Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-1 Newcastle United
Willy Boly’s last-gasp equaliser denied Newcastle a vital win in their Premier League relegation scrap as Wolves snatched a 1-1 draw.
The Magpies went into Monday night’s game sitting outside of the drop zone by virtue of having a better goal difference than third-bottom Southampton and a win against an in-form Wolves side at Molineux looked a tall order.
However, they looked set to secure all three points courtesy of Isaac Hayden’s second-half goal, which was his first in 18 months since scoring against Southampton in October 2017.
But Boly denied them as he snatched a share of the spoils with virtually the last touch of the match in the fourth minute of injury time when he bundled a header in from close range.
The point sees Newcastle move up a place to 16th on 25 points, while Wolves stay in seventh place on 39 points.
Wolves kept faith the same starting XI that won 3-1 at Everton, while Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez also opted to stick the same team that lost 1-0 at Tottenham last weekend with new record signing Miguel Almiron on the bench.
It was Newcastle who carved out the first opening of the game in the fourth minute when Ayoze Perez lifted the ball into the path of Salomon Rondon and he advanced to the left side of the box before hitting a shot which Rui Patricio got down to gather.
The visitors continued to look comfortable in the opening stages, although they had a brief scare when Ruben Neves went to ground in their area under a challenge from Christian Atsu on 17 minutes.
However, referee Graham Scott correctly waved play on as the Magpies forward got a clear touch on the ball before Neves.
Wolves had a couple of chances in quick succession when Boly saw his header from a Diogo Jota corner drop just over the crossbar on 34 minutes, before Raul Jimenez picked up a 50-yard Neves pass down the left and cut inside to hit a right-foot effort which Martin Dubravka had to palm away.
On 39 minutes DeAndre Yedlin’s hopeful ball into the box was met by the head of Rondon, but his downward effort was saved by Patricio, before Dubravka held on well to a fierce low strike from Jonny at the opposite end moments later.
Newcastle had the final chance of the half when Rondon looked to steal a yard on Conor Coady down the left of the Wolves penalty area, but the defender got enough of a block on his subsequent strike to deflect it wide from 12 yards.
Wolves looked like they were going to take the lead three minutes into the second period when Jimenez flicked on a corner into the six yard box and it fell kindly to Matt Doherty, but Sean Longstaff somehow managed to get a foot to the ball to divert the header over the crossbar.
Newcastle took the lead out of nothing on 56 minutes when Hayden advanced into the right side of the area and watched as Patricio seemed to dive to his right and away from the angled strike as the ball flew inside his near post via his outstretched hand.
Wolves stormed straight up the opposite end and almost levelled but Jota’s effort was tipped away by Dubravka, before the Slovakian goalkeeper did well to prevent Leander Dendoncker’s header from squeezing into the net from Jimenez’s subsequent corner.
On 66 minutes Jimenez’s run and pass into the box dropped to Jota, but his effort towards goal rebounded off the back of team-mate Doherty before the Newcastle defence cleared their lines.
Newcastle introduced Almiron off the bench, but it was Wolves substitute Adama Traore who almost set up an equaliser on 82 minutes when his first-time effort from the right of the area was deflected into the path of Jimenez who managed to send his header wide from close range.
Newcastle broke in the final minute and went close to wrapping up the points with Perez picked out in the middle by Almiron from the left, but he clipped his effort over the top.
However, the visitors were denied a huge win in the dying embers of injury time when Boly leaped above Dubravka to meet Traore’s cross from the right at the back post and he headed into the net from a couple of yards.
Newcastle’s players and Benitez all appealed for the foul, but the referee had no hesitation in awarding the goal.
Craig Smithson is a journalist with over two decades of experience at the keyboard. A life-long Middlesbrough fan, Craig has an in-depth knowledge of all football and is also a keen fan of boxing amongst other sports.