Besides ending a bleak run of seven games without a win and keeping the escape hatch ajar, this impressively-achieved victory did much to cheer the Wolves faithful in miserable times.
Carl Cort and Henri Camara claimed the goals which moved the team level with Leicester at the foot of the Premiership, and so effusively did Camara throw himself about that he was even forgiven the poorly directed last-minute penalty which could have embarrassed Middlesbrough further. While arguing his team had played better than this and got nothing, Wolves' manager Dave Jones said: "All I have asked the players to do is just to keep going because you never know. There's still a long way, but we'll just keep plugging away. It's not impossible, that's what we are hanging on to."
Occasionally, Boro stirred themselves sufficiently to reveal their pedigree, but their finishing was woeful and, even when they hit the target, Paul Jones denied them. The only occasion the ball finished in Wolves' net it was directed there by the hand of the captain, Ugo Ehiogu, who was booked for the offence.
Knowing that a poor result could have confirmed the relegation which still looks likely, Wolves applied themselves to winning without ever resorting to extreme or panicky football. In Camara they possessed a striker of pace, trickiness and bravery, and he was well supported by Cort's ability in the air and the way the wingmen, Mark Kennedy and Shaun Newton, managed to get in their crosses.
The skills of Giazka Mendieta and the energetic work of Juninho in midfield troubled Wolves in the first half, with one Mendieta free-kick almost deceiving Paul Jones. Boro missed the chance to go in front when Massimo Maccarone drew Jones before lobbing across to Szilard Nemeth, whose deliberate header towards an untenanted net bounced wide. They were punished immediately. Paul Ince, who had a fine game against his old club, slid a perfect pass down the right touchline for Mark Clyde to hoist a centre to the far post, where Cort's towering header did the rest. "It's what we bought him for," Dave Jones said.
Either side of half-time Paul Jones produced some crucial saves. Before the interval he beat away a Mendieta effort, which took a late deflection, and later twice denied Maccarone at close range, first blocking the striker at the near post and then spreading himself to block with a leg.
Camara's goal just past the hour eased worries. It was as well worked as the first one, too. Lee Naylor's long throw was headed on by Cort and Camara's right-foot volley on the turn found the net via Mark Schwarzer's outstretched hand and an upright. The arrival of Joseph Desiré Job brought Boro's worst miss, a complete failure to connect right in front of goal from Maccarone's inviting low centre. In the final minute, another late substitute, Alex Rae, was tripped in the penalty box by George Boateng. The fact that the over-confident Camara made a hash of the kick did nothing to diminish his popularity or to take the shine off Wolves' day.
Wolverhampton Wanderers 2 Middlesbrough 0
Cort 28, Camara 62
Half-time: 1-0 Attendance: 27,975Reuse content