FULL-TIME: Wolves 2, Bristol City 1
Wolves scored two goals in three minutes to stun relegation rivals Bristol City and complete a remarkable come-from-behind victory at Molineux.
Trailing to David Davis’s bizarre 26th minute own goal, Wanderers looked to be heading for defeat at the foot of the npower Championship table as a tense game entered its final stages.
But Sylvan Ebanks-Blake rammed in an equaliser in the 75th minute and fellow striker Kevin Doyle headed a dramatic winner moments later to relieve the pressure on under-fire manager Dean Saunders and plunge City back into trouble.
With eight games to go, City are back at the foot of the table and deep in trouble after wins for fellow strugglers Barnsley and Peterborough.
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City last won a game at Molineux way back in March 1931, since when they have lost 13 and drawn six times on visits to the Black Country.
If ever they needed to end that particular record of under-achievement, it was in this nerve-ridden contest between the Championship’s bottom two sides.
If Wolves boss Dean Saunders dropped skipper Karl Henry and opted for an attacking line-up, Robins head coach Sean O’Driscoll named a team designed to keep things tight and frustrate the opposition.
Optimistically billed as a 4-3-3 system, City’s set-up was more a case of 4-5-1 out of possession, Paul Anderson and Stephen Pearson dropping back to support the midfield trio of Liam Kelly, Cole Skuse and Marvin Elliott and leaving Steven Davies to operate as a lone striker.
If the intention was to subdue Wolves and dampen the ardour of a crowd that sensed the importance of the occasion, then O’Driscoll’s plan served its purpose during an opening phase in which the only real goal-scoring opportunity fell to City.
Initiating a lightning-quick counter-attack from the edge of his own penalty area, Robins centre-back Liam Fontaine neatly dissected the home defence with as long pass that invited Davies to drive for the 18 yard box. Having shown gold-shirted defenders a clean pair of heels, however, the Liverpudlian screwed his shot wide from a narrow angle.
Left out of the starting line-up, Albert Adomah entered the fray earlier than expected for a second successive week. A replacement for Jon Stead against Middlesbrough last time out, he was called upon after just 16 minutes at Molineux, coming on for Anderson, who was the unfortunate victim of a shuddering tackle from Wanderers left-back Jack Robinson.
City overcame any inconvenience occasioned by the loss of the former Nottingham Forest man to take the lead in bizarre circumstances on 26 minutes.
There appeared no danger when Wolves keeper Carl Ikeme played a quick goal kick to David Davies, who was positioned on the edge of the box. Closed down by Skuse and suddenly under pressure, the midfielder sought to play the ball back to Ikeme.
His pass was a touch heavy and the ball bounced just in front of the startled keeper, who inadvertently allowed it to squirm between his legs and trickle over the line.
The goal was greeted by stunned silence from home fans and worse followed for Wolves when Bakary Sako pulled up with a tight hamstring moments later and was replaced by Stephen Hunt.
Stung into a response, Wolves poured forward in search of an equaliser and were denied when Fontaine executed a goal-saving block on Republic of Ireland striker Kevin Doyle.
Under-pressure Wolves boss Saunders withdrew the red-faced Ikeme at half-time and sent on Dorus De Vries in his place, leaving himself with no further substitute options for the second period.
City were prepared to sit deep, concede possession, maintain their shape and wait for Wolves to make unforced errors. And there were plenty of those as the home side, bereft of confidence and ideas, huffed and puffed.
Ironic cheers echoed around Molineux when substitute Bjorn Sigurdarson conjured his team’s first on-target effort after 65 minutes, Tom Heaton saving comfortably.
The Icelandic international sent another shot high and wide as Wanderers pressed without quite managing to create a clear-cut opportunity.
Wolves almost equalised in the 71st minute, Matt Doherty racing in at the far post to meet a Davis cross with an angled shot that was brilliantly cleared off the line by Lewin Nyatanga.
The home side were threatening an equaliser and it came with 15 minutes to go. Hunt sought out Ebanks-Blake on the edge of the penalty area and the big striker rolled Nyatanga before beating Heaton with an unstoppable drive from 16 yards out that was still rising as it hit the net.
All the momentum was now with Wanderers and they took the lead three minutes later. Once again, Hunt was the provider, sending over a cross for Doyle to score with a stooping header from close range.
Wolves (4-4-2): Ikeme (De Vries 46); Doherty, Gorkss, Johnson, Robinson; Edwards (Sigurdarson 38), Davis, O’Hara, Sako (Hunt 33); Ebanks-Blake, Doyle.
Bristol City (4-3-3): Heaton; Moloney, Nyatanga, Fontaine, Cunningham; Kelly (Kilkenny 85), Skuse, Elliott; Anderson (Adomah 16), Davies, Pearson (Baldock 81).
Referee: Geoff Eltringham (County Durham).