Wolves 1 (Edwards 22)
Middlesbrough 3 (Fabbrini 71, Leadbitter-pen 82, Downing 90+2)
Despite a much improved performance, Wolves suffered a second consecutive home defeat as Middlesbrough came from behind to score three in the last 20 minutes after an excellent effort from Dave Edwards had given the Molineux men a first-half advantage.
After the disappointing performance against Brentford in midweek, Kenny Jackett made four changes to his side – one of them enforced.
Dominic Iorfa was ruled out through suspension whilst James Henry, Sylvain Ojo and Adam Le Fondre dropped down to the bench. Their places were taken by Matt Doherty, Nathan Byrne, Rajiv van La Parra and Edwards.
Wolves kicked-off attacking the North Bank end and in the opening minutes both sides made strong probes without managing to get in a worthwhile attempt on goal.
It was in the tenth minute that the first real chance arrived with Benik Afobe half hitting a shot on the turn wide of the target. Appeals that Afobe was held as he pulled the trigger drew no response from the referee.
Two minutes later Emi Martinez had to tip over a rising drive from Tomas Kalas before a neat piece of work from Byrne almost brought its rewards seconds later. Kalas featured again as he tried to shield the ball out for a goal kick but Byrne showed a terrific turn of pace to not only keep the ball in, but win possession.
He turned and ran into the box but with no support he went for goal himself, from an acute angle, and only managed to find the side netting.
Two bookings followed – Afobe for catching Daniel Ayala in an aerial challenge before Carlos De Pena saw yellow after a late challenge on Byrne.
Wolves took the lead in the 22nd minute with a superb goal. Kevin McDonald’s inch perfect through ball released Scott Golbourne on the left and his first time cross was met by Edwards who dived full length to bullet a header into the corner of the net.
Martinez did well to cut out a driven pull back from former Wolf George Friend, before Conor Coady went close to a second Wolves goal when he hooked a volley narrowly over after another cross from Golbourne had been headed out to him.
Coady was booked for pulling at Emilio Nsue’s shirt and, after a low cross from Friend had fizzed through the home goalmouth, there was a tense moment after a Coady challenge on Kalas but the midfielder escaped with a warning.
Seconds before the break Coady featured again with a low, 20-yard drive that keeper Dimi Konstantopoulos turned aside for a corner.
Half-Time: Wolves 1 Boro 0
There was a longer than usual interval as it emerged that referee James Linington had picked up an injury. He was replaced by fourth official Darren Drysdale.
Four minutes into the new half, Friend was booked for a challenge on Doherty and then Kortney Hause pulled up as he chased a long ball with David Nugent. The defender still managed to get a tackle in and put the ball out before going down.
Hause was stretchered off to sympathetic applause with what turned out to be a hamstring injury. He was replaced by Jack Price with Coady moving into central defence alongside Danny Batth.
Two more bookings followed – both for heavy tackles with Diego Fabbrini, on McDonald, and Fernando Amorebieta, on Edwards, the guilty parties.
Edwards sent Afobe away with a short through pass but the striker had a defender either side of him for company and, as he got his shot in, Ayala made a well-timed tackle and the ball went behind for a corner.
Henry replaced van La Parra with an hour gone and he almost doubled Wanderers advantage with a first time shot following Byrne’s cross that beaten away by Konstantopoulos.
Boro pulled level in the 71st minute as Fabbrini’s low drive from the edge of the box beat Martinez’s dive and found the corner of the net.
Martinez held on to an angled drive from substitute Albert Adomah and then beat away a hard shot from the same player in Boro’s next attack.
The visitors took the lead in the 82nd minute with Grant Leadbitter converting a penalty after Byrne had tripped Friend just inside the area on the left hand-bye-line. Martinez dived the right way but he didn’t get a touch.
Twice in a minute Wolves were close to levelling it up with Amorebieta heading away a shot from Price that was heading for the top corner and then a shot on the turn from Edwards flew wide.
When play switched to the other end Batth’s foul on Leadbitter some 20-yards out led to a killer third from Boro with substitute Stewart Downing curling home the free-kick.
In the six minutes of stoppage time Afobe was wide with a header before he had another effort saved by the keeper. Then it was the turn of Batth whose header was deflected wide off a defender and from the corner conceded his second headed effort was saved by Konstantopoulos.
Wolves: Martinez, Doherty, Golbourne, Edwards, Batth (capt), Hause (Price 52), Byrne (Ojo 84), Coady, Afobe, Coady, van La Parra (Henry 61).
Unused subs: Ikeme, Wallace, Deslandes, Le Fondre.
Bookings: Afobe (10 – foul), Coady (35 – foul).
Boro: Konstantopoulos, Clayton, Fabbrini, Friend, De Pena (Adomah 69)(Gibson 88), Amorebieta, Nugent, Ayala, Nsue, Kalas (Downing 59), Leadbitter.
Unused subs: Mejias, Kike, Stephens, Maloney.
Bookings: De Pena (21 – foul), Friend (49 – foul), Fabbrini (56 – foul), Amorebieta (58 – foul), Leadbitter (90+3 – foul).
Referee: J. Linington (D. Drysdale 45).