Afternoon all! Sports Mole
's Championship coverage continues from Molineux as Wolverhampton Wanderers
welcome Norwich City
in the final fixture of matchday one in England's second tier. Both sides will be expected to be challenging for promotion come May, with Wolves hoping to make it back-to-back promotions. Right, let me bring you the confirmed team news and there are some debut boys.
WOLVES: Ikeme; Doherty, Batth, Stearman, Golbourne; McDonald, Evans, Van La Parra, Edwards, Sako; Dicko
NORWICH: Ruddy; Whittaker, Martin, Turner, Olsson; Johnson; E Bennett, Surman; Hoolahan; Redmond, Grabban
So there we have it. Summer signing Rajiv van La Parra starts for Wolves this afternoon, while Danny Batth will skipper the side from defence. Carl Ikeme, Richard Stearman and Dave Edwards
– who all signed new deals in the summer – also start for the home team. Norwich, meanwhile, hand a competitive debut to summer signing Lewis Grabban, with the striker joined in attack by Nathan Redmond. Martin Olsson
, Russell Martin and Bradley Johnson also start in what is a XI full of Premier League experience.
As mentioned, Wolves secured their return to the Championship last season after winning League One. They scored the most goals (89) and conceded the fewest (31) on their way to the title in the 2013-14 campaign. In total, they lost just five of their 46 league games last season – a quite incredible statistic.
Wolves have also not lost a league match since March, when they were beaten 2-1 at Crawley. Since then, they are unbeaten in 10 league games. That said, Wolves have not won either of their last two opening-day games. Their last win was a 2-1 Premier League success over Blackburn Rovers in August 2011.
Despite the fact that Norwich are unbeaten in the last five meetings between these two sides, Wolves are unbeaten in their last 13 against the Canaries at Molineux in all competitions. Norwich's only win in this particular stadium occurred back in September 1995. Norwich, however, did win the last meeting 2-1 at Carrow Road in March 2012. Right, little over 10 minutes until kickoff on this warm afternoon in Wolverhampton.
Norwich, meanwhile, were relegated from the Premier League last season after finishing in 18th position, three points shy of 17th-place West Bromwich Albion. They have kept the majority of their squad together, however, and are expected to challenge for promotion. This afternoon will be a good indicator of their ability to compete at this level of football. It is a different challenge to the Premier League.
While Wolves were used to winning games last season, that is not the case for Norwich, who lost six of their final seven games of last season. Their last win in the league came against Sunderland on March 22, while they scored just 28 league goals last season, which was comfortably the lowest total in the entire division.
Norwich have also not won any of their last 11 opening-day games, losing five times in the process. Incredibly, the last time that the Canaries won their first match of the campaign was back in August 2002, when they beat Grimsby Town 4-0. Is a draw on the cards this afternoon?
Here we go then. The pre-match handshakes have been undertaken and the flags have been exchanged. It promises to be a fascinating Championship encounter between these two sides. Wolves get the first period underway.
Half-chance for Wolves inside two minutes as Sako finds Edwards inside the Norwich box, but he turns his effort high of the crossbar. It must be said that the Norwich squad looks very strong for this level of football. Wolves, however, have been used to winning football matches over the last 12 months or so.
Another half-chance for Wolves as Van La Parra meets a cross from the left, but his effort is straight at Ruddy. Moments before, Edwards had tumbled inside the Norwich box, but the referee was not interested. It has been a bright start from the home side, who have controlled possession in the early exchanges.
Opportunity for Norwich to threaten from a free kick as Stearman - who is lucky to escape a card - fells Bennett just outside the Wolves box. The resulting set piece is taken by Johnson, but his effort is straight into the wall. Plenty happening in the opening five minutes of this Championship contest.
Wolves continue to force the issue in wide areas with Van La Parra and Sako both delivering into the Norwich box, but Turner and Martin take it in turns to clear the danger. Norwich break with Redmond, but the youngster runs into traffic and the Canaries are forced to retreat. Still goalless after seven minutes.
Half-chance for Norwich this time as Redmond drives past two defenders before placing one towards the bottom corner, but his effort was always moving wide of Ikeme's post.
Batth threatens for Wolves from a corner, but his header was always dropping wide of the post. You just get the feeling that the first goal - if there indeed is one - will be vital in a contest of this magnitude.
