Wolverhampton Wanderers are celebrating an opening-day victory for the first time in 11 years following a frenetic derby that brought contrasting fortunes to these clubs' new record signings. Steven Fletcher, bought for £3 million in June, scored as Wolves prevailed with two goals in two minutes late in the first half but there was utter dejection for Kenwyne Jones, the man who on Wednesday became an £8m Stoke City player.
He was on crutches with an ankle injury suffered after 10 minutes and his manager Tony Pulis said: "He's having scans and X-rays and him going off knocked the wind out of our sails. We dropped off so deep, it was embarrassing." Jones scored three times against Wolves for Sunderland last season and was inches away from hurting them again inside three minutes, latching on to Ricardo Fuller's pass, holding off Jody Craddock and Christophe Berra and scooping a right-foot shot against the bar.
Craddock had warned that he would stand up to the challenge of facing the striker again and was soon true to his word with some less than friendly words and a crunching midfield tackle that took the ball and then plenty of the man. Jones was distraught as he knelt head-down in the technical area after failing to respond to three minutes of treatment.
He was not alone in the wars. Rory Delap and the debutant Jelle van Damme needed attention to head injuries, then Fletcher's foot felt the full force of an Abdoulaye Faye challenge that had a hint of revenge about it and he limped off just after half-time. Like Craddock's, the tackle was just about permissible but there was clear feeling between these old Staffordshire rivals in a compelling spectacle.
Wolves had the ball in the net through David Jones after Fletcher was adjudged to have fouled Thomas Sorensen, who was then relieved to see Fletcher's volley balloon yards over from Van Damme's cross.
Wolves suddenly took firm control though by making a mockery of their status as the Premier League's lowest home scorers (13) last season. Any relief Stoke felt when Dean Whitehead's foul on Kevin Foley was given just outside the area proved short-lived as Karl Henry rolled back a pass that Jones flicked up and volleyed in brilliantly off the bar left-footed.
The in-form midfielder is in the last year of his contract after talks over a new deal collapsed this week and saw his side double their lead two minutes later. An unlikely cross from Berra inside the area floated beyond Sorensen for Fletcher to head in from almost on the line.
Stoke, in danger of going three down when the impressive Matt Jarvis was denied by Danny Higginbotham, substituted their substitute, Mamady Sidibe, before pulling one back 10 minutes after half-time. Faye headed home Matthew Etherington's right-wing corner but Wolves were comfortable from then on, with Stephen Ward and Jarvis threatening further goals.
"It wasn't necessarily a convincing win but it was a convincing performance," said their manager Mick McCarthy. "We played well."
Referee: Lee Probert
Man of the match: D Jones
Match rating: 7/10Reuse content