Thompson makes Wolves top dogs

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The Independent Online
Wolves joined Bolton and Stoke at the top of the First Division thanks to Andy Thompson's match-winning 39th-minute penalty. Before the spot- kick Charlton - who were similarly undone at Manchester City on Tuesday - had looked the more likely side to win an often mediocre match.

The visitors belied their lowly league position with some inventive approach play that produced a succession of early openings. Keith Jones forced Mike Stowell into a diving save in the 10th minute. Eleven minutes later the goalkeeper distinguished himself again, arching backwards after John Robinson had volleyed Jamie Stuart's cross. Seconds later Stowell hacked clear of Carl Leaburn only for Anthony Barness to chip the ball over keeper and bar.

Wolves broke out briefly for Steve Bull to send in a low cross-shot, but Charlton were soon back on the offensive. After dominating from the kick-off, however, the visitors found themselves a goal down six minutes before the interval. Stuart pulled down Steve Corica, and Thompson drove inside Salmon's left-hand post.

Stuart compounded his penalty error by collecting a caution seven minutes into the second half, this time dragging down Bull. Sparked by their goal and doubtless a half-time lecture from a dissatisfied manager, Wolves were now beginning to force the pace.

Salmon had to pluck the ball away from Steve Froggatt after Iwan Roberts had turned Jamie Smith's 53rd-minute cross back into the area. After the goalkeeper had bravely conceded a corner as Bull attempted to force a close-range effort over the line, the Wolves' striker skied a 61st-minute shot.

The Charlton midfielders had controlled the first half, but lost their ascendancy as the home side looked for a second goal to clinch victory.

They almost did so in the 73rd minute, Bull and Roberts working their way into the penalty area but Bull seeing his cross shot beaten away from goal by Salmon.

Wolverhampton Wanderers: Stowell; Richards, Atkins, Venus; Smith, Osborn, Corica (Ferguson, 74), Thompson, Froggatt; Bull, Roberts. Substitutes not used: Wright, Segers (gk).

Charlton Athletic: Salmon; Barness, Chapple, Balmer, Stuart (O'Connell, 74); Newton, Jones, Mortimer (Allen, 74), Robinson; Leaburn, Whyte. Substitute not used: Brown.

Referee: W Burns (Scarborough).