Football: Keen edge to Wolves

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The Independent Online
Wolverhampton Wanderers. . .2

Thompson (pen) 42, Keen 78

Crystal Palace . . . . . . .0

Attendance: 23,851

WOLVES share with Blackburn and Derby the good fortune to be bankrolled by a millionaire fan, and their ambitions are as lofty as any of the Premiership pretenders. Sir Jack Hayward, who spends most of his time in tax exile in the Caribbean, has invested close to pounds 20m of his personal wealth in his dream of bringing forgotten glory back to Molineux.

The largest part has been spent on a quite magnificent stadium, built at a cost of pounds 16m, alongside which an outlay of pounds 3.5m on players seems modest. It may be enough, however, to book their passage from an increasingly open First Division.

Yesterday, in gaining their fifth straight victory and beating Crystal Palace for the second time in eight days, they moved into seventh place, five points behind their opponents, who stay top in spite of a bleak new year in which they have so far lost all their three matches without scoring.

At no point did Palace even hint that they might gain the upper hand. Graham Turner, the Wolves manager, dropped two of his winning Cup side to include Darren Ferguson and Chris Marsden in midfield and these latest recruits, signed last week, made an impressive start.

'The safe option would have been to keep the same team, so I'm pleased with the way it has gone,' Turner said.

Marsden, who cost pounds 250,000 from Huddersfield, was named Man of the Match, though Kevin Keen, the former West Ham player acquired for pounds 800,000 last summer, played an equally influential role. A potent threat on the left flank throughout, Keen propelled the attack on 42 minutes in which Eric Young conceded a penalty. Wolves duly went ahead and Keen put his own name on the score sheet 12 minutes from the end, side-footing firmly home from 10 yards.

Young, whose body-check on Steve Bull enabled Andy Thompson to take his chance from the spot, might have gained the distinction of giving away two penalties in a minute. He tripped David Kelly from behind in Wolves' next attack but, in the referee's judgement, it was worth only a corner.

'It was a perfectly fair and reasonable result,' Palace's manager, Alan Smith, readily conceded before hinting that more transfers are likely to follow the arrival of Paul Stewart, who begins a month's loan from Liverpool tomorrow.

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