United fall to 2-1 defeat at Elland Road...
UNITED 1 (Antenucci 18), WOLVES 2 (Henry 66, Clarke 85).
United: Silvestri, Berardi, Bellusci, Pearce, Warnock, Bianchi (Montenegro 88), Cook, Mowatt (Murphy 63), Adryan (Sloth 74), Antenucci, Morison. Subs. S Taylor, Byram, Cooper, Tonge.
Wolves: Ikeme, Doherty, Batth, Ebanks-Landell, Rowe, McDonald, Evans, Henry, Edwards (Clarke 45), Jacobs (van La Parra 63), Dicko (Stearman 87). Subs. Flatt, Golbourne, Saville, Sagbo.
Referee: D Webb
Booked: Evans (Wolves)
After a three-week absence, Championship football returned to Elland Road with the visit of Wolverhampton Wanderers and Darko Milanic made three changes from the midweek draw at Norwich. Steve Morison came in for his first start in almost 18 months, replacing the suspended Souleymane Doukara, while Stephen Warnock and Lewis Cook also returned to the side.
After some relatively quiet opening exchanges, United were the first to truly threaten on 13 minutes as Morison’s lashed effort across the face of goal was pushed away by a fine Carl Ikeme save and Alex Mowatt drilled the rebound into the side-netting.
Marco Silvestri clutched onto Lee Evans’ strike at the opposite end but United were playing with a noticeable air of confidence and they duly opened the scoring after 18 minutes.
Steve Morison, picked out by a cross-field pass from Mowatt, threaded it through for strike partner Mirco Antenucci and the Italian made no mistake as he found the bottom corner with a neat finish for his fourth of the season.
The advantage could have been doubled just six minutes later as the industrious Morison found Mowatt unmarked inside the area, but Ikeme was equal to the 19-year-old midfielder’s effort and was able to clutch it low down to his right.
Dave Edwards guided Tommy Rowe’s left-wing cross behind for a goalkick in front of the Kop end but United appeared to be in control and deserving of their lead. Tommaso Bianchi glanced a header wide from Giuseppe Bellusci’s inviting cross before Antenucci and Morison combined again, as the latter’s strike was deflected behind for a corner.
Despite Michael Jacobs curling a shot straight into Silvestri’s arms, United continued to press for a second and Antenucci was just unable to find a way through a crowded penalty box as he looked for the bottom corner.
Jacobs then had Silvestri flying across his goal-line with a free-kick that flew over the bar before he was tested down to his left as James Henry let fly from range, but the 1-0 lead was taken into the break after an opening 45 minutes largely dominated by the hosts.
Wolves reappeared from the break with an added sense of urgency as they applied pressure through a number of early corners and crosses into the box, without truly testing the United backline.
That was until the 59th minute, though, as Silvestri, whose afternoon had been relatively quiet until that point, was forced into action as he pushed away Nouha Dicko’s towering header with an acrobatic one-handed save across to his right.
Wolves were seeing a lot of the ball inside United’s half and they found an equaliser on 66 minutes as the ball fell kindly inside the area for Henry to smash beyond Silvestri and into the roof of the net.
The visitors were undoubtedly on top and buoyed by their equaliser as substitute Rajiv van La Parra almost converted a corner at the back post. Having already introduced Luke Murphy for Mowatt, Milanic was prompted into his second change as Casper Sloth replaced Adryan after 74 minutes.
Another foray towards the United box culminated with substitute Leon Clarke firing into the arms of Silvestri before Dicko lashed a speculative strike high and wide from distance as Elland Road became increasingly tense.
But the home fans knew the three points were still up for grabs as Morison dragged an effort wide from a tight angle before Gaetano Berardi and Antenucci both came agonisingly close with crosses from the right.
Gaps were appearing at both ends but it was Kenny Jackett’s side who capitalised as the ball was squared across goal for Clarke to make it 2-1 with a simple tap-in.
Brian Montenegro was introduced in place of Bianchi for his United debut as white shirts piled forward in search of an equaliser with four minutes added on, but there was to be no way through as Wolves collected the three points.