Wolves produced their worst performance for some time as their 10-match unbeaten run ended to a spirited Crawley.
James Henry (25) put Kenny Jackett’s side with his eighth goal of the season but Billy Clarke levelled a minute later and Matt Tubbs (31) lobbed the winner in front of a record League crowd of 5,680 crowd at Broadfields Stadium.
Although early substitute Leon Clarke and Henry went desperately close on 40 minutes and Bakary Sako forced a superb save after the break, Wolves never scaled the heights of their recent performances against a Crawley team that never gave them a moment’s peace on a bobbly pitch that made both teams play it longer.
Head coach Jackett made the one expected change to the team that drew 0-0 against Shrewsbury on Saturday.
Captain Sam Ricketts returned to the side at right-back for Ethan Ebanks-Landell, who failed to make the 18.
Wolves kicked off but Crawley made the better start, and Danny Batth had to make a smart block to deny Josh Simpson after keeper Paul Jones’s giant kick saw Adam Drury take the ball around Carl Ikeme and driven wide before pulling the ball back after four minutes.
Wolves struggled to get their passing game going on a difficult, bobbly pitch and were careless at times in possession, limiting their attempts to build attacks.
Ikeme was in action again, although this time in freakish circumstances when Tubbs’s mis-hit cross needed to be tipped over from just under the bar in the 16th minute.
Wolves’ first attempt on goal came three minutes later but it was a woeful shot from Sako that trickled comfortably wide of Paul Jones’s left-hand post from 25 yards.
But the visitors stunned Crawley with a somewhat speculative goal when Henry unleashed a fierce, angled drive from out on the right.
Jones should have dived, but instead went for it with his feet and ended up sliding it into the top corner of the net as Wolves took an undeserved lead.
Crawley however, were level within 60 seconds as unusually woeful defending from Wolves saw the home side work the ball from their left to right, and after Danny Batth blocked Tubbs’s shot, Billy Clarke was unmarked to sidefoot the ball home at the far post.
Five minutes later, Crawley went ahead as Wolves stood square and Tubbs sprinted through them before lobbing Ikeme.
Wolves were at sixes and sevens, showing none of the composure that has characterised their record-breaking winning run.
Jackett’s response was to make an early change which saw Michael Jacobs replaced by Clarke and a switch from 4-2-3-1 to 4-4-2, with Clarke joining Nouha Dicko up front.
Within three minutes, the switch almost paid off when Wolves were guilty of stunning double miss.
A long pass from Ricketts saw Jones rooted to his line and Clarke latched onto it, but he could only spear straight at the keeper.
The rebound fell to Henry, who hooked over with Jones committed.
Wolves showed a welcome urgency at the start of the second half, but it wasn’t matched by a fluency in their passing as to a man, they continually struggled to keep possession.
But they managed to create the first chance of the half in the 50th minute when Dicko and Sako worked an opening for Henry, whose first-time drive was superbly tipped wide by Jones.
It took another 20 minutes for the next opening, but it was one worth waiting for as Sako’s blistering angled drive was met by a flying save from Jones at his near post from a loose ball after Golbourne ran into trouble.
In a desperate attempt to inject some fresh invention into his team, Jackett made a double substitution in the 74th minute.
But instead of lifting Wolves, it was Crawley who threatened as Josh Simpson’s backheel from Billy Clarke’s cross drifted inches wide of the far post on 77.
Wolves threw Batth up front in the latter stages as they strove desperately for an equaliser, but Crawley stood firm and the visitors failed to create another opening on a disappointing night.Subscribe to our Newsletter