Wolves 2 (Sanderson 14’, Francis 85’) Stoke City 1 (Jarvis 25’)
A late Ed Francis strike kept Wolves under-23s in the hunt for automatic promotion, as Rob Edwards’ side beat Stoke City 2-1 at Molineux.
Dion Sanderson’s thumping header was quickly cancelled out by Daniel Jarvis’ strike before half-time, in a game Wolves knew only a victory would realistically suffice.
The hosts, in front of an impressive Molineux crowd, piled forward towards the end and were rewarded when Francis pounced, following Elliot Watt’s corner.
Despite Stoke boasting three first-team players, Wolves began the brighter and Watt flashed an effort wide from range, while home goalkeeper, Andreas Sondergaard did brilliantly to turn Scott Wara’s header onto the crossbar.
It was Wolves’ own set piece which wielded the opening goal however, as Sanderson rose highest to send Watt’s corner back where it came from, with a Stoke defender unable to clear off his own goalline.
The lead didn’t last for long though, as Mame Biram Diouf teed up Jarvis to roll a left-footed effort into the corner.
Back came Wolves, first Carlos Heredia headed wide from Ryan Giles’ inviting cross, before Austin Samuels bent an effort around the post from the edge of the area.
After the break Stoke improved and they should have taken the lead for the first time through Tre Pemberton, when he raced through on goal but shot wide. Sondergaard then had to get down low to deny Thibaud Verlinden.
Wolves began to take risks in search of a vital victory and Giles’ powerful strike needed deflecting behind by the Stoke defence with ten minutes remaining.
The same man came even closer soon after. Now operating further forward, Giles ran at the Stoke defence and placed an effort narrowly wide, with the aid of a deflection, after cutting onto his left foot.
From the resulting corner Wolves edged ahead for a second time. Watt’s corner wasn’t dealt with by City stopper, Nathan Broome, and Francis had the awareness to turn a fire home, again after hitting a Stoke man on the way through.
The under-23s conclude their Premier League 2 Division 2 campaign away at Manchester United a week on Friday. Edwards’ side defeated United at Molineux back in the autumn.
Wolves: Sondergaard, Buur, Sanderson, Francis, Richards, Giles, Diallo, Watt, Goncalves (Alves 81), Heredia (Kitolano 55), Samuels (Sauvage 90).
Unused subs: Pardington, Molberg.
Stoke: Broome, Baur, Tymon, Dunwoody, Wara, Collins, Pemberton (Toure 61), Shenton, Diouf, Jarvis, Verlinden (Coates 79).
Unused subs: Kanuric, Twyford, Kyeremateng.