossen sprinted through the middle and in stoppage time Sako became the third Wolf to go into the book after his block challenge on Bamford was deemed as too high by the referee.
Half-Time: Boro 2 Wolves 0
Golbourne replaced Hause at the start of the new half which was five minutes old when Vossen missed a great chance, blasting the ball over from eight-yards as he ran onto a Kalas cross.
Three minutes later Sako fired Wolves back into contention. Edwards lay the ball in front of the winger who teed it up before lashing a low, left foot drive past Konstantopoulos.
Wolves were looking a lot more of a threat following the break and Kenny Jackett added the firepower of Dicko to the mix after 63 minutes with Jack Price making way.
There was a moment of danger when Batth fouled Bamford in the ‘D’ but Lee Tomlin’s free-kick bounced off the wall for an Adam Forshaw corner that was cleared.
Wolves were unlucky not to pull level in the 73rd minute when van La Parra struck the bar with a sidefoot volley, following a Golbourne cross, with the ball then bouncing behind (pictured).
Shortly afterwards the final Wolves change saw Michael Jacobs going on in place of the Dutch winger.
Wolves pressed hard as the game neared its conclusion but Boro almost got a third in the 86th minute through Tomlin whose angled shot was only just wide of the far post.
Further bookings followed as the tension heightened – Edwards for a foul on Forshaw and Clayton for hauling back Sako.
The five minutes of added time offered no joy for Wolves and, in the dying seconds, Bamford almost got a third when he raced clear and lobbed the ball over Ikeme only to see it come back off the bar.
Boro: Konstantopoulos, Friend, Gibson, Clayton, Tomlin, Vossen, Bamford, Kalas, Adomah (Amorebieta 77), Forshaw, Woodgate (capt) (Omeruo 61).
Unused subs: Ripley, Kike, Ledesma, Whitehead, Nsue.
Booking: Clayton (90 – foul).
Wolves: Ikeme, Iorfa, Hause (Golbourne 45), Price (Dicko 63), Stearman, Batth (capt), van La Parra (Jacobs 77), McDonald, Afobe, Edwards, Sako.
Unused subs: Kuszczak, Henry, K. Doyle, Ebanks-Landell.
Bookings: Stearman (24 – foul), Batth (38 – foul), Sako (45+1 – foul), Edwards (90 – foul).
Referee: N. Swarbrick.
Attendance: 20,520 (862 away supporters).