Half-chance for Norwich this time as Bennett's effort from the edge of the box is deflected towards goal, but Ikeme backtracks before collecting. Not too much to report in terms of clear chances in the last few minutes, but Norwich have started to enjoy more of the ball, especially in midfield areas. Ikeme spills a long pass from Surman moments later, but Wolves manage to clear the danger.
Slight lull in proceedings in the last couple of minutes, with Norwich dominating possession without really threatening to break through the Wolves defence. Still goalless with 15 minutes on the clock.
In truth, this is not great at the moment. Both sides are struggling to find that elusive pass in the final third, with each defence on top at this stage of the match. Olsson hits the deck with a problem for Norwich following a clash with Van La Parra, but it does appear that he will be fit to continue.
Elsewhere in England, Arsenal have gone 3-0 up against Manchester City in the Community Shield. Quite a turn-up there. Here, however, we are being starved of clear chances. Edwards is again the target from a Dicko cross, but Turner is on hand to clear with a powerful header.
Neither defence is too concerned at the moment as the majority of the football continues to be played in the middle of the park. We have seen little from either side's attackers thus far, while the referee has been called into action to deal with a number of late challenges in the last couple of minutes.
Norwich have the chance to threaten from a free kick, but Surman's delivery is far too long. In truth, that sums up the quality of the match thus far. Both sides have struggled in the final third of the field.
Grabban threatens for Norwich after finding some space in a wide position, but his cross is cleared by Stearman. Wolves are down the other end with Golbourne moments later, but the full-back fells Turner and Norwich have possession of the ball. Still we wait for the first real chance of the match.
Sako threatens for Wolves after breaking down the left before delivering into the box, but Turner is on hand to clear once more. Redmond breaks for Norwich before attempting to feed Grabban, but once more it breaks down.
In truth, a draw would not be the worst result for either of these sides this afternoon, but there is still a lot of football to be played. It is the type of match where one goal could be enough to win it.
Van La Parra continues to impress on his Wolves debut as he drops his shoulder before delivering into Norwich box, but Turner is first to the ball. The resulting corner is delivered towards the six-yard box, but Ruddy is on hand to claim and relieve the pressure. Little over 10 minutes of the first period remaining.
Good football from Wolves once more as the home side work the ball from left to right before Van La Parra delivers, but once more Norwich clear the danger. The Canaries have not offered too much in the final third this afternoon, but have been extremely compact in defensive areas.
Slightly untidy period of the match in the last couple of moments, with the referee forced to intervene following a number of late challenges. However, there has still not been a single yellow card issued.
Both sides continue to cancel each other out as we enter the final five minutes of the first period in Wolverhampton. The home team have been the most positive outfit, but neither has created a chance of note. A goal before the interval would certainly change the outlook of the second 45 minutes.
The atmosphere has dropped inside the stadium and that is a direct reflection of matters on the field. In truth, it has been the type of match that was expected - tight and compact. Both defences are going to be difficult to break down this season that is for certain.
Sako threatens for Wolves after driving down the left before delivering into the Norwich box, but once more Martin is on hand to clear the danger. Wolves are ending the half as the brighter team.
HALF-TIME: Wolves 0-0 Norwich
So there we have it. The referee brings the first period to an end with the two sides level at 0-0. In truth, neither side has created a chance of note, but Wolves have been much the brighter outfit. It is the type of match where one goal could be enough to claim all three points.
STATS: Wolves have had more of the ball with 58%, while they have had five attempts - none of which have been on target. Norwich have also failed to register an attempt on target thus far. There has been one yellow card issued, meanwhile, with Olsson in the book for Norwich.
BENCH WATCH: Wolves have options on their bench in the shape of James Henry, Leon Clarke and Jack Price. Meanwhile, Norwich have the likes of Kyle Lafferty, Jamar Loza and Josh Murphy in reserve. Both managers certainly have the ability to influence proceedings from their benches this afternoon.
Here we go then. Both sets of players join us on the pitch for the second 45 minutes. Is there a goal in this Championship affair? Let's hope so! Norwich get the second period underway in Wolverhampton.
No changes from either manager at the interval, which is not much of a surprise at this stage of proceedings. However, I suspect that alterations will occur if the score remains goalless for the next 15 minutes or so. Dicko has an effort for Wolves in the opening minutes of the half, but his strike is high and wide.
Half-chance for Norwich as Hoolahan strikes one from outside the box, but his effort was always moving wide of the post. The signs are certainly positive in the early moments of the second period.
CHANCE! Wonderful chance for Wolves as Dicko delivers a dangerous cross towards Sako, but the striker cannot make contact at the far post. Just about as close as Wolves have come this afternoon.
