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Match Report

 

Posted Fri 24 Feb 17 at 21:45 PM

Report: Wolves 1 Blues 2

Gianfranco Zola picked up his second win as Blues boss at Molineux and what a win it was.

First-half goals from Maikel Kieftenbeld and David Davis sparked scenes in the away end.

Despite seeing Paul Robinson sent off early in the second-half and a barrage of Wolves' attacks late on, Blues held on to claim a deserved victory.

Gianfranco Zola made three changes to his starting XI at Molineux. Paul Robinson replacing the injured Jonathan Grounds with both David Davis and Craig Gardner returning from suspension.

The hosts had the better of the opening exchanges and gave Blues a couple of early scares. Helder Costa's early free-kick nearly deceived Kuszczak on its way over the bar; and minutes later Kuszczak was on hand to claim a dangerous cross, which he did well not to carry back over his own goal-line.

Blues grew into the match and it was last week's goalscorer, Emilio Nsue, who had Zola's side's first effort on goal when he peeled away from Matt Doherty at the far post but his volley was deflected wide of Carl Ikeme's post.

Richard Stearman then saw his header fall inches wide of Kuszczak's post as the Wolves defender lost his marker, Maikel Kieftenbeld, and headed his effort back across goal but couldn't find the far corner.

Then, Gianfranco Zola and Blues found a slice of luck that had eluded them in recent weeks as Kieftenbeld put Blues ahead on 27 minutes. Wolves 'keeper Ikeme making a hash of Gardner's cross from the right, allowing Kieftenbeld to slot home into an empty net.

Things got even better for Zola five minutes later when much to the delight of the home crowd, the returning David Davis reacted quickest to Che Adams' deflected cross to fire past Ikeme to double the visitors advantage.

With a frustrated home crowd behind them, Wolves pushed on trying to pull a goal back before the interval. Jon Dadi Bodvarsson - whose last goal came at the return fixture earlier in the season - saw his free header sail over the top and full back Doherty saw his powerful effort from the edge of the area well blocked by Ryan Shotton.

A brilliant opening 45 minutes for Zola's side as the boos rang around Molineux on the referee's whistle.

Both sides re-emerged for the second-half with a real intensity and Wolves fans thought their side were in after a Josh Dacres-Cogley slip but luckily for Blues, Shotton was on hand to disposses Andi Weiman.

Danny Batth went close moments later when he rose highest to Costa's inswinging free-kick, but couldn't keep his header down.

Then, with the second-half barely five minutes old, Blues were reduced to ten men when referee Stephen Martin showed captain Paul Robinson a straight red card after an altercation with Bodvarsson. On came Krystian Bielik instantly to sure up the Blues back-line.

Despite the dismissal of Robinson, Blues continued to flow forward and in an uncharacteristic position, Cheick Keita found himself cutting in from the right and saw his powerful effort well blocked.

Just after the hour mark, half-time substitute Nouha Dicko was superbly denied by Kuszczak from close range. The striker, rising highest to Costa's cross but his header from 5-yards out was brilliantly beaten away by the Polish stopper.

Wolves did however force their way back into the contest as Dicko swept the ball home after 73 minutes. Costa pouncing on a poor pass from Nsue - intended for Dacres-Cogley - before fizzing in a low cross from the left, setting up Dicko for an easy finish in the middle.

With the home support behind them, Wolves went in search of the equaliser and very nearly got it with ten minutes remaining. Another dangerous Costa delivery was glanced wide by Dicko at the near post.

Wolves continued to press as Doherty's header fell just wide of Kuszczak's post.

Ryan Shotton was able to breath a huge sigh of relief when his misjudged clearance just about had enough legs on it for Kuszczak to claim ahead of the on-rushing Wolves attack.

As the 90th minute loomed, Bielik made a vital interception as Wolves looked to get in down the left-hand side again; then in stoppage-time Doherty saw his header fire over the top as Blues looked to close out the victory.

And that they did, Kieftenbeld and Davis' first-half goals proved enough, after what was a resilient and hard-working second-half with ten men.

A great win for Gianfranco Zola and his side.

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