Football: Mutch provides punch

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The Independent Online
Wolverhampton Wanderers. . .1

Newcastle United . . . . . .0

THERE was little sign at Molineux of the buccaneering away form that has taken Newcastle United to the threshold of the Premier League.

Seeking a 12th away win to break a 56-year-old club record and edge them closer to the First Division championship that has been their destiny all season, Newcastle never looked like achieving it.

The question was whether Wolves, without the injured Steve Bull, could find the punch that would deprive Newcastle of all three points. After Wolves had a Robbie Dennison effort disallowed for a marginaloffside in a profoundly forgettable first half, they got the goal they needed nine minutes after the break, Andy Mutch meeting Mark Rankine's low cross at the far post to side- foot home after Rankine had been released by Bull's replacement, Andy Thompson.

That improved a dull game immeasurably. Mutch went close on no less than five further occasions - although it sometimes seemed that he was looking around for Bull in order to lay the ball off - and Rankine headed just over the bar.

Newcastle were also awakened from their first-half torpor. Andy Cole, whose six goals in five games since signing for Newcastle made him the subject of some local trepidation, had already produced one sprint that resulted in a shot over the bar from a narrowing angle.

After Wolves' goal, David Kelly had the ball in the net from Mark Robinson's cross only to be pulled up for an obvious handball.

Robinson and Robert Lee had shots saved by a suddenly busy Mike Stowell and a cross from Cole went across the six-yard box without a decisive touch. Lee was foiled again in the last minute, but Newcastle had not done enough to deserve a draw, let alone a record-breaking win.

Wolves: M Stowell; D Simkin (L Madden, 70 min), M Venus, K Downing, D Mountfield, P Blades, M Rankine, P Cook, A Thompson, A Mutch, R Dennison. Sub not used: M Burke. Manager: G Turner.

Newcastle: P Srnicek; B Vennison, J Beresford, P Bracewell, S Howey, K Scott, R Lee, A Cole, D Kelly, (B Kilcline, 80 min) L Clark, S Sellars

(M Robinson, 66 min) Manager: K Keegan.

Referee: G Pooley (Hertfordshire).

Goal: Mutch (1-0, 54 min).