Wolves 0 Stoke City 1 (Brown 87)
Wolves dropped out of the 2020/21 Carabao Cup at the first hurdle after falling to a 1-0 defeat to Stoke City in front of an empty Molineux.
Jacob Brown’s second-half effort in the behind closed doors clash was enough to secure The Potters’ place in the third round of the competition at the expense of Nuno Espirito Santo’s side.
Making six changes to the line-up which began Monday’s Premier League victory against Sheffield United, Nuno’s men were in complete control of the contest in the early stages, but came up against a stubborn Stoke defence who were not leaving gaps for the side in old gold to exploit.
Club record signing Fabio Silva, making his debut for Wolves, had the first glimpse of an opportunity when he was able to take the ball on his chest between Stoke’s backline, but the 18-year-old was unable to get his shot on target.
Wolves continued to put pressure on the visitors throughout the first-half, with Leander Dendoncker having the best of the chances in the opening 20 minutes when he attempted to direct a Ruben Neves cross goalbound, but the Belgian’s effort flew wide of Adam Davies’ upright.
Although Wolves saw much of the ball throughout the first 45 minutes, with Stoke rarely threatening John Ruddy in the host’s goal, the team in gold and black found opportunities hard to come by. Adama Traore used his tricky feet to get past several in red and white but the visiting defence stood strong and saw out the first-half goalless.
Half-time: Wolves 0 Stoke 0
After a slow start following the break, it was the visitors who had the first opportunity of the second period to take the lead, when Harry Souttar rose highest from a corner, but his header was straight at Ruddy in the Wolves goal.
The best of the chances continued to fall to Stoke, with ex-Wolves man Steven Fletcher, on as a substitute for another former gold and black striker Sam Vokes, aiming an effort at goal with his first touch, but the ball was deflected over Ruddy’s crossbar.
Another substitute made an impact on proceedings as Pedro Neto used his pace to unlock the Stoke defence, with the winger – playing as a centre midfielder – bursting through the centre of the pitch before laying the ball off to Silva, who switched it onto his right, but his curling shot was blocked.
Neto was involved once again moments later with Wolves coming close to opening the scoring. The Portuguese lifted a free-kick into the area and the ball dropped at the back post to the feet of Silva, but he can’t get a stretched effort to go the right side of the upright.
Despite Wolves’ dominance having brought on enforcements from the bench, Stoke took the lead with less than five minutes of the game remaining. Brown was picked out on the left hand side of the area, and with no Wolves defenders around him, he fired a strong effort towards Ruddy, but the keeper could not get a strong enough hand to stop it ending up in the back of the net.
With the game heading in Stoke’s direction, Wolves continued to push for an equaliser, with Silva picking up the ball just inside the penalty area, but the Portuguese striker couldn’t keep his shot from rising up and over Davies’ crossbar, with the side from Staffordshire doing enough to make it into the next round of the cup.
Full-time: Wolves 0 Stoke 1
Wolves: Ruddy, Buur (Jimenez 66), Boly, Coady, Saiss, Vinagre, Neves, Dendoncker (Podence 79), Vitinha (Neto 60), Traore, Silva.
Unused subs: Patricio, Marcal, Moutinho, Shabani.
Stoke: Davies, Smith, Collins, Souttar, Martins Indi, McClean (Cousins 90), Thompson, Tymon, Oakley-Boothe, Gregory (Brown 70), Vokes (Fletcher 64).
Unused subs: Noukeu, Fox, Batth, Campbell.
Referee: Simon Hooper