A SPIRITED second half fightback couldn't prevent Stoke City from suffering a disappointing start to their third season in the Barclays Premier League . . . as they lost the Staffordshire derby and lost club record signing Kenwyne Jones with an ankle injury.
Despite Abdoulaye Faye pulling a goal back shortly after the break, Tony Pulis' side were unable to salvage a point after they fell behind to first half goals from David Jones and Steven Fletcher which proved to be enough to earn Wolverhampton Wanderers victory.
To make matters worse for City, £8 million signing Jones hobbled off with what looked like a serious injury to his right ankle early in the game after going down under a challenge from Jody Craddock and he left the ground on crutches after the 2-1 defeat at Molineux.
All of that was a contrast to the bright opening in which the Trinidad and Tobago international striker went close to marking his debut in style with a goal.
The big striker showed his power in a run down the right and he shrugged off the presence of Christophe Berra before unleashing a shot which beat Marcus Hahnemann, but cannoned out off the bar.
City had other moments in the early stages of the game as they enjoyed the greater possession and Matthew Etherington in particular looked very lively on the left hand side with a couple of bursts into dangerous positions to unsettle the Wolves defence.
But after both Jelle Van Damme and Rory Delap had been in the wars, picking up head injuries, it was the next delay which saw the afternoon turn sour for the Potters as Jones went down under a strong challenge from Craddock and had to be helped off with an injury to his right ankle.
Wolves had the ball in the net in the early stages when Jones fired home a shot from 10 yards, but the referee had already blown for a foul on Thomas Sorensen as he challenged for Ward's cross.
Etherington caused more problems for the Wolves defence by advancing down the left hand side and he found Ricardo Fuller with his low cross, but the striker's first time shot was blocked.
The winger threatened again moments later and delivered a menacing cross into the box where Ward was relieved to see his misdirected header fly behind for a corner to the Potters.
Wolves began to exert an increasing amount of pressure and there was a scare for City when Jarvis sent over a cross from the right. Initial appeals for handball were rejected as Fletcher had one shot blocked by Ryan Shawcross and his second attempt was charged down by Dean Whitehead.
The home side broke the deadlock in the 38th minute when they were awarded a free kick for a foul by Whitehead right on the edge of the box, one which had referee Lee Probert hesitating for a moment before he opted not to point to the spot, giving the free kick instead.
Karl Henry touched the free kick to Jones who flicked it up before unleashing a dipping left foot volley which flew past Sorensen and went in off the underside of the bar.
Before City could recover from that setback, they found themselves two goals down as Berra's cross from the right deflected off Faye and looped over for Fletcher to tuck it away at the far post.
Things could have been even worse for the Potters as Jarvis fired in a shot from the edge of the box but saw it deflected behind for a corner, much to Sorensen's relief.
Pulis wasted no time in making a change early in the second half as City tried to force their way back into the match, with Tuncay coming on to replace Mamady Sidibe up front.
It had an immediate effect, even though Tuncay wasn't involved, as Faye rose to head home an Etherington corner which was swung in from the right hand side in the 55th minute.
Tuncay did, however, have an opportunity to pull City level when he was picked out by Whelan on a break forward but the Turkish international blazed his left foot shot over the bar.
Wolves should have gone further ahead midway through the second half when Jarvis had two attempts at goal, the first of them saved by Sorensen before the second flew wide.
City threw men forward in search of a late equaliser and Etherington volleyed a shot well wide from the edge of the box when Wolves only half-cleared a long throw from Delap.
Although there were moments after that when the Potters put pressure on the home side, they rarely threatened to snatch an equaliser, even though Tuncay almost pounced on a slip in the Wolves defence only to be beaten to the through ball by the alert Hahnemann.