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Report: Wolves 3-1 Bristol City

City were well beaten at Molineux as promotion hopefuls Wolves kept themselves in the hunt for an immediate return to the Championship.

The Robins actually matched their hosts for much of the first half, deservedly cancelling out Nouha Dicko’s early opener through a Sam Baldock penalty on 24 minutes.

But Dicko’s cross deflected in off Derrick Williams just before half-time to fortuitously put the hosts back in front.

And Wolves had several chances to increase their margin of victory in the second period, ultimately having to wait for Bakary Sako to come off the bench and put the game to bed with his side’s third with 14 minutes left.

Steve Cotterill made two changes to his side who came from 2-0 down to claim a point at home to Milton Keynes Dons last time out. 

Right wing-back Scott Wagstaff, usually a certain starter, missed out with a hamstring injury, while Marlon Pack dropped to the bench.

Marvin Elliott took Pack’s place in midfield, while Derrick Williams stepped into the back three with Karleigh Osborne moving out to the right.

A torrential downpour an hour before kick-off made conditions difficult from the off, but it was City who carved out the first notable opportunity.

Jay Emmanuel-Thomas dropped deep and threaded a low pass between defenders for Bobby Reid to run on to and hit a first-time shot which had to be beaten away by rookie Wolves keeper Aaron McCarey.

However, the Robins would soon be falling behind when debutant Dicko, reportedly a target of Cotterill’s earlier this month, dispatched a Lee Evans pass with an instinctive left-footed finish to beat Elliott Parish down by his near post.

The goal apart, it was hard to find too much fault with City’s performance. The hosts were a threat in the final third, as expected, but Parish was otherwise untested before Baldock converted his third spot-kick in little over a month.

It was the skipper who instigated the move, sliding the ball in behind James Henry for Greg Cunningham to chase. When the Irishman got their first, he carried the ball across the front of the winger, who clumsily tapped his ankles from behind to leave referee Nigel Miller with little choice but to point to the spot.

Up stepped Baldock after a lengthy delay to sidefoot the ball confidently into the corner as McCarey dived the wrong way.

By now City were the more confident outfit and the home crowd were beginning to turn as Elliott met Reid’s corner but headed straight at Reid.

At the other end Michael Jacobs let fly from distance with a shot Parish could only parry back into the danger zone before he was bailed out by Osborne’s last-ditch clearance.

And the home side got the lucky break they needed two minutes before the interval when Dicko’s driven cross struck the unfortunate Williams and dribbled into the corner of the net with Parish helpless.

Wolves sensed their opportunity to rub salt into City wounds with a third goal early in the second half to potentially kill off the visiting challenge.

It would take an inspired sequence of defending from Osborne to keep Kenny Jackett’s side at bay. First he threw himself at James Henry’s shot before making a follow-up block from the same player, and then produced more of the same to protect Parish from an Evans drive.

It seemed to galvanise his team-mates too, as Emmanuel-Thomas threatened to find an equaliser with a placed effort pushed away by McCarey before Cunningham cleared the crossbar at the end of the same phase of play.

It was the most open period of the game as the contest approached its three-quarter mark.

A low cross from former City left-back Scott Golbourne found Henry on the penalty spot only for his shot to fly the wrong side of the post, while Emmanuel-Thomas’ 30-yard free kick was tremendously struck but inches wide.

There was no doubt Wolves had improved since the break, and were really upping the ante in their bid to make the game safe.

First Kevin McDonald’s dipping shot had to be tipped over by the acrobatic Parish, before Dicko appeared to be hauled down by Adam El-Abd only for Miller to see nothing wrong.

However, just as Cotterill prepared to bring on Wes Burns as his first change, Wolves substitute Sako latched on to a loose ball with a ruthless first-time strike into the bottom corner from 25 yards.

Dicko and Sako were both tantalisingly close to adding a fourth goal, but that would have been harsh on a City side who were only outplayed when having to chase the game.