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?
News
peopleMathematician John Nash inspired the film Beautiful Mind
News
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Life and Style
Audrey Hepburn with Hubert De Givenchy, whose well-cut black tuxedo is a 'timeless look'
fashionIt may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
music
Life and Style
fashionFrom bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine