Football: Keane's edge rejuvenates Wolves attack

Wolverhampton Wanderers 3 Birmingham City 1

AFTER ALL the millions invested in vain by Wolves, two young home- grown talents pointed the way to a brighter future yesterday by scoring the late goals that dashed Birmingham's hopes of going third in the First Division and enhanced Colin Lee's prospects of landing the Molineux manager's job.

Birmingham, who had won 3-1 at West Bromwich on their previous trip to the Black Country a fortnight earlier, could not have envisaged being on the receiving end of the same scoreline when they entered the final 18 minutes leading by Paul Furlong's goal. But then came an equaliser by Lee Naylor, 18, before Carl Robinson, 22, struck twice to lift Wolves into fifth place.

However, the catalyst for their third victory in Lee's four-match unbeaten run since succeeding Mark McGhee in a caretaker capacity was another 18- year-old, Robbie Keane. The Irishman was making only his second appearance as substitute following a six-week injury lay-off, yet his pace and persistence gradually undermined the assurances that looked likely to bring Birmingham a sixth away win.

Afterwards, Lee called for Wolves to end the uncertainty over the managerial vacancy. "It would help everyone if the situation was resolved quickly."

Birmingham had been well worth their interval lead. Making much better use of the flanks than Wolves, they also carried a greater threat up front and went ahead when the two elements came together midway through the first half.

Gary Rowett's low cross found Wolves' defenders neglecting the most elementary of marking duties. Furlong, materialising by the penalty spot, snaked out his left leg to collect his third goal of the season. With Ndlovu showing no signs of fatigue after returning from a family funeral in Zimbabwe, Birmingham must have been confident of adding to their advantage.

Mike Stowell, the home goalkeeper, saved well from Ndlovu's long-range effort and excelled again by touching Rowett's curling free-kick on to the post. Wolves, lightweight in midfield and with all their presence concentrated in the back three, had only an off-target drive by Robinson and two optimistic penalty appeals to show for their first-half endeavours.

The tactical change by Lee that saw Keane's introduction as a third striker immediately transformed the contest. Instantly clattered by Michael Johnson, who was cautioned, he would have equalised on the hour but for Kevin Poole's reflex save from a point-blank header, while his sheer ebullience lifted crowd and colleagues alike. Wolves duly drew level after 72 minutes. Keith Curle's long pass found Naylor breaking in the inside-left channel. The teenager skipped over challenges by Jon McCarthy and Darren Purse before stabbing his first goal of the season.

Rowett and Chris Marsden missed chances to regain the initiative for Birmingham before Keane set up Wolves' second goal 11 minutes from time. His cushioned pass under pressure was met by a fierce, swirling shot by Robinson from 20 yards. In stoppage time, the Welshman put the outcome beyond doubt by capping a lightning counter-attack with a marvellous volley from an identical distance.

Goals: Furlong (21), 0-1; Naylor (72) 1-1; Robinson (79) 2-1; Robinson (90) 3-1.

Wolverhampton Wanderers (3-5-2): Stowell; Richards, Curle, Sedgley; Muscat, Robinson, Osborn, Corica (Keane, 50), Naylor; Whittingham, Connolly. Substitutes not used: Niestroj, Emblen.

Birmingham City (4-4-2): Poole; Rowett, Purse, Johnson, Charlton (Forster, 78); McCarthy, Holland, Marsden, Hughes (Grainger, 54); Furlong, Ndlovu. Substitute not used: Ablett.

Referee: Heilbron (Co Durham).

Bookings: Birmingham Purse, Marsden, Johnson. Man of the match: Keane.

Attendance: 23,037.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Portfolio Administrator

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company has become known a...

Recruitment Genius: Mechanical and Electrical Engineer - Midlands

£35000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of refrig...

Recruitment Genius: Sales / Account Manager

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales / Account Manager is re...

Ashdown Group: Application Developer - C#.Net, ASP.Net - Cambridgeshire

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Software Application Developer (C# & ASP.Net, SQL S...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot