Towering Crouch signals end of road for Wolves

Stoke City 2 Wolverhampton Wanderers 1: Striker scores trademark goal as Stoke come from behind to take points

britannia stadium

At 5.56 yesterday evening, there was a glimmer of hope for Wolves. The afternoon had brought defeats for Blackburn, Bolton and Wigan, and when Wolves went in front through Michael Kightly's fortuitous strike midway through the first half, they had a chance of closing the six-point gap separating them from safety.

Instead, for the third game running, Terry Connor's side let a lead slip, Robert Huth and Peter Crouch scoring the goals as Stoke hit back to inflict a sixth successive defeat on the Premier League's bottom club.

With home games against Arsenal and Manchester City sandwiching a trip to Sunderland in the next fortnight, it is difficult to see where Wolves' next point is coming from. Connor has managed just one since Wolves appointed him as Mick McCarthy's successor seven matches ago, though he felt his side deserved better for their efforts yesterday. "We fought every inch, we were up for it, we played the game and got beaten from a dubious free-kick for Peter Crouch's header," he said.

That header came in the 61st minute and it underlined the fine margins at play. In a second half of limited opportunities, Sebastian Bassong had nodded narrowly wide just after the restart from Kightly's delivery, but another free-kick and another header brought the visitors' downfall.

It had seemed for the first half-hour that Lady Luck was smiling on Wolves when referee Mark Halsey ignored Jonathan Walters's shout for a penalty after receiving what looked like a tug from the Wolves captain, Karl Henry, as he threatened to connect with Matthew Etherington's first corner of the evening.

Wolves continued to ride their luck when Walters sent a diving header off-target from inside the six-yard box after Crouch had nodded Marc Wilson's deep cross into his path.

There was also a touch of fortune about their goal, credited to Kightly three minutes later. The winger cut inside and lifted a ball over two defenders to Dave Edwards, breaking into the box. Although the midfielder stretched a leg to connect, TV replays suggested the contact was minimal at best, but still the ball found a way past Asmir Begovic at the near post.

"How shit must you be, we're winning away," chorused the fans from the Black Country with impressive black humour, but not for long. When a Stoke free-kick was only partially cleared, Glenn Whelan headed the ball back into the box, where Ryan Shawcross laid it back for Huth to drive a low volley beyond the Wolves goalkeeper, Wayne Hennessey.

Crouch's winner, his 13th goal of the season, was a return to the norm a fortnight after he showed his under-appreciated technical ability with that volleyed goal-of-the-season contender against Manchester City; this one more typical of the big striker as he met Jermaine Pennant's free-kick from the right with a soaring header across Hennessey and into the far corner.

According to Stoke's manager, Tony Pulis, the striker is worth a place in England's Euro 2012 squad on his form this season. "If England need a game-changer there is no one better than Peter. Technically he is great but also he's a massive threat for anything going into the box aerially."

The impressive Kightly's trickery nearly conjured an equaliser for Wolves but after evading three Stoke men, his low ball across the six-yard box was nicked off the toes of Matt Jarvis by Ryan Shotton. With that Stoke had their first win in five and they could yet manage a first top-10 finish since 1975; for Wolves the future is less bright.

Stoke (4-4-2): Begovic; Shotton, Shawcross, Huth, Wilson; Pennant (Palacios, 87), Whelan, Whitehead, Etherington (Jerome, 69); Walters, Crouch (Delap, 90).

Wolves (4-4-2): Hennessey; Zubar, Stearman, Bassong, Ward; Kightly, Henry, Edwards, Jarvis; Ebanks-Blake (Doyle, 83) Fletcher

Referee Mark Halsey.

Man of the match Crouch (Stoke).

Match rating 6/10.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
News
Jihadi John
newsMonikers like 'Jihadi John' make the grim sound glamorous
Arts and Entertainment
As depicted in Disney's Robin Hood, King John was cowardly, cruel, avaricious and incompetent
film
Life and Style
Travis Kalanick, the co-founder of Uber, is now worth $5.3bn
tech
Extras
indybest
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn