David Jones's opening wondergoal justified wild celebrations from Wolves
By Mark Ashenden
David Jones scored a stunning free-kick as Wolves secured the spoils in this belting season-opener with Stoke City.
The visitors looked lively as Kenwyne Jones hit the bar on three minutes before injury forced his early exit.
David Jones then stole the show with a 20-yard volley after a cute free-kick from Karl Henry and Steven Fletcher nodded in a second before the interval.
Abdoulaye Faye headed Stoke back into the contest but Stephen Ward twice went close for the hosts late in the game.
The first match of the season it may have been but this could already prove to be a huge victory for the team who ended up nine points behind Stoke three months ago as they finished 15th in their first year back in the top flight.
Saturday's evidence would suggest manager Mick McCarthy could expect to more than match that effort, while Stoke's Tony Pulis will be desperately hoping new boy Kenwyne Jones makes a swift recovery, with the Potters appearing to lack firepower up front.
McCarthy happy with Wolves display
McCarthy was showing off defender Jelle van Damme and record-signing Fletcher in front of the home fans for the first time, but it was a debutant from the visitors who seemed most eager to impress in the opening exchanges.
Kenwyne Jones, an £8m acquisition from Sunderland in midweek, came within a whisker of the opener inside 180 seconds when he shrugged off two challenges down the right before crashing a thunderous shot against the woodwork.
However, his contribution was short-lived as he hobbled off in tears just seven minutes later, to be replaced by Mamady Sidibe, following a sliding tackle from Jody Craddock.
It seemed to knock the wind out of the sails of Stoke, who are looking to build on their impressive 12th and 11th place finishes in the previous two seasons.
Van Damme was proving his skills at forging forward, as well as defending, and with the Potters increasingly pushed onto the back foot, a whipped-in cross from the Belgian was met by Fletcher, but he could only volley it wastefully high.
Both teams looked comfortable in possession but seemed a little shy in making the final push at goal until Wolves surged forward on the half-hour.
Sylvan Ebanks-Blake had a shot saved by the legs of Thomas Sorenson and Fletcher was then denied by some desperate defending having danced his way around two tackles.
The best was yet to come, however, with Wolves handed a free-kick on the edge of the box after defender Kevin Foley was hacked down by Dean Whitehead.
Henry rolled the ball back to David Jones, who flicked it up and volleyed in off the underside of the bar for a stunning opening goal and just reward for a devastating few minutes of football.
The Stoke defence had barely got their breath back when Christophe Berra battled down the right and looped over a cross. It was deflected on to Fletcher at the back post and his header capped a fabulous debut.
Pulis had to ring the changes in the second half and even substituted striker Sidibe, who had earlier replaced the injured Jones.
Nine minutes after the break Stoke struck back, with defender Faye rising above the static hosts to head in Matthew Etherington's in-swinging corner.
Pulis complains about added time
The contest was back on and the visitors sensed a miraculous recovery but Ryan Shawcross spurned a good chance as he headed tamely into the hands of Marcus Hahnemann.
As the floodlights came on amidst the torrential rain it seemed the visitors were fired up to acquire at least a point from this lively affair.
However, as the legs of the Stoke players faded in the closing stages Wolves finally produced an attack of their own, with Ward seeing two shots go close.
In the ensuing melee the hosts screamed for a penalty after the ball appeared to hit the arm of Danny Higginbotham, but a third goal was not needed as they held on for three big points.
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