Chesterfield 0 Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 (Chesterfield win 6-5 on penalties)
Wolverhampton Wanderers were sent crashing from the Carling Cup by League One Chesterfield last night after a penalty shoot-out ended with skipper Jody Craddock blasting over the bar.
But, hard though it is to exit any competition in this manner, it was no less than Mick McCarthy's men deserved on a miserable, wet evening at Saltergate.
In keeping with the League Cup's modern-day reputation for being a testing ground for reserve players with a point to prove, McCarthy made six changes to the team who claimed him his first away win as Wolves boss at Burnley on Saturday.
Carl Ikeme, midfielders Denes Rosa and Seyi Olofinjana and Tomasz Frankowski were all given their first starts of the season. Loan man Darren Potter stepped up from the bench and there was a debut for teenage defender Mark Little at right back. But there was no place for Wolves' longest-serving player Lee Naylor, who had travelled to Glasgow in anticipation of his expected move to Celtic.
The two teams have agreed terms over the proposed player-plus-cash swap deal that will see promising young Celtic left-back Charlie Mulgrew come to Molineux as a straight replacement. It would appear that, subject to medicals, the deal is done.
With half his best team missing, including the new first-choice strikeforce of the injured Jay Bothroyd and benched Jemal Johnson, Wolves were a sadly limited threat.
The previously out-offavour Frankowksi did have one early chance when slipped in by Rosa, but goalkeeper Barry Roche was able to parry. And the Pole still without a goal otherwise did little else to suggest he was due to break his duck.
At the other end, the spirited Spireites twice had dangerous crosses fly across the face untouched and Paul Hall was just wide with their best effort.
Even with Leon Clarke on at the break, it was inevitable that the second 45 minutes would prove more exciting than the first.
Wolves needed Ikeme to come to the rescue when he was forced to block with his legs from Hall - the game's first real save having taken until nearly the hour mark. But the visitors' response was immediate, Rohan Ricketts' run to the by-line forcing a near-post save.
That was enough to persuade McCarthy to put on Saturday's debut matchwinner, Johnson, to provide some sense of urgency. But it was the Spireites who came closest to breaking the deadlock in normal time.
Derek Niven's header, from Wolves old boy Colin Larkin's cross, forced Ikeme into another save.
Incessant rain, of an increasingly torrential quality, had blighted the evening and it was becoming almost unplayable by the end of the 90 minutes but penalties had started to look almost inevitable long before the end.
Ikeme almost lost it when he nearly let Larkin's low shot slide through his legs off the wet turf and, right in the dying seconds, Ricketts' shot trickled along the goal line but those dreaded spotkicks duly arrived.
Ikeme got his hand to the second, then dived low to his right to save a dreadful effort from home substitute Alex Bailey. The match then went with serve until, with the chance to win it, Karl Henry had the final of the regulation spotkicks saved.
Then it was into sudden death and Wolves' nerve cracked first, captain Craddock's awful effort sailing almost comically over the crossbar.