Jay Bothroyd last night reminded a Championship audience why four Premiership clubs, and one from Serie A, have tried to harness his talent. Making his home debut for Wolves, the Londoner struck a fine goal from 25 yards to deflate Ipswich midway through the first half.
His partner, Carl Cort, had a less auspicious evening, being dismissed and leaving Wolves' 10 men 54 minutes to preserve an unbeaten start under the new management of Mick McCarthy. Soon after his exit, Matt Murray saved a penalty from Ipswich's Matt Richards and condemned Jim Magilton's side to a second defeat in four days.
Wolves' win was all the more commendable for the fact that none of the starting XI from Glenn Hoddle's home swansong late last season was in McCarthy's first Molineux selection. A team hastily constructed by the former Sunderland manager showed greater cohesion than Ipswich, whose performance left Magilton "seething".
McCarthy, asked to comment on Wolves' "battling" display, claimed the adjective did them "a disservice". While praising Bothroyd for a "fabulous goal", the Yorkshireman said he had not yet seen Cort's red-card offence, but added: "If he raised his hands [to Ipswich's Gavin Williams] he gave the referee the opportunity to send him off."
Magilton conceded his side had lost to "a great goal". Yet he bemoaned the "sloppy defending" that allowed Bothroyd to tee up his drive, saying: "That just wasn't good enough. I said at half-time that if we kept the ball moving, and got it wide early, we'd have every chance. But we didn't do it."
Bothroyd, whom McCarthy described as having looked unfit at Plymouth on Saturday, scored in the 27th minute. Taking Rohan Ricketts' pass, the newcomer from Charlton took aim with his left foot and the ball flashed inside Shane Supple's left-hand post.
Nine minutes later, however, Cort pushed off Williams as the pair tangled. The Ipswich player fell to the turf and the referee, Trevor Kettle, instantly reached for the red card. On the stroke of half-time, Jody Craddock fouled Nicky Forster. Murray, in his first home game since January 2005, dived to his right to parry Richards' spot-kick.
Magilton introduced Alan Lee and then Darren Currie in an attempt to enliven a lacklustre side. Wolves were pushed on to ever deeper defence, but Ipswich seldom exploited their numerical advantage with intelligence.
Wolverhampton Wanderers (4-4-2): Murray; Clyde (Edwards, h-t), Craddock, Breen, L Naylor (Olofinjana, 49); Ricketts, Henry, O'Connor, Clapham; Bothroyd (C Davies, 65), Cort. Substitutes not used: Oakes (gk), Clarke.
Ipswich Town (4-4-2): Supple; Rodriguez, R Naylor, De Vos, Harding; Peters (Parkin, 85), Bruce, Williams, Richards (Currie, 63); Bowditch (Lee, 53), Forster. Substitutes not used: Price (gk), Wilnis.
Referee: T Kettle (Berkshire).