- Wolves earn first victory in eight league games
- Derby suffer second defeat in four matches under Wassall
- George Saville opens Wolves account with first career brace
- Rams five points behind top two ahead of other Saturday games
WOLVES ended a run of three successive defeats as George Saville’s brace earned a deserved win over promotion-chasing Derby County at Molineux.
The hosts, who had the better of the first half, led when man of the match Saville curled in superbly from 15 yards.
The Rams levelled shortly before the break as Chris Martin’s sublime free-kick found the top corner of the net.
In an even second period, Wolves hit the post through Bjorn Sigurdarson before Saville headed in Matt Doherty’s cross four minutes from time.
It ended a run of seven games without a win for Kenny Jackett’s side, who temporarily moved in to the top half of the SkyBet Championship.
Derby, chasing a third straight victory under head coach Darren Wassall, were short of ideas for long periods as they remain fifth in the table – three points behind Brighton, who face Leeds on Monday.
Jacob Butterfield almost scored another early goal – as he did in midweek against Blackburn – with a low shot which brought a comfortable save from Carl Ikeme.
Wolves, though, settled quicker and got the ideal start on 14 minutes when Saville took one touch to control before finding the bottom corner after good work from impressive duo Kevin McDonald and Nathan Byrne.
The visitors enjoyed more possession but were constantly pressed on the ball by the determined hosts, who had a measure of control in midfield.
Derby, who beat Wolves 4-2 at the iPro Stadium in October, were unable to seriously threaten until Martin found a way through from 20 yards two minutes before half-time.
The striker almost matched his 11th goal of the season from a similar dead-ball situation just after the interval but his effort was narrowly over.
Derby asked more questions as Wassall made a double change on 55 minutes, with Tom Ince and Andreas Weimann replacing George Thorne and Johnny Russell.
Doherty found the net with a tidy finish for Wolves but was offside when played in by Conor Coady.
At the other end, Ince – on his 50th Derby appearance – curled an effort inches wide from Bradley Johnson’s incisive pass as he sought to end a 10-game goal drought.
The contest was finely balanced but Wolves posed more of a danger when £3 million January signing Joe Mason was introduced.
His fellow forward Sigurdarson almost snatched a first Wolves goal since August 2013 when his driving run and shot rebounded back off Scott Carson’s post.
But a priceless three points were in the home side’s grasp when the recalled Saville powered in Doherty’s pinpoint centre from 10 yards to score a first-ever career brace.
The Rams pushed for an equaliser in the closing stages but could not prevent a fourth away loss of the campaign.
After their miserable recent form, it was a marked improvement for Wolves, who got the fans firmly back on side with a first league win since January 11.
Substitutes: Mason (on for Byrne 76′)
Not used: Martinez (GK), Hause, Hunte, Rowe, Price, Le Fondre.
Booked: Batth (51′), Sigurdarson (57′), McDonald (80′), Saville (90+4′)
Goals: Saville (14′, 86′)
Substitutes: Ince (on for Thorne 55′), Weimann (on for Russell 56′), Blackman (on for Johnson 88′).
Not used: Grant (GK), Buxton, Bryson, Hanson.
Booked: Christie (75′)
Goals: Martin (44′)
“We’ve been inconsistent at times this season and the fans haven’t had much to cheer about.
“It’s been a difficult run for us. We’ve come through a tricky stage, with a lot of first-team players out of the team. But we’ve had people like George come in, and he’s done brilliantly today.”