Late Siege Brings No Joy
Brighton and Hove Albion 1 (Baldock 14)
Despite laying siege to the Brighton goal in the closing stages, Wolves couldn’t find an equaliser to Sam Baldock’s 14th minute header and they left the south coast empty handed.
Nouha Dicko came in for his first senior start since returning from injury as the only change to the side that took a point from Villa Park. Jon Dadi Bodvarsson dropped down to the bench. Wolves kicked-off defending the end that housed over 800 of their supporters.
Anthony Knockaert’s early header from Baldock’s cross was mistimed and sailed harmlessly over the bar before Carl Ikeme had to react quickly to clear Matt Doherty’s back pass into the six-yard box.
Dave Edwards angrily claimed he had won the ball after he was penalised for a challenge on Knockaert to the right of the Wanderers area. Knockaert’s curling free-kick was turned over by Ikeme for the first of a pair of home corners.
But the keeper was beaten by Baldock’s powerful twisting header that he got his fingertips to before the ball went in off the underside of the bar with Gaetan Bong having supplied the cross.
The first real opportunity for the visitors came when a deep free-kick from Helder Costa dropped at the feet of Edwards who quickly got a shot in only for the ball to bounce off a defender and away to safety.
On 21 minutes Danny Batth went into the book for fouling Knockaert right on the edge of the box. Jiri Skalak’s free-kick was inches away from putting Brighton two up.
Romain Saiss wasn’t best pleased and the Wolves supporters behind the goal even less so when the referee failed to produce a yellow card for Steve Sidwell’s untidy challenge on the midfielder.
Dominic Iorfa was cautioned shortly afterwards after he had clipped the heels of Skalak.
A Costa corner was half cleared as far as Prince Oniangue some 20-yards out but after working a shooting position for himself he shot high over the bar.
Baldock was also too high when he tried a first time effort at the far post after a cross from Bruno Saltor then Kortney Hause almost sliced the ball into his own net as he cleared a driven cross from Bong.
It took a terrific save from David Stockdale in the 43rd minute to keep out Costa’s dipping drive from the right side of the area.
Half-Time; Brighton 1 Wolves 0
Walter Zenga made a double change at half-time with Bodvarsson and Ivan Cavaleiro taking over from Conor Coady and Oniangue.
And seconds after their introduction the duo almost did the trick. Cavalerio pulled the ball back from the by-line and Saltor deflected it into the path of Bodvarsson who was tackled by Sidwell just as he connected and his effort, from near the penalty spot, went over the bar.
Sidwell was yellow carded for a foul on Bodvarsson 25-yards out but Cavalerio’s free-kick was way too high.
For Brighton Baldock went close with a header following a corner and Knockaert tried a low 25-yarder that carried plenty of power but went straight to Ikeme.
The home side continued to look dangerous and a driven cross from Baldock fizzed through the six-yard box only needing a touch.
Midway through the half, Dicko was replaced by Joao Teixeira and Brighton made two changes of their own – Connor Goldson for Saltor and Dale Stephens for Baldock.
Ikeme dived low to save at his near post after Knockaert had jinked his way past a couple of challenges and home appeals for a penalty were waved away when Sidwell fell under a challenge from Iorfa.
In the final few minutes Wolves bombarded the Brighton goal. Costa had home hearts in mouths with a free-kick that just curled wide of the far post.
Then, in stoppage time, Batth picked up a clearance from a Teixeria corner and hit a volley that had Stockwell scrambling across his goal to save.
When Ikeme went up for a corner, one of six that Wolves won in the closing stages, it meant that every man was in the home area and the referee had to halt play for bouts of pushing and shoving whilst waiting for a corner to be taken. Bodvarsson and Dunk were both booked as things got a little heated.
The last move of the match came in the sixth minute of stoppage time when Cavalerio headed Teixeira’s corner through the six-yard box agonisingly just out of reach of any Wolves player.
Brighton: Stockdale, Saltor (capt) (Goldson 79), Bong, Dunk, Skalak, Baldock (Stephens 82), Knockaert (Pocognoli 90+1), Sidwell, Murray, Norwood, Duffy.
Unused subs: Maenpaa, Murphy, Manu, Ince.
Bookings: Sidwell (49 – foul), Dunk (90+6 – (ungentlemanly conduct).
Wolves: Ikeme, Doherty, Iorfa, Edwards, Batth, Hause, Costa, Saiss, Dicko (Teixeria 68), Coady (Bodvarsson 45), Oniangue (Cavalerio 45).
Unused subs: Lonergan, Stearman, Saville, Wallace.
Bookings: Batth (21 – foul), Iorfa (34 – foul), Bodvarsson (90+6 – (ungentlemanly conduct).
Referee: K. Stroud.
Attendance: 25,231 (839 away supporters).