Crewe Alexandra 0
Wolves 1 (Dicko 89)
A last minute goal from substitute Nouha Dicko handed Wolves victory over a plucky Crewe Alexandra side who were denied by the woodwork either side of half time on a stamina sapping afternoon in Cheshire.
The trip to Gresty Road brought back memories of the game against Alex in April when Wanderers’ 2-0 victory confirmed promotion.
Bakary Sako, named on the teamsheet to start the game, picked up a niggle in the warm up and he was replaced by Rajiv van La Parra.
Wolves kicked-off defending the railway station end of the ground and Kenny Jackett’s men made the early running with moves involving Dave Edwards and Michael Jacobs just failing to come off after some slick interplay.
In the seventh minute Van La Parra used his speed and skill after taking a return pass from Lee Evans, to cut inside from the wing and turn his marker before hitting an angled drive over the bar.
Van La Parra threatened again from the other side of the Crewe goal as he tried to curl one into the opposite corner of the net but his effort was too high and the ball went over the angle.
Jacobs then played a corner back to Scott Golbourne and his cross was headed into the side netting at the back stick by Danny Batth.
In the 25th minute Van La Parra forced Crewe keeper Scott Shearer into a hurried clearance that went straight to Edwards. The midfielder’s goal attempt was deflected behind by Shearer’s legs and, from Jacob’s corner, Leon Clarke’s header was cleared off the line by Matt Tootle.
Play quickly switched to the opposite end and Billy Walters drilled in a low cross that went straight though Carl Ikeme’s goalmouth and out to safety on the far side.
A Kevin McDonald through pass was cleverly flicked on by Clarke to Edwards who had the goal at his mercy but he had strayed into an offside position.
Shearer dived to push away a long range effort from Jacobs and, for Alex, Chris Atkinson wasn’t far off with a 25-yard speculative volley.
Crewe’s best efforts of the half came in the final minute. Ikeme had to tip over a terrific shot from Oliver Turton and, from Atkinson’s corner, George Ray headed against the Wanderers crossbar.
Half-Time: Crewe 0 Wolves 0
There were no changes to the Wolves side at half time and much of the opening minutes after the break were spent in the Crewe half with three corners from Jacobs causing problems for the home defence.
The former Derby man then just failed to reach a pass from Clarke that would have left him with a clear shot at goal before a spell of pressure from the home side saw them going close three times in a five minute spell.
Substitute Lee Molyneux cut in from the left wing and hit a low shot that was no more than six inches wide of the far post.
Then a timely tackle by Evans on Turton as he shot thwarted an almost certain goal. Even so, the deflection saw the ball loop up and smack against the bar.
Wolves broke through McDonald and his cross was headed wide by Clarke who was nicely positioned on the far side of the six-yard box.
But Alex were soon back on the frontfoot and it was Molyneux again, this time with a 22-yard drive, that drew the best out of Ikeme who was forced to dive full length to save.
A drinks break and the introduction of substitutes by both sides broke up the rhythm of the game for a while although there was little in it.
McDonald shot high over the bar after a James Henry corner had been headed out into his path, and Evans saw Shearer save his low effort after Dicko set up the chance.
With the game looking destined for a draw, Dicko ran onto Evans’ through ball and held off Thierry Audel before sidestepping the keeper and turning the ball over the line from just a couple of yards out to win it for Wolves and reward the near 1,000 strong travelling support.
Alex: Shearer, Tootle (capt), Audel, Nolan, Ray, Dugdale (Baillie 68), Waters (Cooper 65), Atkinson (Molyneux 51), Lancaster (Oliver 45), Turton, Inman (Jones 70).
Unused subs: Garratt, Johnston, Saunders, Ng, Sekajja, Pritchard-Ellis.
Wolves: Ikeme, Doherty, Golbourne, Edwards (Henry 65), Ricketts (capt), Batth, Jacobs, Evans, Clarke (Dicko 65), Van La Parra (Bancessi 65), McDonald.
Unused subs: McCarey, Stearman, Ebanks-Landell, Price, McAlinden.
Referee: M. Heywood.
Attendance: 2,721 (987 away supporters).