Stoke come from behind to condemn Wolves to their sixth successive Premier League defeat. Plus: John Farnham
Evening all. Well, that wasn't a bad afternoon for Wolves. OK, Wigan made them sweat at Stamford Bridge, but they might have expected Blackburn to get something at West Brom and they'd certainly be expecting Bolton to at least avoid defeat against Fulham at the Reebok. Instead, both were stuffed 3-0 and Wolves kick off this evening knowing a win will take them to within three points of safety.
But since getting a point away at Bolton on New Year's Eve, Wolves' Premier League record reads: P12 W1 D2 L9 F12 A34 Pts5. They've been pants and lost. They've played well and lost. They've been fair-to-middling. And lost. There's not really any reason to expect anything different today.
The teams are in:
Stoke: Begovic; Shotton, Shawcross, Huth, Wilson; Pennant, Whitehead, Whelan, Etherington; Crouch, Walters. Subs: Sorensen, Jones, Fuller, Upson, Delap, Jerome, Palacios.
Wolves: Hennessey; Zubar, Stearman, Bassong, Ward; Kightly, Henry, Edwards, Jarvis; Ebanks-Blake, Fletcher. Subs: DeVries, Johnson, Berra, Milijas, Davis, Doyle, Forde.
Referee: M Halsey
"Roger is very much part of what we're doing," said Terry Connor on Friday. "He's part of our team and has played the last two games. What happened was dealt with at half-time. Roger has been a positive influence in the dressing room." But after last week's bust-up with Wayne Hennessy, Johnson is dropped to the Wolves bench. Ebanks-Blake is again preferred to Kevin Doyle. Pulis sticks with his tried and tested XI.
Pre-match ESPN analysis
Rebecca Lowe: "When two team-mates fight like that, is it that a sign of frustration? Of passion? Of everything?"
Martin Keown: "Of course it is."
Just seen an advert for rhat new film "based" on the board game Battleships. Is that "based on" in the same way that Face-Off was based on Guess Who and that The Good, The Bad and The Ugly was based on Buckaroo?
Terry Connor, pre-match: Dropping of Johnson nothing to do with the bust-up, more to do with the fact we conceded three again last week.
Click-clack, click-clack … Out come the teams.
ADVERTS! ADVERTS! ADVERTS! WEAR GOLF CLOTHES! GAMBLE! GO TO THE CINEMA! BANK! PAY FOR STUFF! WATCH FOOTBALL ON THE TELLY!
Peep! Right off we go then. Wolves kick off at the Britannia.
1 min: Long punt flicked on by Crouch. Walters wins a corner …
2 min: … and a big penalty shout as Henry trips Walters at the back post. That looked a strong claim.
3 min: Jarvis looks to skitter down the right, but his touch is heavier than an morbidly obese tractor. Stoke throw-in.
5 min: Zubar gets clumped late by Whelan. To say this has been a low-key opening would be an understatement.
6 min: Crouch again flicks on a long ball, again Walters gets there first, but his spectacular effort from distance drops well over the bar.
7 min: ESPN commentator bemoans Wolves' small away support, which apparently numbers just 900. "They seem resigned to relegation," he says. Nothing to do with the half five kick-off time demanded by TV companies then. Or the fact that it's £30 a ticket.
9 min: Jarvis gets to the byline and wins a corner …
10 min: … taken short to Kightly. Then whacked over the bar by Ward.
11 min: Jarvis again gets a yard or two of space, but again his touch is poor.
12 min: Apologies if this is coming across as brusque. I'm in an unaccountably mardy mood. I blame Chris Waddle.
13 min: Shotton hurls in a long throw. Hennessy claims with ease.
14 min: Ebanks-Blake scuffs his shot at goal. Very even thus far.
16 min: Crouch flick. Goal kick.
18 min: "Mardy, eh?" writes Paul Taylor. "You need a little pick-me-up, methinks. A quick shot of David Rose ought to do it."
20 min: Fine defending from Stearman as Crouch looks to get on the end of Etherington's low cross.
21 min: And the resultant corner bounces across goal without anyone getting a touch. The action in the box as the ball drifts in is ludicrous – more grappling than an WWF intercontinental title fight.
22 min: What a chance for Walters! Wilson chips in to the back post, Crouch gets up highest and nods across goal, and somehow the former Ipswich man skews his tumbling header wide from four yards.
25 min: Kightly and Whitehead slide in together – the Stoke man gets their first, but comes off worse after getting a whack.
GOAL!!! Stoke 0-1 Wolves (Kightly 26) And with Whitehead hobbling back Wolves take the lead. It's a shocking bit of goalkeeping by Begovic. Kightly dinks in a pass towards Edwards. The midfielder swings wildly at it but doesn't get a touch and the keeper tumbles out of the way. Wolves lead!
28 min: Stoke almost reply immediately. Under a long throw there's more boston crabs, camel clutches, sleeperholds and reverse chinlocks, Huth heads at goal. Henry stretches his neck out to clear.
30 min: Jarvis zooms down the left, picks out Kightly with his pass, but the winger takes a touch and allows the defenders to charge down the shot.
32 min: Great stat on ESPN - Wolves have only been ahead for four and a half hours this season. They've played for something like 46 hours in the league in total.
