Newcastle United 1 (Mitrovic 44)
Newcastle moved back to the top of the Championship table after a controversial victory over Wolves at Molineux with the only goal of the game scored by Aleksandar Mitrovic on the stroke of half-time.
The Serb was perhaps fortunate to still be on the pitch after an arguable second booking offence earlier in the half.
Paul Lambert made three changes to his starting line-up. In came Bright Enobakhare, Danny Batth and Jack Price whilst Kortney Hause, George Saville and Lee Evans dropped down to the bench.
Newcastle kicked-off attacking the South Bank end but the first threat came from Wolves when Enobakhare was fouled by Jack Colback to the left of the visitors’ box. Helder Costa’s free-kick was headed clear from inside a crowded six-yard box.
There was a moment of danger for Wanderers in the third minute as Matt Ritchie slipped a short through ball into the path of Colback but Carl Ikeme saved, initially with a leg, before smothering the loose ball.
Jonjo Shelvey fouled Enobakhare in a central position 22-yards out but Costa’s free-kick was too high and then Mitrovic, who had been spoken to for backing into Batth, did the same to Richard Stearman and was shown the yellow card.
Costa switched from one side of the field to the other, taking the ball with him, before exchanging passes with Andreas Weimann who ran to the by-line before crossing to Nouha Dicko who wasn’t far off with a bouncing, first time shot.
In the 25th minute another foul by Colback on Enobakhare, gave Wanderers another free-kick which Costa lifted into the box. Dave Edwards headed it on and Stearman ran in at the far post but, at full stretch, he could only lift the ball over the bar.
Mitrovic was lucky to survive not receiving a second yellow after he had clearly caught Ikeme as the two contested a long through ball on the edge of the home area.
A minute before the break Newcastle took the lead when Mitrovic scored from close in. And to rub salt into Wolves’ wounds, there was a suspicion of offside against Jamaal Lascelles who had set him up
Mohamed Diame’s initial shot bounced off Conor Coady to Lascelles who looked to have run back from an offside position in the centre of goal. He fed Mitrovic who had the easiest of tasks in converting.
Half-Time: Wolves 0 Newcastle 1
Mitrovic was withdrawn during the break with Christian Atsu taking his place. For Wolves, Evans took over from Price who had taken a knock shortly before the interval.
Four minutes in, Edwards was a whisker away from levelling matters with a trademark glancing header from Costa’s cross with the ball skimming off the side netting.
Wolves made a second change with Jon Dadi Bodvarsson taking over up front from Enobakhare after 61 minutes.
It took a superb saving tackle from Batth to prevent an almost certain second Newcastle goal. Atsu had taken the ball to the edge of the box when the skipper masterfully dispossessed him and then cleared.
Matt Doherty went into the book when the referee deemed that he had taken a dive on the edge of the Newcastle box, and he was followed into the book by Ritchie for a late challenge on Coady.
The Newcastle defence survived a hand ball call following a Doherty cross as Wolves piled on the pressure. Paul Dummett then fouled Costa just a yard to the side of the area and with everyone expecting the winger to lift the free-kick into the heart of the goalmouth, he pulled it back to Evans who fired over from the 18-yard line.
A final Wolves change saw Ben Marshall making his home bow in place of Weimann.
Determined work by Edwards and Bodvarsson ended with the Icelander firing in a low cross that was hooked behind and when Bodvarsson got in a similar effort, Dicko was tackled as he shot and the ball looped gently into the air before being taken by Karl Darlow.
Coady slipped a short cross in to Costa who sidestepped a defender before curling a shot goalwards. Unfortunately it was too close to Darlow.
The final few minutes saw Wanderers laying siege to the Newcastle goal and the visitors had Colback, Darlow and Ayoze Perez yellow carded as they defended in depth.
Dicko, Costa and Doherty all had shots blocked in the dying minutes but the Newcastle defence kept the door firmly closed.
Wolves: Ikeme, Doherty, Coady, Edwards, Batth (capt), Stearman, Costa, Price (Evans 45), Dicko, Enobakhare (Bodvarsson 61), Weimann (Marshall 75).
Unused subs: Burgoyne, Saville, Hause, Ronan.
Bookings: Doherty (64 – simulation).
Newcastle: Darlow, Clark, Dummett, Colback, Lascelles (capt), Ritchie (Murphy 82), Shelvey, Diame, Gouffran, Yedlin, Mitrovic (Atsu 45).
Unused subs: Elliot, Hanley, Hayden, Perez, Gamez.
Bookings: Mitrovic (14 – foul), Ritchie (67 – foul), Colback (88 - foul), Perez (89 - foul), Darlow (90+2 - time wasting).
Referee: C. Pawson.