Chorley 0 Wolves 1 (Vitinha 12)
Wolves made it into the fifth round of this season’s Emirates FA Cup following a narrow victory over non-league outfit Chorley.
Having suffered an embarrassing defeat to the Lancashire side in the competition back in 1986, Wolves had to battle hard to not experience something similar this time out, as Vitinha’s first-half wonderstrike from 35 yards proved to be the difference.
Despite facing a side six divisions lower than themselves, Wolves started the game with a strong starting 11, as Conor Coady, Willy Boly, Joao Moutinho, Leander Dendoncker and Fabio Silva maintained their place from the weekend’s Premier League line-up.
Dominating much of the early possession, Wolves had opportunities to open the scoring at Victory Park through the front two of Patrick Cutrone and Silva, but the National League North side’s defence stood up strong.
Yet the hosts weren’t without chances of their own as Elliot Newby and Willem Tomlinson both tested John Ruddy, but the Wolves goalkeeper was able to comfortably smoother their efforts.
The opening goal came with 12 minutes on the clock and it was a stunner from the boot of Vitinha. The Portuguese under-21 international picked up the ball 35 yards out from goal before driving a swerving effort into the top corner and beyond the reach of Matt Urwin in the Chorley stick, for his first goal in gold and black.
As the first-half went on, both sets of players were finding it difficult to find a killer final ball, as Chorley were lifting plenty of crosses into the Wolves penalty area which were headed away by the back three in gold shirts.
With just seconds to go before the half-time blew, Cutrone decided to take a chance from distance as he aimed a strike towards the top corner, but his shot flew narrowly over Urwin’s crossbar.
Half-time: Chorley 0 Wolves 1
Chorley began the second-half brightly and almost caught Wolves nappy, as has been the case for several recent matches for the visitors, who once again came out off the pace in the second period.
Connor Hall, who has scored in the first, second and third rounds of this season’s FA Cup, met a cross into the box but his flicked header was gathered in by Ruddy, before a slip-up in the Wolves defence allowed Hall to get in behind Boly, but the Chorley forward was unable to keep his shot down.
Wolves had Ruddy to thank as the veteran stopper made a stunning one-handed save to deny defender Andy Halls who was not picked up at the far post and his goalbound header had to be turned over the crossbar.
With Chorley well on top of the match in the second-half, Nuno made a triple substitution with just over 20 minutes of the game remaining in the hope of turning the tide in his side’s favour, as Adama Traore, Pedro Neto and Ruben Neves entered the fray.
The trio added a new impetus into the men in gold and black, as Wolves enjoyed a greater spell of possession of the game headed towards full-time, yet the visitors were still struggling to test Urwin in the Magpies’ goal, and had to settle for just the single-goal victory.
The win sets Wolves up with a FA Cup fifth round tie against either Southampton or Arsenal.
Full-time: Chorley 0 Wolves 1
Chorley: Urwin, Birch, Halls, Leather, Baines (Miller 84), Tomlinson, Newby, Calveley, Shenton (Henley 84), Hall (Smith 87), Cardwell.
Unused subs: Putnam, Garratt, Malakai, Roberts, Dutton, Birchall.
Wolves: Ruddy, Hoever, Boly, Coady, Kilman, Ait-Nouri, Dendoncker, Moutinho (Traore 68), Vitinha (Neves 68), Cutrone (Neto 68), Silva.
Unused subs: Patricio, Semedo, Lonwijk, Richards, Neves, Otasowie, Adama, Corbeanu, Neto.
Referee: Anthony Taylor