Premier League - Wolves out of bottom three

Sun, 08 May 13:57:00 2011

Wolverhampton Wanderers moved out of the Premier League relegation zone with a 3-1 win over West Bromwich Albion in the Black Country derby at Molineux.

Match Highlights: Wolves 3

Steven Fletcher gave Wolves a deserved lead after a quarter of an hour when he finished from close range after being teed up by Adlene Guedioura at a corner. Fletcher then returned the favour for the Algerian to score his first of the season from another set piece on 28 minutes.

Fletcher put the result beyond doubt moments after half-time when he capitalised on Abdoulaye Meite's error to grab his second and Wolves' third of the game.

Peter Odemwingie pulled a goal back from the penalty spot, but the home side were already out of sight.

Wolves' reward for victory in this Black Country clash is to move out of the bottom three by a point and up to 17th, dropping Blackpool back into the drop zone along with Wigan Athletic and bottom club West Ham United.

Despite their lowly position for much of the season, Wolves have almost always matched whatever opposition they have been faced with in terms of drive and effort, but they have all too often been left wanting in front of goal. That was not a problem for them today as West Brom extended their record Premier League run of consecutive games without a clean sheet to 34 games.

Set pieces have always been the key weapon in the armoury of Mick McCarthy's side, and a high tempo start yielded a multitude of free-kicks and corners.

From one of those corners they took the lead on 15 minutes when Guedioura found himself completely unmarked inside the area, and he chested the ball down for Fletcher to prod home his from close range.

Soon enough another set piece led to Wolves doubling their lead. Again it was Stephen Hunt - starting on the left wing in place of Matt Jarvis - who sent the set piece in, and this time Fletcher headed it back across goal for Guedioura to finish with a strike that was very extravagant for a man unmarked in the six-yard box. The strike came one day shy of a full year since his last goal in Wolves colours.

Odemwingie has been in remarkably consistent scoring form of late, but it took until the final minute of the half for him to make his mark on this match.

The Nigerian slalomed into the box with a jinking run before unleashing a fearsome strike towards the far top corner which flashed just a fraction wide. If Wayne Hennessey got his fingertips to it it was a stunning save - but referee Mike Dean awarded a goal kick.

Any hopes of a West Brom fightback appeared dead and buried after the break when, just two minutes after the restart, Meite miscontrolled a tame ball forward and Fletcher pounced to beat Carson one-on-one with aplomb for his fourth goal in as many games.

Guedioura evidently did not want to wait another year for his next Wolves goal, and drew a decent save from Carson with his effort from outside the box. A few minutes later, the Algerian played his part at the wrong end of the pitch when he brought down Odemwingie after the ball had broken free in the Wolves box.

Odemwingie clinically drilled his penalty home for his 15th goal of the season, becoming the first West Brom player to score in five consecutive top flight games since Tony Brown more than 40 years ago.

That goal sparked a frantic 15-minute spell which could have seen West Brom draw level, with Hennessey reacting well to block Simon Cox's first-time effort. Jerome Thomas latched on to a ball snuck through by Somen Thcoyi, but he saw his rasping strike canon off the crossbar. Tchoyi had all the time he needed to pick his spot as Wolves failed to deal with the second ball from a corner, but the Cameroonian headed wide.

Somehow, Wolves survived that intense spell of pressure and, after Stephen Ward almost scored one of the goals of the season when he dinked over one defender and rode another's tackle before firing just the wrong side of the far post, Wolves closed out a well-earned victory.

Tony Mabert / Eurosport

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