The sun shone and the north-east air turned unusually balmy, but Mick McCarthy must have been left harbouring fears that April really will prove the cruellest month.
Dismal defending left his Wolves players floundering in dangerously deep relegation waters on a day when, thanks to excellent displays from Joey Barton and Shola Ameobi, Newcastle moved to within touching distance of safety.
Life – well the remainder of the season – without their injured talisman Kevin Doyle began inauspiciously for Wolves and looks potentially grim. By half-time they were two down with Richard Stearman twice partly culpable.
First, the impressive Ameobi, all fast feet and aerial dominance, beat the centre-half in the air before flicking on for Kevin Nolan. Noting Wayne Hennessey's hesitancy – the goalkeeper came off his line and then paused for thought – Nolan stroked his 12th goal of the season into the empty net.
McCarthy switched from 4-5-1 to 4-4-2, introducing Stephen Fletcher, but Wolves still struggled to supply Matt Jarvis. True, the left winger was up against a strong right-sided pairing in Danny Simpson and Barton, but he received so little of the ball that Jarvis rarely tested either, releasing only a couple of menacing crosses.
Steve Harper was forced into a solitary first-half save, stopping a Sylvan Ebanks- Blake header shortly before Stearman's concession of possession led to Peter Lovenkrands crossing for Ameobi to head home.
Twelve bookings and complaints that Barton had been bullied had punctuated the draw at Molineux. George Elokobi and then Nenad Milijas were swiftly shown yellow cards for fouls on Barton, but Alan Pardew's side had little subsequent cause for complaint.
Indeed, McCarthy harboured the greatest grievance when Nolan cynically tripped Adam Hammill as he accelerated towards goal. Nolan, already booked, had reason for relief that Simpson's positioning made sure he was not the last defender.
Barton was dominant and, early in the second half, he crossed for Lovenkrands to sidefoot Newcastle's third before Wolves enjoyed a temporary respite when Jarvis seized possession and crossed incisively for Ebanks-Blake, whose first-time shot eluded Harper. Although Fletcher missed a sitter, Jonás Gutiérrez exacerbated visiting pain, claiming Newcastle's eye-catching stoppage-time fourth.
"We can enjoy our half of lager tonight," Pardew said. And McCarthy's assessment? "Tried hard, could do better." It threatens to become his team's epitaph.
THE FANS' PLAYER RATINGS AND VERDICT
DAVID HOLMES, Observer reader The result was a great relief. No one expected it and it did flatter us a bit. We haven't got a lot of flair players but we are not as route-one as some teams. Ameobi did well considering he had a nasty injury with that fractured cheekbone and was up against two hard centre-halves. The referee was terrible: bad challenges went unpunished, but when players just fell down, he was booking people. Gutiérrez redeemed himself at the end with a cracking goal, because he had been having a stinker. Barton is a class above the rest and we must keep him in the summer. Coloccini may be too small for this league, but he's skilful.
The fan's player ratings Harper 7; Simpson 6, Coloccini 7, Williamson 6, Ferguson 7 (Perch 59 5); Barton 8 (S Taylor 89 n/a) Guthrie 6, Nolan 7, Gutiérrez 6; Lovenkrands 6 (Ranger 68 6), Ameobi 7
LOUIE SILVANI, MyWolvesblog.com This was a shocker defensively. We gave Newcastle too much room. They don't look that threatening. Their first goal was just a big boot forward and no one in our defence picked up Nolan's run. You can't have that happening when you are in our position. We didn't get the ball out to Jarvis. The first time we did he crossed and we scored. The game-changing moment was when Hammill was through and Nolan clipped him. It was a straight red. There may have been another defender beyond him but it was a clear scoring chance. We will keep fighting and I expect us to beat Everton next weekend.
The fan's player ratings Hennessey 7; Foley 6, Stearman 7, Berra 6, Elokobi 5 (Ward 81 n/a); Hammill 6 (Kightly 53 6), Milijas 6 (Fletcher 30 6), Henry 7, O'Hara 8, Jarvis 7; Ebanks-Blake 7
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