Classic Comeback Foiled
Wolves 4 (Hause 22, Doherty 65, Cavaleiro 73, Edwards 90)
Fulham 4 (Johansen 32, Ayite 39, 90+4, Cairney 42)
Floyd Ayite’s goal deep into stoppage time ruined what had been a magnificent comeback from Wolves who had come from 3-1 down to take a late lead against in-form Fulham.
There were two changes to Paul Lambert’s team – both enforced. With keepers Carl Ikeme and Andy Lonergan ruled out through injury, Academy graduate Harry Burgoyne came in for his debut and as on loan Richard Stearman couldn’t play against his parent club, Kortney Hause partnered Danny Batth in central defence.
Wolves kicked–off attacking the North Bank end and there was an early alarm when Hause was penalised for a challenge on Stefan Johansen just to the right of the home area. Sone Aluko’s free-kick was played back to Ayite whose deflected shot flew uncomfortably close to the far post.
Burgoyne confidently dived to save a low shot from Aluko before the first serious Wolves attack saw Ryan Fredericks clearing Nouha Dicko’s driven cross from in front of goal.
The referee the got in the way of Helder Costa’s forward pass into the box and Fulham took advantage with a swift break that ended with Ayite firing over.
Fredericks was booked for a late tackle on Ivan Cavaleiro and, when the winger fired over the free-kick, Batth was just wide with a powerful header. Dave Edwards then joined Fredericks in the book after he had fouled Tom Cairney wide on the left.
Fredericks wasn’t far away with a first time shot from 30-yards before Wolves moved into a 22nd minute lead when Hause headed home following a Costa corner. It was the defender’s first goal for the club.
After Conor Coady had been yellow carded for a foul on another former Molineux youth prodigy, Scott Malone, Fulham keeper David Button failed to deal with Hause’s long through ball and when Dicko took possession he turned but hurried his shot which went across the face of goal and was cleared.
From being on the brink of a two goal lead, seconds later Wolves conceded an equaliser in the 32nd minute with Fredericks setting up Johansen who made no mistake from near the spot finding the top corner of the net and giving Burgoyne no chance.
Cavaleiro drove narrowly over the bar after he had been set up by Costa before Fulham moved into the lead in the 39th minute through Ayite who headed in a cross from Johansen.
To the despair of the home support, the visitors made it three in ten minutes when Cairney volleyed home from the edge of the box after Johansen had played across a free-kick.
Home-Time: Wolves 1 Fulham 3
Batth was narrowly wide with a header following a Cavaleiro corner, and then Button saved a low shot from Edwards after Batth had nodded the ball down.
On 58 minutes Romain Saiss was replaced by Jon Dadi Bodvarsson who, within seconds of his introduction, went on a surging run down the right and crossed for Dicko who was crowded out before he could get a shot away.
Aluko lost his footing as he ran through and just had Burgoyne to beat, and then the keeper saved from the Scottish striker with his legs. A minute later Burgoyne earned the applause of the crowd when he made a double save from Aluko.
Wolves pulled one back in the 63rd minute when Matt Doherty ran in to convert a low cross from Coady.
More bookings followed with Cairney and Malone being cautioned for fouls on Cavaleiro and Costa respectively. Then Scott Parker took over from Aluko in the Fulham team.
With 73 minutes gone Molineux erupted as Cavaleiro ran onto Doherty’s through ball and from 20-yards he lashed a shot beyond the dive of Button.
Play continued to swing from end to end and after Button had smothered a low cross from Doherty in a crowded goalmouth, the defender was soon back in his own area with a great saving tackle on Chris Martin.
Cairney saw his long-range effort saved by Burgoyne whilst Bodvarsson was too high when he attempted a shot from distance.
In the 87th minute Joao Teixiera and Jack Price were sent on in place of Costa and Coady.
Then, in the final minute of the 90, Edwards looked to have won it for Wolves with a superb strike. Doherty’s throw found Bodvarsson who cleverly played Cavaleiro in. Ayite headed the cross into the air and, as the ball dropped, Dicko attempted an overhead kick.
The ball ran sideways and, from what looked like an impossible angle, Edwards blasted it into the roof of the net.
Wolves had five minutes of added time to overcome but, from the fourth of them, Fulham made it four all as Tomas Kalas nodded Malone’s cross back through the goalmouth and Ayite dived to head his side a share of the spoils.
It had been an afternoon of mixed emotions for both sets of supporters but no-one could deny that it had been first class entertainment.
Wolves: Burgoyne, Doherty, Iorfa, Edwards, Hause, Batth (capt), Costa (Teixeira 87) Saiss (Bodvarsson 58), Dicko, Coady (Price 87), Cavaleiro.
Unused subs: Flatt, Saville, Enobakhare, Borthwick-Jackson.
Bookings: Edwards (16 – foul), Coady (26 – foul), Dicko (63 – foul), Burgoyne (90+2 time wasting).
Fulham: Button, Fredericks, Malone, McDonald, Cairney (capt), Ayite, Ream (Kebano 90+3), Johansen, Aluko (Parker 71), Martin, Kalas.
Unused subs: Bettinelli, Odoi, Kebano, Parker, Sigurdsson, Piazon, Sessegnon.
Bookings: Fredericks (7 – foul), Cairney (69 – foul), Malone (70 – foul).
Referee: D. Bond.