33 min: Peter Crouch attempts to 'do a Crouch' with an optimistic volleyed long-range effort from a tight angle. Skewed behind for a goal kick on this occasion.
34 min: Kightly and Etherington square up to one another after the Stoke man is tripped. Both get their names taken by Mark Halsey.
GOAL! Stoke 1-1 Wolves (Huth 37) And from the resultant free-kick, Stoke equalise. Wolves fail to clear, it drops out to the German, who lashes it between Hennessy's legs on the half volley. Replays suggested a hint of a dive from Etherington for the free-kick. TC won't be happy.
38 min: Shawcross almost scoops an effort over Hennessy as the keeper and his defence fail to deal with another long throw.
41 min: Possession stats thus far: Stoke 10%, Wolves 22%, Uninhabited Areas of Grass 28%, The Sky 40%.
42 min: Walters climbs highest to head at goal, but he can only pick out Hennessy's breadbasket.
44 min: This has improved no end since an incredibly poor start. The quality and technique on show is nothing to write home about, but at least both sides like to attack.
Peep! Peep!! Half-time. All square.
I don't care what anyone says - that is a tune.
Peep! Right, reinvigorated by some 80s soft rock, we're underway in the second half.
46 min: Kightly's corner hits the first man. And then he again finds only the forehead of Whelan with another attempted cross.
47 min: Crouch nods on … Bassong nods clear. And Kightly helps Wolves break, a break only ended when Shotton trips him right on the edge of the area. Danger here …
49 min: … Fletcher oh-so-gently clips it into the hands of Begovic. Wasted, like Meat Loaf's youth.
51 min: "John Farnham once appeared on Home & Away once, spurring Lance and Marty to form a band," writes RightSaidDredd on Twitter. "High jinx!" Those were the days. Possibly.
53 min: Kightly clips a lovely set-piece into the six-yard box, Bassong emerges from amid the piledrivers and powerslams to nod just wide. Big chance.
54 min: Loose touch from Whelan gets Wolves flying forward once more. Another decent ball into the box, this time Jarvis, is flicked away by a Stoke head as Fletcher bears down.
56 min: Jarvis has yards of space over on the left, but Ebanks-Blake's attempted lofted pass in his direction floats into the hands of Begovic. You've got to admire Wolves' attacking intent, but they've wasted some very promising positions tonight.
58 min: It's been all Wolves since the break.
GOAL!! Stoke 2-1 Wolves (Crouch 61) And Wolves pay the price for their profligacy in the final third. It's a fantastic header by Crouch, sending Pennant's free-kick back across goal and into the top corner.
64 min: Gary Megson in the crowd. Former Stoke manager … not future Wolves manager surely?
66 min: Shotton does superbly to deny Jarvis after Kightly's run takes three defenders out of the game. The goal briefly gaped there, if a goal can gape briefly.
68 min: The fear for Wolves is the exodus ahead of next season should they go down: Jarvis, Doyle, Fletcher and Kightly would I'm sure interest plenty in the top flight. Stearman's a terrific player on his day. Could they afford to keep Johnson? It could be a troubling summer.
70 min: "You are gearing up to call Wolves 'gallant losers' aren't you? Aren't you?" demands Peter Cooney. "Just don't say we're going 'down with dignity'." I was going to go with "plucky" and "down with QPR and Bolton".
73 min: Strange keeping from Hennessy as Jerome looms onto a through-ball. He was so terrified of conceding a penalty, he stood up and allowed the ball to ricochet off his shins rather than slide in and gather. Proved effective enough in the end, but was all a bit untidy.
75 min: Glanced wide by Shawcross. "There might only be 900 Wolves fans at Stoke tonight, but I imagine that they'll be a whole lot more in the car park at Molineux once Gary Megson takes over the reins," writes Ian Burch. "Haven't they suffered enough?" They wouldn't? Would they?
76 min: I've almost got through 90 minutes, but that was the straw that broke the camel's back: WHY DOES CHRIS WADDLE KEEP SAYING PELANTY? It's ruddy infuriating.
78 min: Great football from Wolves (and a slice of luck) presents Kightly with a sight of goal. Curled. Deflected. Corner. Scramble. Cleared.
80 min: Ebanks-Blake shanks a pass out of play. He and Fletcher have been very poor today, but still Kevin Doyle kicks his heels on the bench.
83 min: With seven minutes to go, off comes Ebanks-Blake and on comes Doyle.
85 min: Jarvis gets to the byline for the umpteenth time. Corner …
86 min: … which the same player hoofs out for a throw-in on the other side of the pitch.
87 min: Pennant off, Palacios on as Stoke look to see this out.
88 min: Wolves rouse themselves for a grandstand finish.
89 min: Doyle turns and shoots from the edge of the box, but Begovic gathers comfortably.
90 min: Doyle sparks a scramble, but Stearman commits a foul in there.
90+2 min: Delap replaces Crouch. Another minute for Wolves to avoid a sixth successive defeat.
90+3 min: Long ball brings a corner for the visitors … ah, no it doesn't. Halsey has changed his mind.
Peep! Peep!! PEEEEEEEP!!! All over. At the Britannia and, you'd have to imagine, for Wolves season.
Right, that's it from me. Thanks for your company and for your emails and tweets. Cheerio!