Town 0 Wolves 1
Town: Chris Weale, Connor Goldson, Joe Jacobson (c), Darren Jones, Ryan Woods, Jon Taylor, Luke Summerfield, Adam Reach (McAllister, 86), Aaron Wildig, Tom Bradshaw (Burke, 71), Curtis Main
Substitutes: Joe Anyon, Dom Smith, Alex McQuade, Dave Winfield, Kaiman Anderson
Wolverhampton Wanderers: Carl Ikeme, Matt Doherty, Danny Batth, David Davis, Leigh Griffiths (Cassidy, 66), Bakaay Sako, Kevin McDonald, Bjorn Sigurdarson (Foley, 90), Sam Ricketts (c), Zeli Ismail (Edwards, 65), Scott Golbourne
Substitutes: Richard Stearman, Jack Price, Liam McCalinden, Aaron McCarey, Kevin Foley
Referee: Philip Gibbs
Assistants: Simon Barrow & Mark Duncan
Fourth Official: Edward Smart
Attendance: 9,510 (league record) 1,593 from Wolverhampton
Martin Wild reports from Greenhous Meadow
Town’s long awaited first league meeting with neighbours Wolves ended in late drama at the Greenhous. Jon Taylor was sent off for what was deemed to be deliberate handball and Bakary Sako blasted home the resultant pen to end Salop’s unbeaten home record.
As expected Paul Parry’s hip injury kept him out of this lunchtime clash with Adam Reach taking his place on the left hand side of midfield. The big news from Wolves was no place for Republic of Ireland striker Kevin Doyle with a thigh problem keeping him out.
There was almost an incredible start straight from the kick off. Town turned the ball back towards Connor Goldson and his pass to keeper Chris Weale didn’t carry the greatest amount of pace on it. The keeper’s intended clearance upfield struck Bjorn Sigurdarson closing down the space but thankfully it landed wide of the goal or Shrews would have been behind after 10 seconds!
There was a nice moment when both sets of supporters sang the name of Town chief Graham Turner, who of course used to manage the Old Golds back in the 80’s. Turner applauded Town and Wolves fans alike and it was clear he is still held in high regard by the Wolves fans.
Wolves started well and it took a terrific full length save from Weale on 6 minutes to deny Sako whose precision effort from outside the box was destined for the bottom right hand corner.
There was a cracking tempo to the game with a brilliant atmosphere inside the packed out Meadow. Town also looked a threat going forward and a typical burst from Aaron Wildig took him right into the heart of the penalty area but Carl Ikeme was alert to the danger and sprung from his line to smother. Curtis Main shot wide of the upright as Salop continued to compete well with the League One title favourites.
After 17 minutes Town had their best opportunity. Main’s delightful cross eluded the Wolves centre back’s and in ghosted Taylor to nudge the ball goalwards. It was a fairly routine save for Ikeme but helped crank up the decibel levels in the home stands. It went up another notch when Ryan Woods tried his luck from 35 yards and forced Ikeme into a fully extended stop with no-one on hand to pounce on the loose ball.
It was Shrews’ best spell of the match and Reach was next to set his sights on Wanderers goal. This time with Ikeme beaten, the ball landed a yard or so wide with Town right at the top of their game as an offensive unit.
The stadium was bathed in sunshine with a record crowd inside and there had been plenty of entertainment inside the opening half hour. There was another uncomfortable moment for Goldson though when another attempted clearance was closed down by Leigh Griffiths, who looked all-set to inflict maximum damage. But he appeared to be caught in two minds and Weale was able to gather much more comfortably than he might have expected.
Sigurdarson was then denied by a smart block from Weale after being set up by Griffiths and a couple of Wolves corners came to nothing as the visitors began to apply a bit of pressure. It almost paid off too when Sigurdarson headed against the post and Reach’s odd-looking clearance rippled the side netting. Then Sako’s superb ball across the 6 yard line missed everyone in a gold shirt as Town continued to live dangerously.
Both sides had enjoyed spells in the ascendancy during a highly charged encounter but went down the tunnel on level terms and to deserved applause.
Half Time: Town 0 Wolverhampton Wanderers 0
The second half didn’t begin with quite the levels of intensity that the opening 45 had provided. But Kevin McDonald’s decision to try and pick out Sigurdarson looked a peculiar one with the shooting opportunity easily the better option. The execution of the pass was poor and the glorious opening was wasted.
Bang on the hour marker came the most incredible of misses and the hugest of let-offs for the visitors. Reach played Taylor into acres of space and the winger’s pinpoint low cross found Main unmarked and no more than a couple of yards out. Somehow though, his first goal in Town colours continues to elude him as he lifted the ball over the top. Despite the miss, it brought Town’s fans to life and a Taylor corner, although cleared initially, was struck first time by Luke Summerfield into the grateful arms of Ikeme.
Wolves boss Kenny Jackett decided on a double substitution introducing Town old boy Dave Edwards for Zeli Ismail and the ineffective Griffiths was also withdrawn with Jake Cassidy entering the fray with about 25 minutes left. Five minutes later Turner shuffled his deck for the first time with Tom Bradshaw being replaced by Graham Burke.
For all the world, it looked like a single goal would be enough to bank the points and former loanee David Davis was the recipient of the game’s first card with 15 minutes left. He was somewhat fortunate to receive only a yellow for a horrible looking almost waist-high challenge on Taylor which dumped the Scouser to the turf sidelining him from a brief spell.
Summerfield’s header was fractionally high after the midfielder had timed his run to perfection to get into position 12 yards out, and he might have been disappointed not to at least have worked Ikeme in the Wolves goal.
With eight minutes left there was a huge decision for the referee but it was the assistant on the far side who spotted an infringement. Taylor did brilliantly to keep out Matt Doherty’s bullet header but he was adjudged to have handled and the ref immediately pointed to the spot. Off trudged a disconsolate Taylor and Sako stepped up to smash the spot kick straight down the middle to break Town hearts late on.
Full Time: Town 0 Wolverhampton Wanderers 1