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Wolves 1 Reading 0 - Report and pictures

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If this is what it takes for Wolves to win a football match, the collective strain on the hearts of supporters may be too much to contemplate.



Reading hammered Wolves for long spells of this match, battered them, produced 24 shots to the home side's six.

They hit the post, while goalkeeper Carl Ikeme let a shot through his fingers along the way.

And there were last ditch clearances, blocks and interceptions with a regularity that meant Kenny Jackett's team never looked comfortable.

Yet, they held on, to earn three precious points and the most welcome of late Christmas presents for under-fire Jackett.

They did so thanks to former Reading man James Henry's first-half header, a goal that meant Jordan Graham has provided five assists in his first seven Wolves appearances.

They also hit the post through Benik Afobe and could have had a penalty when the same player appeared to be clipped in the box.

But Reading too should have had a spot kick. The Royals should also have had a few goals to take back to Berkshire with them.

For all their defensive nervousness - and there was a lot of that here yet again - Wolves largely restricted Brian McDermott's side to pot shots in a very tense second-half.

Where Wolves go next is very much unknown - except for Charlton on Monday, obviously.

James Henry of Wolverhampton Wanderers celebrates after scoring a goal to make it 1-0.

Wolves (4-2-3-1): Ikeme; Iorfa, Batth (c), Ebanks-Landell; Doherty; McDonald, Coady; Henry (Byrne 74), Edwards, Graham; Afobe (Holt 90).

Subs not used: McCarey, Golbourne, Wallace, Sigurdarson, Le Fondre.

Goal: Henry (18)

Reading (4-4-2): Bond; Gunter, McShane (c), Hector, Quinn (Sa 76); Blackman, Norwood, Williams, McCleary (Taylor 62); Vydra (John 62), Robson-Kanu.

Subs not used: Al-Habsi, Piazon, Cooper, Liburd.

Referee: Simon Hooper

Attendance: 21,147[/breakout]

But, for now, they deserve praise for ending their dreadful recent run with a backs-to-the-wall performance of real heart.

Jack Price missed out with illness as Kenny Jackett made two changes from the side that was comfortably beaten 4-1 by Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough.

In came Conor Coady to replace Price, while David Edwards was recalled in place of Nathan Byrne.

There was a blast from the past on the bench with Icelandic striker Bjorn Sigurdarson, whose last appearance came on December 21, 2013, named among the substitutes.

Both teams started looking to gain the initiative. A low Henry free kick caused panic in the Reading box, before Gareth McCleary's shot struck Dominic Iorfa on the elbow in the Wolves box.

He kept his arms by his side and although he moved his body towards the ball, referee Simon Hooper was unmoved.

Benik Afobe then raced into the box and crossed towards Edwards whose diverted wide.

Wolves' defending has been dreadful of late and the carnage continued when three players went towards the ball, allowing Matej Vydra to escape in the box.

He was crowded out before he took a shot and the ball dropped to McCleary, whose shot was cleared off the line by Coady.

Seconds later, the dangerous McCleary skipped past a challenge and whistled a shot inches past the post.

Wolves fell asleep from a quickly taken free kick and Vydra flashed the ball across goal, with the home side again far too easy to play through.

But, against the run of the play, they took the lead in the 18th minute.

Iorfa dashed forward to win a free kick to the right of the box - Graham clipped it hard to the near post where Henry flashed a header past keeper Jonathan Bond.

It was his fifth goal of the campaign - and also Graham's fifth assist, in just his seventh appearance in Wolves colours.

Buoyed by the goal, Wolves looked to take charge. In an unlikely combination Matt Doherty swung a left-footed cross onto Danny Batth's head and he only just missed the target.

Afobe then had a big shout for a penalty turned down. He raced into the area and went down under Stephen Quinn's challenge just as he was about to shoot. Replays confirmed his right ankle was clipped.

Just seconds later, Wolves' luck was again absent when Afobe turned a Henry cross onto the post. Hal Robson-Kanu also lashed wide when well placed.

Then some last ditch blocks from Batth and Iorfa, plus a crucial interception from Ethan Ebanks-Landell, ensured they got to the break with their clean sheet somehow intact.

At the start of the second-half, Wolves' goal continued to lead a charmed life. Oliver Norwood received the ball from Vydra and cracked a sweetly-struck 30-yarder off the post, with Ikeme flailing.

A third penalty appeal of the game followed shortly afterwards.

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Again Mr Hooper said no but, this time, it was the correct decision with Chris Gunter dropping to the floor after being brushed by Henry.

Vydra then skipped past Batth and let fly from range. It was straight at Ikeme but this was another warning sign to Jackett's team, who had started the second-half on the back-foot.

Nick Blackman saw a shot blocked by Ebanks-Landell and, from the resulting corner, the same player nodded over at the near post.

Norwood then curled a free kick which was left by Ebanks-Landell, Doherty and Ikeme, but Michael Hector couldn't quite divert the ball in at the back post.

It was all Reading but Brian McDermott made a double change on the four mark, withdrawing Vydra and McCleary for Ola John and Andrew Taylor.

But the tidal wave of attacks continued, with Wolves' attacking ambitions diminishing by the minute.

There were several important blocks, headers and interceptions in and around their penalty area, with Ebanks-Landell producing many.

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Ikeme then had a horror moment when he let Blackman's shot slip through his fingers, but mercifully for the keeper the ball bobbled just post the post.

Reading were controlling possession, with Wolves struggling to do anything other than sit back and defend.

John went on a mazy run, beating two players, but his shot was blocked in the box.

It was Reading's 23rd attempt on goal of the game, compared to just five for the hosts at this point, although only three of those Reading shots had been on target.

Reading continued to dominate with a succession of crosses, which produced two corners.

The second of which yielded some rare respite with Afobe racing forward and then, with the Reading defence opening up, crashing over the bar from 18 yards.

Grant Holt replaced Afobe seconds later for his Molineux debut as Wolves wasted a few more seconds, going into four minutes of injury time.

Wolves survived it comfortably to win their first home game since October - and just their third home three points of the season.