Wolves 2 Crawley Town 1
Billy Clarke looked to have earned Reds a deserved point on their first visit to Molineux only for Crawley to be beaten by a controversial Leigh Griffiths’ penalty in the last minute of stoppage time.
It was harsh on the visitors who had carried the game to their hosts for long periods, only to let the points slip in a dramatic finsle in front of 17,006 fans.
Richie Barker had made three changes for Reds’ first trip to Molineux with Joe Walsh, Dannie Bulman and Gary Alexander all recalled in an experienced line-up. Josh Simpson started at right back with James Hurst, Mark Connolly and Jamie Proctor dropping to the bench.
With an expectant crowd behind them, Wolves made a strong start and Paul Jones had already been called into action when Reds fell behind in the seventh minute.
Two minutes earlier Jones had clawed a header from Bjorn SIGURDARSON around the post but he had no chance when Kevin Doyle stood up an inviting cross which the Icelandic striker met with a firm header after getting above Joe Walsh.
It was the worst possible start for Reds but they responded well and should have been in front, never mind level, by the break.
Having ridden the early storm they nearly equalised when Nicky Adams met a cross from Mat Sadler in a great position but his shot lacked pace and trickled past the post.
Bakary Sako headed wide at the other end but Reds were growing into the game and on 23 minutes Walsh missed a great chance to equalise. Mike Jones’ angled ball in was cushioned down by Alexander but Walsh, under pressure from a defender, stabbed his shot wide from eight yards when his fourth goal of the season beckoned.
Reds were undeterred and continued to impress. Carl Ikeme made a decent save from Adams’ drive, Billy Clarke shot disappointingly off target when well placed and the momentum was maintained at the start of the second half when Ikeme had to push a low shot from Adams around the post.
As the home fans found their voice again the game got increasingly stretched. Reds continued to look threatening but they were nearly two down on 63 minutes when Zeli Ismail’s inviting cross was met by Sigurdarson, but Jones made a brave save.
Reds’ keeper did even better a few minutes later when he pushed a free kick from Bakary Sako around the post as the hosts looked to put the game to bed.
Reds made their first change midway through the second half when Mark Connolly, a former Wolves player, came on for Walsh then Leigh Griffiths and Kevin McDonald came on for the home side.
Ismail then forced Jones into another save but at the other end following a well-worked corner Mike Jones came onto a corner 25 yards out and hit a rising drive just over the apex of post and bar.
Barker then made a double change with Proctor and Luke Rooney replacing Bulman and Drury coming off and as the game entered stoppage time Reds got the equaliser they deserved.
Once again Adams was involved in the build-up and when his pass found Proctor he slipped CLARKE into some space and the striker drilled a low shot beyond the keeper and in off the far post.
The Reds fans were dancing with delight but moments later Wolves got a very harsh penalty. McFadzean was judged to have handled a cross from McDonald and the referee pointed to the spot on the advice of his assistant. It looked a harsh decision but GRIFFITHS made no mistake, driving his corner under Jones to snatch a deserved point away from Crawley.