Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 Reading 3
Wolverhampton Wanderers’ seemingly unstoppable promotion bid was shot down in flames as Mick McCarthy’s side were given a lesson in top flight football by Reading.
Supporters came to Molineux expecting to see history made. But, instead of a club record equalling eight straight league wins, Wolves fans had to suffer a statistic of another kind – their second worst home defeat since Mick McCarthy took charge two years ago.
The first blow of a dismal night for Wolves’ previously buoyant fans was self-inflicted inside the first four minutes by a disastrous own goal. The mere presence of the Championship’s top scorer Kevin Doyle was enough to panic Wayne Hennessey into steering Stephen Hunt’s corner into his own net – and that rapidly ended any hopes of Wolves notching up another victory.
But, on a night made even crueller by the premature loss of both of the wingers, Michael Kightly and Matt Jarvis, perhaps the most worrying and depressing sight for McCarthy was seeing his side so comprehensively outplayed.
In comparison to the sky-high confidence outfit who had rattled in 23 goals in eight games to storm to the top of the table, McCarthy’s men were made to look like a bunch of plodders.
With just five minutes gone, the recalled Hennessey got into bother trying to deal with Hunt’s near front-post corner under pressure, and succeeded only in palming the ball into his own net.
It was a hammer blow that silenced the Wolves crowd, who then went even quieter when captain Karl Henry appeared to get away with a handball in his own box.
And, with relegated Reading looking comfortably the best team Wolves have played so far, there was another huge sigh of relief when home centre-half when Richard Stearman got away with only a booking after going through Noel Hunt.
But that was nothing to the close shave when Doyle got his head on the end of another Hunt corner, only to have it cleared off the line by Kevin Foley.
Straight from that near-miss, Wolves raced up-field, and Kightly set up Andy Keogh for a great chance. But a bad first touch left the ball stuck under his feet, he needed too much time and shot feebly at Marcus Hahnemann.
Kightly then blew another chance when, set clear by a great ball from David Jones, he looked to pass to Keogh instead of shooting.
To add to Wolves woes, the injured Kightly’s disappearance down the tunnel with what looked like a hamstring injury before the break further limited any hopes they might have had of getting something.
And things looked no brighter on the restart when they immediately survived an astonishing double let-off.
In the same mad scramble, Mali midfielder Jimmy Kebe hit the post, before Wolves old boy Ivar Ingimarsson’s follow-up shot was blocked by Hennessey’s legs.
Wolves did have half a chance when, following a battling run by Foley, sub Sam Volkes’ shot was deflected over off Liam Rosenior but it was then over as a contest when Noel Hunt set up Andre Bikey to score from close range.
And, with Jarvis then also forced out of the contest, Wolves had their noses further rubbed in it when Reading’s two subs, Shane Long and Kalifa Cisse came off the bench to set up a beautifully worked third.
Scorers: Hennessey og 4, Bikey 71, Cisse 88.
WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS(4-4-2): Hennessey; Foley, Stearman, Collins, S Ward (Shackell 75); Kightly (Volkes 40), Henry, David Jones, Jarvis (Edwards 75); Keogh, Ebanks-Blake. Substitutes: Ikene (gk), Gray.
READING (4-4-2): Hahnemann; Rosenior, Bikey, Ingimarsson, Armstrong; Kebe, Gunnarsson, Karacan (Cisse 80), S Hunt; Doyle, N Hunt (Long, 80). Substitutes: Henry, Anderson, Kelly.
Referee: Rob Shoebridge (Derbyshire).
Booked: Wolves: Stearman (foul).