As Vitinha’s sublime strike sealed a hard-fought 1-0 victory over non-league Chorley on Friday, Nuno Espirito Santo admitted Wolves had been fortunate to scrape into the FA Cup fifth round.
After a lackluster showing at Victory Park, Nuno’s side was lucky to escape an embarrassing upset.
A brilliant long-range drive by Vitinha put Wolves ahead early in the first half.
But sixth tier Chorley, the last non-league club in the competition this season, challenged the Wolves all the way and could have forced extra-time easily.
Before they sealed a last 16 tie against Southampton or Arsenal, Wolves keeper John Ruddy needed to make some strong saves.
“They were well organized. We should have moved the ball faster but a win is a win. They were tough,” said Nuno.
“The scene was set for us to lose this game. It was difficult to keep possession. We adapted well to the pitch. It was important for everyone we went to the next round.”
In their last six Premier League games, Wolves are winless, and after their trip to suburban Lancashire, Nuno can hardly be reassured that a revival is around the corner.
Nuno made six changes to local rivals West Bromwich Albion from last weekend’s defeat, but still featured Conor Coady, Joao Moutinho, and Fabio Silva’s £ 35 million pre-season signature.
Chorley Captain Scott Leather booked the day off from his work as a lift engineer to play for the part-timers, illustrating the large gap between the teams.
Many of Leather’s colleagues, including Jamie Vermiglio, their boss, who is a primary school headteacher, spent the day at work.
National League North Chorley was enjoying their best FA Cup run after beating Wigan, Peterborough, and Derby and they also gave Wolves a real scare.
We said we were just disappointed. That says so much. Every time we got into the box, we were excellent, very disciplined, and looked like we were going to score,” Vermiglio said.
“Our lads’ credit. There are part-time players with a full-time attitude,
“We have enjoyed every moment of it. We have done ourselves proud. An amazing moment for all of us.”
When Harry Cardwell picked out Elliot Newby’s run into the Wolves field, Chorley nearly snatched the lead and he chested down for a low shot that Ruddy smothered.
Some residents got a free view of the action from their gardens, with houses lining the tiny field, while cardboard cut out of celebrity Chorley fan and pop star Adele sat in one of the stands.