Wolves 1-0 Preston: Danny Batth hits winner
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 07/05/17 3:22pm
Wolves captain Danny Batth's early strike secured a 1-0 Sky Bet Championship victory against Preston at Molineux.
Central defender Batth struck in the second minute as Wolves picked up only their eighth home win of the season.
Preston were caught cold by Batth's close-range header as their campaign ended in disappointing fashion. They lost five of their last six games, taking a solitary point from the 18 on offer.
Wolves made the perfect start when a run into the area from Jordan Graham forced the visitors to concede a corner. Graham, who was making his first start since January 2016 following his long road back to fitness following a knee injury, floated over the cross which Batth met with a powerful header at the far post.
Preston sought a quick response but skipper Paul Gallagher flashed his 11th-minute free-kick well wide. Batth was then inches away from doubling Wolves' advantage when he flashed another header narrowly wide following a centre from Andreas Weimann.
Preston found clear chances hard to come by and the closest they came to a first-half equaliser was six minutes before the interval when Stevie May tried his luck for 25 yards.
May, who was making a second successive start as he continues his comeback from the career-threatening knee damage that he suffered against Fulham in November 2015, drilled in a low shot that had goalkeeper Andy Lonergan scurrying across his goal before the ball flew past his far post.
Wolves were by far the more positive-looking side and they should have made the game safe in a frantic start to the second period.
Nouha Dicko dispossessed Preston defender Alex Baptiste in the 48th minute and rolled the ball across the face of goal only for Bright Enobakhare to crash his shot off the foot of Chris Maxwell's post.
Three minutes later, Dicko was presented with an excellent chance by a neat pass from Dave Edwards. But he was denied by Maxwell who spread himself well to turn away his shot. Maxwell did well again to keep Preston in the game on the hour when he stuck out a foot to save Enobakhare's low drive.
Preston finally mounted a flurry of their own that was spearheaded by Jordan Hugill who had two headers - one wide and one saved in the top corner by Lonergan.
Substitute Daryl Horgan then forced Lonergan to tip his stoppage-time strike over the bar as Wolves successfully protected Batth's early strike.
Wolves boss Paul Lambert:
"For me, if you are outside the top six and you are above the relegation line it is immaterial. Nothing is gained, you are only in the league again. You have to go for the sixth and that is what we will try and do.
"I have been successful on a lot of fronts - as a player I was successful in Europe, I played in two European finals, I played in the World Cup and I won the biggest honour in club football (the Champions League with Borussia Dortmund), so I know what success is.
"I want the club to have success and to have a fighting chance that you have something to play for towards the end of the season."
Preston boss Simon Grayson:
"Obviously we are disappointed with the way that the season has panned out. But you've got to look at the bigger picture. I am immensely proud of the players with what they have done this season and ultimately when you look at it, if someone had said we would finish the season above Aston Villa we would have taken that.
"We have finished above a lot of teams who have got bigger resources, so I don't want the last month to cloud what has been a really good season. I think the players have just run out of steam that they have had for 90 per cent of the season."