Wolves swept into fourth place in the Championship last night, stretching Derby's run to 16 league and cup games with only one win in the process, although it was the identity of the scorers as much as the victory itself that caught the attention of the respective sets of fans.
George Ndah, without a goal in two-and-a-half injury-ravaged years, came off the bench to head Wolves in front after 67 minutes. With 10 minutes remaining, a deft back-heeled pass by Vio Ganea enabled Tom Huddlestone to stroke the second against the club he left in a £2.5m deal. Ganea drilled the third from Lee Naylor's 86th-minute pass, fuelling the Derby crowd's dissent against the manager Phil Brown.
For the Derby support, the return of Huddlestone in opposition colours provided a focus for recent frustrations. The towering midfielder, outstanding for the England Under-21 side in their two games with France, left Pride Park for Tottenham this year before moving to Wolves on loan. Predictably, he was booed from the start and the reaction initially seemed to affect his composure as he gave the ball away cheaply.
The early stages proved surprisingly scrappy given that Wolves were playing to climb into the leading pack. They at least forced Lee Camp to break sweat on a freezing night, Mark Kennedy twice trying his luck from long range. Stefan Postma was pressed into action as half-time approached, though he was helpless as Marcus Tudgay's 38th-minute header slapped the bar following a corner by Seth Johnson. Wolves came straight back, Naylor surging through before crossing low to Ganea, only for Peter Whittingham to slide in and clear to prevent a certain goal.
The absence of Wolves' leading scorers, the injured Carl Cort and Kenny Miller, meant that responsibility for leading the line fell on Leon Clarke. It was a task for which the young reserve looked ill-equipped. Soon after the interval, Seol Ki-Heon twisted past two defenders and delivered a ball that veered menacingly across the six-yard box. Neither Clarke nor Ganea had anticipated the pass, and as the South Korean stood with hands on hips and stared at his colleagues, Hoddle substituted Clarke.
Michael Johnson had been injured as he sought to stop Seol and also left the fray. Emerson Thome joined a contest that had belatedly come to life, with Postma sprawling to keep out Idiakez's deflected shot and Clarke's replacement, Ndah, forcing a corner as Wolves countered. Naylor whipped the ball in for Ndah to head home and end his long scoring drought.
Derby County (4-4-2): Camp; R Jackson, Davies, M Johnson (Thome, 56), Whittingham; Bisgaard, Idiakez, S Johnson, Smith; Tudgay (Peschisolido, 72), Blackstock. Substitutes not used: Poole (gk), Bolder, J Jackson.
Wolverhampton Wanderers (4-3-3): Postma; Edwards, Craddock, Lescott, Naylor; Cameron, Huddlestone, Kennedy; Seol, Ganea, Clarke (Ndah, 55). Substitutes not used: Oakes (gk), Olofinjana, Anderton, Gyepes.
Referee: A Leake (Lancashire).Reuse content