Norwich 2 Wolves 1
Wolves slipped further into the relegation mire today as captain Grant Holt netted twice before being sent off as Norwich came from behind to secure three points at Carrow Road.
The Black Country side languish bottom of the Barclays Premier League as the season edges towards a close, having lost four games on the bounce.
Terry Connor’s embattled side have now won just once in 16 league matches following today’s tough match, which had began well for the visitors.
Despite Norwich dictating the early tempo, Wolves took the lead through a neatly-worked Matt Jarvis goal.
That lead lasted just a minute, though, as Holt flicked the ball over goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey to nod home from close range.
The 30-year-old slotted home a penalty on the stroke of half-time to give Norwich a lead they managed to hold on to, although the shine was taken off the striker’s performance as he received a late red card.
Paul Lambert made five changes for today’s encounter in the Norfolk sunshine, with Holt, Wes Hoolahan and Simeon Jackson amongst those drafted in.
Wolves recalled Roger Johnson to the starting XI and was one of three alterations made by manager Connor, who also brought in Eggert Jonsson and Kightly.
The changes to the side defeated heavily by Manchester United last weekend had the desired effect early on as Wolves began brightly.
After Stephen Ward fired wide inside a minute, Norwich goalkeeper John Ruddy had to react well to stop Kevin Doyle heading home a Kightly free-kick.
Wolves were playing with a confidence that belied their recent performances, although City soon responded.
Johnson had to be alert to block two goalbound efforts in quick succession before Jackson controlled a loose ball in the box and forced Hennessey into action.
Having recovered from their slow start, Norwich pressed for an opener that would have come in the 10th minute had Kightly not been on the goalline to clear away a Zak Whitbread header.
The hosts continued to dominate yet fell behind during a rare Wolves foray forward in the 25th minute.
Kightly, impressing on his return to the team, darted down the right flank and sent over a cross that was touched away from the Norwich defenders by Doyle for Jarvis to fire home low into the bottom right-hand corner.
However, Wolves showed a minute later why they had the worst defensive record in the league when Jackson played through Holt to equalise.
The 30-year-old latched on to the Canada international’s ball and lifted it over the head of the onrushing Hennessey, before heading home from six yards.
Buoyed by his 13th goal of the campaign, Holt flashed wide a speculative effort moments later as Norwich again attacked with intent.
Wolves were forced to defend in numbers to keep the home side at bay and it looked like the only moment of note as half-time approached would be a tiff between team-mates Ruddy and Elliott Ward.
That all changed in the 45th minute, though, when Holt had a fierce shot superbly blocked by Stephen Ward and Hoolahan’s follow-up was handled in the box by Jonsson.
The former Hearts midfielder was booked for the incident and referee Mark Clattenburg awarded a penalty, which Holt duly dispatched.
Kyle Naughton began the second period in place of Simon Lappin for the hosts, who started the half in the same vein in which they ended the first.
Elliott Bennett and Jonny Howson had early shots blocked as City looked to extend their advantage, before Jackson lost his footing when through on goal.
Wolves were impressing in flashes and Steven Fletcher almost connected with a deflected Jarvis cross-shot, before Norwich returned to the attack.
Sebastien Bassong’s last-ditch challenge prevented Holt heading in his hat-trick goal in the 60th minute and Howson came close with a fierce drive from the resulting corner.
Johnson was harshly booked for a challenge on Holt as Norwich continued to dictate play, with Whitbread shooting wide before Hennessey sprinted out of his box to thwart Jackson.
Wolves searched desperately for an equaliser as the clock wound down, with the hosts welcoming them on in the hope of catching them on the break.
Hennessey did well to save a stinging Howson effort in the 80th minute, but that was the last chance of note as Norwich’s defence remained steadfast to hold off Wolves late on.
The victory was their first in five attempts in the league but was tempered somewhat by Holt’s late sending off.