Columnist Graham Large revisits a memorable clash at Pride Park towards the end of Wolves’ Championship-winning 2008/2009 season.
April 13, 2009 is a day that will stay in the memories of Wolverhampton Wanderers fans for years to come.
And that day at Derby will be remembered as the day that Wolves all but secured their return to the Premier League after five years in the second tier.
In the lead up to the 2008/09 season, Wolves were determined to erase the disappointment of their previous, where they missed out on the play-offs on goal difference, and mount a serious challenge for promotion.
The Molineux men had led from the front after remaining top of the Championship since October, and occupying one of the two automatic promotion places since the third game of the season.
On Easter Monday, they travelled to Pride Park [now the iPro Stadium] knowing that a victory could put them within touching distance of a top flight return.
Andy Keogh set Wolves on their way with his seventh-minute opening, ending a 10-game goal drought with a fine volley from a long, speculative clearance by Christophe Berra.
But Derby came back with a vengeance and equalised in the 29th minute, thanks to a superb Przemyslaw Kazmierczak free-kick.
Derby were playing with a new confidence with some 30,000 fans cheering them on and Wolves were up against it heading into interval, but the result remained 1–1.
The pressure continued after the restart and the Rams took the lead in the 55th minute after Mile Sterjovski side footed the ball home from just inside the penalty area.
Matt Jarvis converted from close range after 73 minutes to level things up, before Marlon Harewood provided the inch-perfect cross for the perfectly-placed Andy Keogh to nod home the winner three minutes from time.
It wasn’t pretty, but the performance didn’t matter because Wolves had shown the quality of champions by coming from behind to snatch a dramatic victory from the proverbial jaws of defeat, and the man of the hour, the often-maligned Keogh, was only too happy to celebrate in front of travelling support.
Results elsewhere left Wolves only needing three points to secure their return to the Premier League, which they duly received the following weekend after beating Queens Park Rangers 1–0 at Molineux.
Wolves have only lost three of their last 19 games against their East Midlands counterparts, including a humiliating 5-0 loss in the reverse fixture at the iPro Stadium in November.
In contrast, Derby have just won one of their last seven trips to Molineux, which came back in September 2006 when a Steve Howard goal separated the two sides.
The last time these two teams met on a Friday night was in November 2005 when Wolves won 3–0 at Pride Park with goals from George Ndah (his last ever career goal), Tom Huddlestone (his first ever career goal; against his former club) and Vio Ganea.
It might not be so one-sided this time, but it’s a big game with both teams needing to win to maintain their hopes of promotion.
So it’s feasible to say that another blockbuster could be on the cards.