Wolves 1 (Carty 68) Middlesbrough 4 (Gibson 19, Hackney 42, Balde 45, Burrell 71)
Wolves fell to a second successive Premier League 2 defeat, with Conor Carty’s goal being a consolation against league leaders Middlesbrough.
Aiming to get back to winning ways in Division 2 after a Papa John’s Trophy win before the international break, Wolves started the brightest at Aggborough, but found chances few and far between.
Taylor Perry had a good opportunity to put his side ahead but a mix-up with Conor Carty saw the players get in each other’s way to halt the move abruptly, before Hugo Bueno had a goalbound shot deflected clear.
Having shown signs of getting back into the contest, Middlesbrough took the lead with just under 20 minutes on the clock when Joseph Gibson found space on the right before cutting inside and curling his effort past Andreas Sondergaard and inside the far post from the edge of the penalty area.
Wolves tried to get back at their opposition, with Carty and Theo Corbeanu driving at the Middlesbrough defence, but just minutes before the half-time whistle, the visitors made it two.
Midfielder Hayden Hackney stepped up to a free-kick, 20 yards out from goal, and sent the ball over the wall and into the top corner of Sondergaard’s net.
Moments later, Rumarn Burrell came close to scoring, but Cyriaque Mayounga was able to deflect the ball away. However, Middlesbrough didn’t have to wait long for their third when Alberto Balde Almanzar tapped the ball home from close range.
In spite of the scoreline, Wolves did not come out in the second-half with their heads down, and even hit the bar in the opening five minutes of the restart when Carty floated what looked like a cross towards goal, but hit the top of Zach Hemming’s crossbar.
Another glorious opportunity went begging for Wolves just ten minutes into the second-half when Nigel Lonwijk headed over at the far post from an invitingly lifted cross into the Boro box from Owen Hesketh.
Hemming was tested for the first time when Carty was able to spin on the edge of the area before firing a low effort towards goal, but the Middlesbrough keeper was able to comfortably gather the ball.
Seconds after Wolves came inches from going 4-0 down when Burrell hit the crossbar, James Collins’ side went racing down the other end of the pitch and got one back. Hugo Bueno found space down the left before cutting it inside to Carty, who fired an effort on the turn past Hemming.
With Wolves hoping to turn the game in their favour, Bueno came close to pulling Wolves within one goal, but instead, Middlesbrough extended their lead as Burrell turned through the gold and black defence in the area before slotting the ball underneath Sondergaard.
Wolves made a double change with 15 minutes remaining, brining on Luke Matheson and Jack Hodnett and it almost paid immediate dividends when the latter – making his debut for the under-23s having moved up recently from the under-18s – curled a great effort towards goal, but Hemming was at full stretch to keep it out.
James Collins’ under-23s have a week without a match before travelling back up to the north east to take on Newcastle United a week on Monday.
30/11 Newcastle United (A)
14/12 West Bromwich Albion (A)
18/12 Norwich City (A)
18/01 Burnley (A)
24/01 Leeds (H)
*indicates first-team opposition
Wolves: Sondergaard, Buur (Matheson 78), Lonwijk (Estrada 86), Tipton, Mayounga, Bueno, Cundle, Perry, Hesketh, Corbeanu, Carty (Hodnett 77).
Unused subs: Nya, Hong Wan.
Middlesbrough: Hemming, Gibson, Sykes, Robinson, Kokolo, Jones, Balde (Kiernan 81), Cornet (Green 72), Hackney, Fletcher, Burrell (Wilson 87).
Unused subs: Swann, Williams.