Half-chance for Norwich as Surman breaks into the Wolves box before attempting to find the bottom corner, but Stearman is across to make the block. Moments later, Grabban races into the Wolves box, but his effort is straight at Ikeme. Chances are starting to occur at both ends of the field.
Little over 30 minutes of football remaining and still no signs of changes on either bench, but both managers will be considering their options at this stage of proceedings. You just get the feeling that there is a goal in this match and it might just be enough to claim all three points.
Another half-chance for Norwich as Redmond finds some space inside the Wolves box, but his effort was always moving high and wide of the crossbar. Both sides have had seven attempts on goal, but just one has been on target - that strike from Norwich forward Grabban, which Ikeme pushed wide of the goal.
RED CARD! Norwich are reduced to 10 men as Olsson is given his marching orders for bringing Van La Parra to the ground just outside the box. Second bookable offence for the left-back.
The resulting free kick is taken by Sako, but his effort is straight into the body of Ruddy, who collects into his chest. This match is livening up with little under 30 minutes of football remaining.
SUB! Norwich make their first change of the match as Hoolahan is replaced by Garrido. Not much of a surprise to be honest - Garrido will slot into the left-back berth vacated by Olsson.
GOAL! Wolves 1-0 Norwich (Edwards)
Wolves have the lead with 64 minutes on the clock as Edwards guides a beautiful header into the back of the net from close range. First blood to the home side!
SUB! Second Norwich change as Tettey enters the field in place of Surman.
It must be said that there is a wonderful atmosphere inside the stadium at the moment as Wolves continue to dominate the ball. Norwich threaten from a long-range strike from Bennett, but his effort was always moving wide of the post. Little over 20 minutes of this Championship affair remaining.
You just get the feeling that there is another goal in this match. In truth, the first period was not great, but the second half has been sensational thus far. Just a reminder that Norwich have already made two of their three permitted changes, but Wolves are yet to look to their bench this afternoon.
Possession football from Wolves in the last couple of minutes and in truth, Norwich are struggling to exert their influence on the match. The crowd are up and Wolves are flying each time they attack at the moment.
Edwards is full of it at the moment as the Welshman again breaks forward before threatening to collect a pass from Evans, but this time the midfielder cannot collect. Not too much from Norwich in the last few minutes.
SUB! Norwich make their third and final change as Lafferty replaces Whittaker.
Lafferty has been a problem for Wolves since entering, with the powerful striker first setting up strike partner Grabban before having an effort of his own deflected wide of the post. The Canaries threaten with two corners in quick succession, but Berra and Edwards take it in turns to clear the danger.
CHANCE! Wonderful chance for Sako to send Wolves 2-0 ahead following brilliant work from Dicko, but the striker's effort is straight at Ruddy, who keeps Norwich in this match.
Johnson tries his luck for Norwich after meeting a high ball outside the box, but his volley was always moving wide of the post.
SUB! Wolves make their first change as Sako is replaced by Michael Jacobs.
BOOKING! Garrido enters the book for Norwich following a poor challenge on Van La Parra, which leaves the Dutchman in a heap on the ground. Little over five minutes of this contest remaining.
Possession football from Wolves as we enter the final five minutes of this Championship clash. However, you just get the feeling that there will be another chance before all is said and done in Wolverhampton.
SUB! Second change for Wolves as Van La Parra is replaced by James Henry.
SUB! Third and final change for Wolves as Clarke replaces Dicko.
Little over two minutes of football remaining and still Wolves lead courtesy of that header from Edwards. Clarke has a half-chance to make it 2-0, but the substitute fires one just wide of the post.
BOOKING! Martin is booked for Norwich following a late challenge on Clarke.
We are into the second of five additional minutes. Wolves are the team that continue to threaten, however, with Norwich short of ideas in the final third of the field.
Half-chance for Clarke to run away from the Norwich defence following a pass from Edwards, but Garrido just does enough to clear at the vital moment. Still Wolves lead 1-0 with two minutes remaining.
Half-chance for Norwich following a long free kick from Ruddy, but Grabban cannot make enough contact after turning inside the Wolves box. Finally some late, late pressure from the Canaries.
FULL-TIME: Wolves 1-0 Norwich
So there we have it. Wolves open their Championship campaign with a 1-0 win over Norwich. In truth, the away side never really threatened to take something from the match. Thanks for joining Sports Mole for the action. Until next time!