The hosts, who suffered a surprise loss to Sheffield United in midweek, dominated the early stages with Ollie Watkins and Ezri Konsa both hitting the crossbar. Aston Villa’s European hopes suffered another setback as they were held to a goalless draw by Wolves in their West Midlands derby.
But with the influential Jack Grealish again missing as he recovers from injury, Villa faded after the break as Wolves sparked into life. Having failed to create a chance of note during the first period, Nuno Espirito Santo‘s visitors somehow contrived to miss several gilt-edged chances to snatch all three points.
Romain Saiss blazed an effort over the bar from practically on the goal-line after Conor Coady had headed against a post, while another close-range effort from Coady drew a superb save from Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez to ensure the spoils were shared.
The result leaves Villa ninth in the table on 40 points while Wolves remain 12th, five points further back. Villa desperate for Grealish return
Defeat by the Blades had left Villa boss Dean Smith calling for an instant reaction to boost hopes of qualifying for Europe for the first time in a decade.
And when Watkins fired a 25-yard effort against the bar it appeared to be a promising early signal of intent.
With Wolves barely able to get out of their own half it seemed only a matter of time before the hosts went in front, particularly when Konsa rattled the woodwork from Bertrand Traore’s cross.
But until another late Konsa effort, that was the best Villa could muster. With Grealish watching from the stands, Smith must have wished that he could turned to his talismanic captain as the game began to slip away.
Instead, Ross Barkley, a substitute for the third game running, was introduced but did little to push his case for a starting berth, managing just five touches in the Wolves half during his 35-minute cameo.
With Villa six points off Europa League qualification and seven from a Champions League spot, Smith will hope Grealish’s impending return can prevent a season of promise ending with a whimper.
A tale of two halves for Wolves
Only Burnley, Newcastle, West Brom and Sheffield United have managed fewer goals on their travels than Wolves this season.
And having seemingly been set up to utilise the pace of Pedro Neto and Adama Traore on the counter, their first-half performance underlined many of the reasons why.
While Neto and Traore offer plenty with the ball at their feet they were scarcely given the opportunity to threaten as Wolves failed to record an effort on target.
Often receiving the ball deep, the duo were repeatedly smothered by Villa’s three midfield players, and on the rare opportunities, they managed to advance little arrived by the way of support.
Only Sheffield United have failed to score in more opening periods in the Premier League this term, but Wolves improved markedly after the break.
Neto tested Martinez five minutes after the interval to set the tone and both Joao Moutinho and Ruben Neves appeared to have been given the freedom to roam forward.
A well-worked corner routine saw Coady hit the post before a stretching Saiss lifted the ball over the bar from barely a yard out.
Wolves were unfortunate that their next opportunity from Willian Jose’s skewed shot also fell to their England defender Coady, who while excellent at the other end of the pitch – making more clearances than any other player (eight) – is not noted for his finishing prowess.