Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 Derby County 1

Last updated : 12 September 2006 By Footymad Previewer
Steve Howard repaid the first slice of his £1million price tag as Derby County turned the form book upside down to stun high-flying Wolves at Molineux.

Howard finally broke his duck for Derby following his move from Luton Town last month with a 34th-minute header to earn County only their second win of the season.

The victory was no more than Derby deserved as they caused in-form Wolves a host of problems - most notably through the trickery of on-loan Arsenal striker Arturo Lupoli.

He was a constant menace and set up Howard's goal as Derby looked anything but a team who had started the game just one place off the bottom of the table.

Equally, Wolves were a pale shadow of the side who had won four of their opening six games.

Their off-key display was summed up by striker Jay Bothroyd. He had scored three goals in his previous three appearances only to fail to hit the target from the penalty spot in the 22nd minute against Derby.

The Rams could have been further in front at half-time had it not been for Wolves goalkeeper Matt Murray.

Stephen Bywater kept Derby on level terms by saving Bothroyd's penalty, but it was Murray who took the early goalkeeping honours.

After five minutes he dived low to his left to save from Howard and then he tipped a rising drive from Morten Bisgaard over the bar.

The full value of those saves should have been exploited by Bothroyd when referee Neil Swarbrick pointed to the spot - ruling Michael Johnson had fouled Seyi Olofinjana following Daniel Jones' corner.

Bothroyd, who had scored from 30 yards at Leeds United on Sunday, couldn't repeat the feat from less than half that distance as Bywater dived low to his left to smother his spot-kick.

It was a let-off Derby cashed in on 11 minutes before half-time after more good work by Lupoli.

They had no answer when he lifted in a neat left-wing cross that Howard headed home from six yards.

When Jemal Johnson fired wide from 12 yards at the start of the second half, Wolves must have sensed it would not be their night.

Derby grew in confidence after the let-off and Lupoli should really have gone on to mark his man-of-the-match display with a goal.

But he was denied by a last-ditch challenge by Jody Craddock and the fingertips of Murray, who also prevented Mo Camara marking his Molineux return with a goal with another stunning save nine minutes from time.

Failure to take the chances could have proved costly as Wolves were denied an equaliser two minutes from time when Rohan Ricketts hit the post.

But a draw would have been tough on Derby and flattering for Wolves.