Town 1-1 Wolves
Saturday, 3rd Dec 2005 19:47
A controversial Matt Richards penalty on the hour took the Blues to a home draw with Wolves. The game had been goalless at half-time but Colin Cameron put the visitors ahead with a wildly deflected 30-yard effort six minutes after the break.
Town lined-up in a 4-3-3 formation with Nicky Forster up front between Darren Currie on the left and Dean Bowditch on the right, although the latter pair switched over at various times during the game.
Gavin Williams, Jim Magilton and Jimmy Juan made up the midfield three with Matt Richards moving to left-back in the absence of Jay McEveley, whose loan has now been cancelled, and the suspended Fabian Wilnis.
Town were close to opening the scoring in the fifth minute when Darren Currie's freekick from the right whipped across the box and flashed wide of the post, Richard Naylor coming close to making contact.
Another Currie freekick went wide three minutes later as Town made a bright start. On 11, Currie volleyed a deep Jimmy Juan cross from the right, keeper Stefan Postma pushing the ball round the post. The resultant corner was eventually cleared to Juan, Postma saving his low edge of the area strike.
On 14 Gavin Williams was harshly booked by the very fussy Mr Stroud for kicking the ball away. The loanee from West Ham hardly had time to react to Stroud's whistle before playing the ball, but the decision was typical of another poor refereeing display and showed why the official has amassed a ridiculous 79 yellow cards in his 17 games this season.
A Jimmy Juan cross almost deflected in off a Wolves defender in the 17th minute but Postma reacted sharply to save. Wolves gradually started to take over and began to dominate possession with Korean right winger Ki-Hyeon Seol once again impressing against Town.
Chances were rare at either end, although it took a last ditch Richard Naylor challenge to stop Tom Huddlestone in his tracks after a break down the Town right, Matt Richards often left under pressure due to the lack of a midfielder ahead of him, particularly during a spell with Gavin Williams off the field requiring treatment to a head wound.
Lewis Price saved Huddlestone's 20-yard sidefooted effort as the game moved into injury time in which Town came closest to scoring when Sito ended a period of Town pressure by shooting across the face of goal.
It had been an even half with both sides enjoying periods on top, the Blues perhaps having had the better of the few chances.
However, six minutes into the second half, the visitors went in front. Colin Cameron hit a speculative shot from 30 yards which struck Jason De Vos's foot, looped over Lewis Price and under the bar.
On 53 Joe Royle decided to make changes, Adam Proudlock replacing Dean Bowditch and Kevin Horlock taking over from Jim Magilton. Town quickly got back on top and a period of pressure and a series of corners ended when Nicky Forster hit a shot on the turn which went narrowly wide.
But the equaliser didn't take too much longer. Forster broke into the box on the left and cut inside, Gabor Gyepes appearing to take the ball from the Town striker as he slid in and sent him to the ground. However, much to the chagrin of the Wolves defence, referee Stroud felt it was a foul and awarded a surprising penalty.
The official may have thought Gyepes's tackle was from behind but that didn't appear to be the case and for once this season the Blues could count themselves fortunate. Matt Richards took the kick, hitting a powerful left-foot shot which Postma got his right hand to but couldn't prevent from going in.
The contentious nature of the penalty was reflected by the North Stand singing "1-1 to the referee" as the Blues went looking for a second goal. In the 64th minute Williams was unlucky to see his 25-yard shot deflect through to Postma.
On 71 Kevin Horlock was yellow-carded for a foul and might have been lucky not to receive a second when sending a Wolves player flying shortly afterwards, although it appeared he had slipped.
Half-time sub Leon Clarke shot into the sidenetting when well-placed after Town had failed to clear a throw on the left which had been sent into the area. Soon after, another sub, former England man Darren Anderton, sent the ball wide after a goalmouth scramble, the visitors by now well in the ascendancy but with the Blues looking dangerous on the break.
Anderton put another good chance across the face of goal as the game entered the final five minutes, then Seol missed a sitter, the ball bobbling through a crowd of players inside the Town area to the far post but the South Korean shot over from a matter of feet.
With three minutes left Scott Barron made his league debut as a replacement for Darren Currie as Town sought to tighten up with Wolves finishing the stronger side.
A draw was probably a fair result with both goals fortunate in one way or another. Cameron's strike wouldn't have troubled Price but for the deflection, while few amongst the Town support felt the penalty was the correct decision.
Certainly a better performance than against Reading in the previous home game and at times the Blues played some decent stuff, but Wolves did enough warrant their point and could well have won it in the closing stages. However, fans are likely to go into next week's home game with QPR with a bit more confidence than they have many of this season's Portman Road fixtures.
Town: Price, Sito, Richards, Naylor, De Vos, Magilton (Horlock 53), Williams, Juan, Forster, Bowditch (Proudlock 53), Currie (Barron 87). Subs: Clarke, Supple. Att: 23,563.
Photo: Action Images
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