Wolves' hopes of avoiding relegation from the Premier League suffered a serious blow as Stoke came from behind to win at the Britannia Stadium.
Home keeper Asmir Begovic's error to let Michael Kightly's pass bounce past him and in to the net gave the visitors hope of snatching a vital victory.
But the lead lasted just over 10 minutes as Robert Huth hammered Stoke level from inside the box.
Peter Crouch's looping header consigned Wanderers to another damaging defeat.
Terry Connor's side remain stranded at the bottom of the Premier League, six points from safety with just six games remaining - the result of a disastrous run of eight matches without a win since the former assistant manager's elevation to the hottest of Molineux seats.
With three of their relegation rivals losing earlier on Saturday, Wolves could not have asked for better circumstances to secure a confidence-boosting victory to claw their way back into the battle against the drop.
However, for all their effort - and the occasional flash of brilliance from wingers Kightly and Matt Jarvis - Wanderers simply did not demonstrate enough quality to suggest they are capable of halting their quiet slide into the Championship.
Wolves defeat is their sixth in a row in the Premier League. This is their longest losing run in the top flight since a six-match streak from March to April 1982.
But for Begovic's howler - which saw him sufficiently distracted by the run and air-shot from Dave Edwards to allow Kightly's forward pass to find the net unchallenged - the visitors would barely have tested the home keeper.
This was not from a lack of trying by the Wolves wide-men, who demonstrated an alertness their striking colleagues could not match.
Their only other opportunities came from set-pieces, one of which was headed just wide by defender Sebastien Bassong.
City were not much better. The Potters crafted clearer chances but lacked the intensity that has made the Britannia such an unhappy venue for opposition sides and they looked like a side seeing out a heavy season - this was their 50th game of the campaign.
That said, they should have led before Wolves' opener but somehow Jonathan Walters conspired to head wide from five yards with an open goal in front of him following Crouch's downward header.
After conceding, Stoke struck back quickly as Huth smashed home from 15 yards after Ryan Shawcross had chested into his path.
The second half was not an improvement on the first but it did contain the game's decisive moment as Crouch rose to loop a header over Wayne Hennessey and into the far corner of the net.
Stoke manager Tony Pulis: "We are safe and it's a fabulous achievement. The commitment and energy was fantastic.
"If Wolves can win three games on the bounce then they will change their situation. They've got a lot to play for.
"I would personally take Peter [Crouch to Euro 2012 with England]. He's a game changer. The thing with Crouchy is he scores all types of goals."
Wolves manager Terry Connor: "I think we did enough to take a draw. The lads put in a tremendous effort.
"I don't feel there was a foul committed for the winner.
"I've asked the lads for tremendous effort, which they're giving. We'll keep going until the end of the season."
Live Text Commentary
Full Time The match has reached full-time.90:00 +0:46
Asmir Begovic takes the free kick.90:00 +0:46 Substitution
Substitution Rory Delap replaces Peter Crouch.90:00 +0:46
Kevin Doyle gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Ryan Shawcross.88:30
Kevin Doyle takes a shot. Save by Asmir Begovic.88:03
Sebastien Bassong crosses the ball, Marc Wilson manages to make a clearance.87:16
Free kick awarded for a foul by Marc Wilson on Michael Kightly. Free kick taken by Michael Kightly.85:57 Substitution
Substitution Wilson Palacios joins the action as a substitute, replacing Jermaine Pennant.85:21 Substitution
Substitution David Davis on for Karl Henry.84:37
Inswinging corner taken by Matthew Jarvis.82:33 Substitution
Substitution Sylvan Ebanks-Blake leaves the field to be replaced by Kevin Doyle.79:09
Michael Kightly takes a outswinging corner.78:47
Michael Kightly takes a shot. Blocked by Glenn Whelan.76:59
Robert Huth challenges Sylvan Ebanks-Blake unfairly and gives away a free kick. Ronald Zubar takes the free kick.75:20
Headed effort from deep inside the area by Ryan Shawcross misses to the right of the goal.74:11
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Jonathan Walters by Richard Stearman. Jermaine Pennant takes the free kick.73:17
The ball is swung over by Jermaine Pennant, Richard Stearman makes a clearance.70:28
Matthew Jarvis produces a right-footed shot from deep inside the penalty box which goes wide of the left-hand post.69:28
The referee blows for offside against Jermaine Pennant. Wayne Hennessey takes the indirect free kick.68:23 Substitution
Substitution Cameron Jerome comes on in place of Matthew Etherington.
