|Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 v 2 Ipswich Town|
Saturday, 29th December 2012 Kick-off 15:00
Wolves 0-2 Town
Saturday, 29th Dec 2012 16:58
Mick McCarthy’s return to Molineux ended in victory as a goal in each half from Aaron Cresswell and DJ Campbell saw the Blues to a comfortable 2-0 win over their manager’s old club Wolves. Cresswell netted the opener in the 33rd minute with Campbell slotting home his 10th of the season on 64.
McCarthy named an unchanged side for the fifth game in succession as he returned to Molineux for the first time since being sacked by Wolves in February.
With the morning’s heavy rain continuing to pour, McCarthy was warmly applauded by his former fans as he made his way from the tunnel to the dug-out. The Blues boss and assistant Terry Connor were also greeted by various club staff prior to kick-off.
The home side claimed a penalty in only the second minute when Kevin Doyle got in behind Luke Chambers on the left of the area and crashed to the very sodden turf. If there was contact between the two – and referee Darren Drysdale perhaps fortunately for Town felt there wasn’t – then it should have been a spotkick.
The Blues almost went in front moments later as the Wolves backline failed to clear as Lee Martin and then DJ Campbell tried to find space for a strike at goal from just inside the box. Eventually, the midfielder curled a shot just beyond Carl Ikeme’s left post.
Guirane N’Daw and Wolves midfielder David Davis clashed on a couple of occasions within the opening minutes and exchanged views at length, the latter lucky not to be booked for the second of two fouls.
On 10 Martin received a return pass from Campbell five yards outside the area which he smashed goalwards. Keeper Ikeme stopped it but was far from in control of the ball and was a touch fortunate that it came to a halt in the soaked goalmouth by his feet.
A minute later, Town keeper Henderson rather more competently dealt with Bakary Sako’s low 30-yard freekick from the right.
With the rain falling even harder, the home side were having most of the ball by the 20-minute mark but without creating anything of note with the Blues defending resolutely. However, on 23, Sako hit a low shot two or three yards wide of Henderson’s left post.
The French winger, a former team-mate of Guirane N’Daw at St Etienne, screwed wide after a poor Chambers clearance from a corner on 28, then three minutes later Henderson claimed a Sylvan Ebanks-Blake pass over the top ahead of Bjorn Sigurdarson.
Wolves were still enjoying the vast share of the possession but all too often the final ball was wayward, with the home crowd starting to become fractious.
Despite Wolves’ greater share of the ball, the Blues went in front in the 33rd minute. N'Daw played the ball in to Campbell’s feet and the striker laid it off to Aaron Cresswell, who struck a right-footed shot to Ikeme’s left and into the net.
The home fans’ boos rang around the ground as Roger Johnson almost gifted Daryl Murphy a chance with a fluffed header moments after the restart, the ex-Cardiff man recovering in time to clear.
Soon after, Campbell flicked a Carlos Edwards cross wide, then at the other end Sako struck a 25-yard freekick straight at the wall.
On 42 a clearly frustrated Ebanks-Blake picked up the game’s first yellow card for a late challenge on goalscorer Cresswell.
The home side spent the rest of the half giving the ball away cheaply, often in their own half, while Town probed for a second without finding a way through. At the half-time whistle, the home fans booed loudly.
Wolves had had much of the ball for large spells of the half but without ever really threatening to score – they’d failed to register a shot on target, although they could feel aggrieved regarding the early penalty decision.
Town had done everything needed to keep them at bay, then just as the crowd began to become frustrated, they scored Cresswell’s neatly worked third goal of the season.
The Blues started the second half brightly, N’Daw forcing Ikeme to tip over his 25-yard strike, then from the resultant corner Chambers shot wide. Campbell was booked for a foul on Wolves left-back Stephen Ward in the 49th minute.
With Wolves still to register a shot on target, the Blues were looking the more threatening side, Cresswell sending a dangerous ball across the six-yard box on 57 but with none of his team-mates having taken a gamble.
Sako weakly turned a cross from the right to Henderson 62, prompting ironic cheers from the home fans at their team’s first ‘attempt’ on goal. Soon after, Martin shot straight at Ikeme from 30 yards.
Town made it 2-0 in the 64th minute when a Chambers defensive header from a few yards inside the Blues half sent Campbell through on goal, the on-loan QPR man netting his 10th goal of his spell coolly and confidently.
The boos from the home fans grew ever louder with their rancour increasing when manager Ståle Solbakken made a triple change with Kevin Doyle’s exit in favour of Jermaine Pennant received particularly badly. Tongo Doumbia took over from David Davis and Jamie O'Hara from skipper Karl Henry. On 71 Nigel Reo-Coker replaced Drury in the middle of the Blues midfield.
As the game moved into its final 20 minutes, the home crowd seemed resigned to a second home defeat in a week, singing ‘Que sera sera, we're going to Shrewsbury’ in reference to their FA Cup opponents to the amusement of the Blues support up high in a corner of Molineux’s newest and biggest stand at the other end.
Martin was booked for a foul on Pennant in the 77th minute and from the freekick Johnson was unable to divert the ball towards goal at a stretch at the far post.
Campbell shot into Ikeme’s hands from an Edwards cross in the 79th minute with the game appearing won, the only noise the Town supporters’ singing up in their corner. Two minutes later, Michael Chopra replaced Campbell, who ‘scores when he wants’, according to the Blues fans as the change was made.
Town should have made it 3-0 in injury time when Reo-Coker broke forward and fed Chopra, who turned inside a defender and curled his shot wide.
Soon after, the whistle went to boos and chants of ‘what a load of rubbish’ from the home fans, who were more generous to McCarthy and Connor as they left the field, again warmly applauding their previous management team.
As at Charlton on Boxing Day it was another thoroughly solid and professional away performance from the Blues. They prevented Wolves from creating anything of note throughout the 90 minutes and took their chances when they came.
The win is Town’s first at Molineux since the 1991/92 promotion season and takes manager Mick McCarthy’s points total to 23 in 12 games and finally moves the Blues up from 20th to 19th, ahead of Birmingham, eight points from the relegation zone and, after Watford won 3-1 at Brighton in the evening game, 10 points from the play-off places.
Wolves: Ikeme, Foley, Berra, Johnson, Ward, Sigurdarson, Henry (O'Hara 66), Davis (Doumbia 66), Sako, Doyle (Pennant 66), Ebanks-Blake. Unused: De Vries, Stearman, Batth, Forde.
Town: Henderson, Orr, Chambers, Smith, Cresswell, Edwards, Drury (Reo-Coker 71), N'Daw, Martin, Campbell (Chopra 81), Murphy. Unused: Loach, Higginbotham, Hyam, Emmanuel-Thomas. Scotland. Referee: Darren Drysdale (Lincolnshire). Att: 28,595.
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