Wolves unbeaten start to the season came to an end on Saturday against a robust Fulham outfit, also unbeaten, who found their first win after three consecutive league draws.
Despite taking the lead just ten minutes into the game with a debut goal from Jelle Van Damme, thanks to some tremendous industry and vision from Kevin Doyle, Wolves sank away in the second half, and although it felt cruel to lose to a last minute goal, the result was in reality a fair one.
Fulham lacked a cutting edge in the first half and Wolves back line looked solid, and dealt with whatever was thrown in their way. Protecting a one goal lead, Wolves looked the more likely side to score again and went into the interval with their tails up.
Wolves were booed relentlessly by the home crowd, with skipper Karl Henry coming in for particular abuse after news filtered through that his legal and fair first half challenge on Bobby Zamora had left the England player with a broken leg.
Whatever Mark Hughes said at half time must have done the trick as Fulham came flying out of the gates from the start of the second half and Wolves appeared to lose both their shape and confidence.
Dembele leveled just four minutes after the restart after some questionable defending and Fulham began to push forward in droves. Boss Mick McCarthy met the challenge by throwing on more striking options in the form of David Jones and Stephen Fletcher, and whilst Wolves enjoyed purple patches and remained a threat they often found themselves on the back foot.
Christophe Berra, who has been exceptional since his arrival at the club, was sent off after two yellow cards in quick succession for needless fouls. It was uncharacteristic of the player who has been so consistent but his sending off was quickly followed by a free kickk guided into the corner by Dembele who celebrated a second and the winner for the home side.
On a better day Wolves would have come away from Craven Cottage with a point, and if Fulham’s second had not come so late in the game defeat would not have tasted so bitter.
Marcus Hahnemann (7)
Criticized for not moving for the goals but stood little chance with either. The second in particular stood little chance when the wall broke. Otherwise a typically commanding performance.
Kevin Foley (7)
Hardly put a foot wrong once again, and it is difficult to see a fit Ronald Zubar shifting him from right back upon his return from injury.
Stephen Ward (7)
Continues to mature with another established display.
Jody Craddock (7)
Blood and guts again from Jody. It will be interesting to see how he fairs when paired with unfamiliarity when Berra, who he has stuck up such a strong pairing with, is suspended.
Christophe Berra (5)
One player does not lose a game, yet despite an accomplished outing ruined the day for himself with two silly and needless fouls within minutes, the second of which led to the goal.
Karl Henry (C) (7)
Continues to shrug off the vitriol aimed in his general direction by the media and opposition fans alike. Full blooded performance once more, and can walk away with a clear conscience knowing his tackle on Zamora was a fair one.
Michael Mancienne (6)
Harries and closes down the opposition well. Jones was in danger of losing his place following a relatively ineffectual performance in his last outing, with Mick clearly preferring to sacrifice Jones by brining in greater stability in the midfield. No doubt still finding his feet after only recently returning to the club- is likely to feature in most away games but will have to provide more to pin down a regular place in the side.
Jelle Van Damme (7)
Clearly still struggling for full fitness, hence playing a half, but made his mark with his first goal for the club. Did not put a foot wrong and it was a terrible shame when he did not reappear for the second half.
Sylvan Ebanks Blake (6)
Industrious performance by the rejuvenated striker but was unable to unlock the Fulham back line. Ran himself into the ground but could not find that sparkle to give us something special. Can’e be expected to do it every week, and his place in the side still seems sure considering the start he has made to the season.
Kevin Doyle (7)
After two man of the match performances for Ireland there was plenty of expectancy placed on Doyle. Continues to prove himself as one of the emerging stars of the Premiership. Typically smart display with plenty of threat and promise and created our goal from a a position from which there seemed little threat.
Matt Jarvis (7)
Will strike fear into defenders all season long but like a few others was unable to just find that little bit of magic. Ran himself into the ground as he does week in week out.
Stephen Fletcher (6)
Was swaying between wide and behind Blake and was not given much opportunity. Must surely be used as a front man in future.
David Jones (6)
Brought on to perhaps steady the ship with some controlled passing. Did not really put a foot wrong, although he did not set the game alight.
Five minutes at the end. What can you do with five minutes?