A cross is delivered by Matthew Jarvis, Glenn Whelan gets a block in.66:51
The assistant referee flags for offside against Sylvan Ebanks-Blake. Marc Wilson takes the free kick.66:09
Inswinging corner taken by Matthew Jarvis from the left by-line played to the near post, Robert Huth manages to make a clearance.65:54
The ball is swung over by Michael Kightly, clearance made by Ryan Shotton.64:00
Handball decision goes against Richard Stearman. Asmir Begovic restarts play with the free kick.63:27
Corner taken by Michael Kightly from the right by-line.63:14
The ball is sent over by Matthew Jarvis, clearance made by Marc Wilson.62:09
Corner from the right by-line taken by Matthew Etherington, Headed effort from inside the penalty area by Peter Crouch misses to the right of the target.60:46
Assist on the goal came from Jermaine Pennant.60:46 Goal scored
Goal! - Peter Crouch - Stoke 2 - 1 Wolves Peter Crouch finds the back of the net with a headed goal from inside the penalty box. Stoke 2-1 Wolverhampton.60:02
Stephen Ward challenges Jermaine Pennant unfairly and gives away a free kick. The ball is sent over by Jermaine Pennant,58:07
Jermaine Pennant is caught offside. Wayne Hennessey restarts play with the free kick.57:10
Sebastien Bassong gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Jonathan Walters. Jermaine Pennant restarts play with the free kick.56:36
Centre by Ronald Zubar, Robert Huth manages to make a clearance.54:51
Unfair challenge on Peter Crouch by Ronald Zubar results in a free kick. Marc Wilson takes the free kick.54:35
Ryan Shawcross delivers the ball.52:05
Unfair challenge on Sylvan Ebanks-Blake by Robert Huth results in a free kick. The ball is delivered by Michael Kightly, Close range header by Sebastien Bassong goes wide of the left-hand post.50:50
Ryan Shawcross is ruled offside. Wayne Hennessey takes the indirect free kick.48:08
Ryan Shotton concedes a free kick for a foul on Michael Kightly. Steven Fletcher produces a shot on goal direct from the free kick, save by Asmir Begovic.47:15
Richard Stearman gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Jonathan Walters. Direct free kick taken by Glenn Whelan.46:57
A cross is delivered by Stephen Ward, clearance made by Robert Huth.46:41
The ball is crossed by Stephen Ward, Dean Whitehead makes a clearance.45:31
Michael Kightly takes a outswinging corner from the right by-line played to the near post, clearance made by Glenn Whelan.45:12
Glenn Whelan produces a cross, clearance made by Richard Stearman.45:01
The referee blows his whistle to start the second half.45:00 +2:26 Half time
Half Time The referee blows for half time.45:00 +1:39
Foul by Glenn Whelan on Steven Fletcher, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Michael Kightly.45:00 +0:14
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Jonathan Walters by Richard Stearman. Strike on goal comes in from Jermaine Pennant from the free kick.43:55
Michael Kightly takes the outswinging corner, Steven Fletcher challenges Robert Huth unfairly and gives away a free kick. Asmir Begovic takes the direct free kick.42:15
Jonathan Walters takes a shot. Save by Wayne Hennessey.39:23
Marc Wilson takes a shot.38:40
Ryan Shawcross takes a shot. Save made by Wayne Hennessey.37:45
Free kick awarded for a foul by Sebastien Bassong on Jonathan Walters. Free kick taken by Jermaine Pennant.36:13
Ryan Shawcross provided the assist for the goal.36:13 Goal scored
Goal! - Robert Huth - Stoke 1 - 1 Wolves Robert Huth scores a goal from the edge of the area to the bottom right corner of the goal. Stoke 1-1 Wolverhampton.35:15
Matthew Etherington delivers the ball from the free kick left-footed from left wing, Sebastien Bassong makes a clearance.35:15 Booking
Booking Michael Kightly is shown a yellow card.35:09 Booking
Booking Matthew Etherington shown a yellow card.34:20
Unfair challenge on Matthew Etherington by Michael Kightly results in a free kick.33:29
Peter Crouch produces a right-footed shot from just outside the box that goes wide right of the goal.32:30
Pass corner from right by-line crossed in by Michael Kightly, clearance by Peter Crouch.30:42
Michael Kightly takes a shot. Dean Whitehead gets a block in.29:47
David Edwards takes a shot. Save by Asmir Begovic.25:39
The assist for the goal came from David Edwards. Robert Huth takes a shot. Karl Henry gets a block in.25:39 Goal scored
Goal! - Michael Kightly - Stoke 0 - 1 Wolves Michael Kightly finds the net with a goal from just outside the area to the bottom right corner of the goal. Stoke 0-1 Wolverhampton.25:38
Michael Kightly produces a cross,25:18
The ball is delivered by Matthew Etherington, Sebastien Bassong manages to make a clearance.24:01
Free kick awarded for a foul by Steven Fletcher on Ryan Shawcross. Asmir Begovic takes the free kick.23:06
Jonathan Walters takes a shot. Sebastien Bassong gets a block in.23:05
Jonathan Walters produces a header from close range which goes wide of the left-hand upright.22:37
Peter Crouch has a headed effort at goal from close in which goes wide left of the target.21:33
Centre by Matthew Jarvis, Ryan Shawcross manages to make a clearance.20:23
Inswinging corner taken by Jermaine Pennant from the left by-line.20:06
The ball is sent over by Matthew Etherington, clearance by Richard Stearman.19:06
Matthew Jarvis produces a cross, clearance made by Marc Wilson.15:39
The offside flag is raised against Jonathan Walters. Indirect free kick taken by Wayne Hennessey.13:43
Sylvan Ebanks-Blake takes a shot. Save made by Asmir Begovic.9:50
Matthew Jarvis decides to take the corner short, Effort from just outside the area by Stephen Ward goes over the bar.7:58
The ball is sent over by Matthew Jarvis, clearance by Ryan Shawcross.6:22
Jonathan Walters takes a shot.5:29
Glenn Whelan gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Ronald Zubar. Wayne Hennessey takes the direct free kick.4:42
Free kick awarded for a foul by Marc Wilson on Michael Kightly. Direct free kick taken by Michael Kightly.0:54
Matthew Etherington takes a corner.0:00
The match begins.
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