Football: Palace pour more misery on McGhee

Crystal Palace 3 Wolverhampton Wanderers 2
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The Independent Online
CRYSTAL PALACE showed they possess the battling qualities to complement a fluent style as they survived a bruising encounter with Wolves last night to win their fifth successive home game.

Mark McGhee's visitors, who led the First Division at the end of August, have now won just once in 11 games. But McGhee said: "There's no big panic because there are so many games to go... But we are desperately trying to find someone to play up front with Connolly."

The Palace manager, Terry Venables, was understandably far happier. He said: "We were outstanding on Saturday and we played well again tonight. But it won't always be like that and we have three difficult away games so we have got to concentrate hard because away from home we are not doing so well."

Palace's resurgence has coincided with Terry Venables' introduction of a new trio of Australians. The former Liverpool midfielder Nicky Rizzo, in particular, has impressed. His 30-yard screamer against Norwich City on Saturday set up Palace's fourth successive home victory and last night it was another of his swirling corners which invited Fan Zhiyi to head on from the near post. Craig Moore, an pounds 800,000 signing from Rangers whom Venables knows from the Australian national squad, prodded home a volley from inside the six-yard box.

Palace deserved the lead. Matt Jansen almost celebrated his 21st birthday with another goal, looping wide a volley from 20 yards after Neil Emblen, formerly with Palace, could only partially head clear.

Rizzo was similarly unlucky when, anticipating Keith Curle's weakly struck clearance after 29 minutes, he curled a right-footed shot round Mike Stowell in the Wolves goal, but a foot wide.

The home side made their superiority count within seven minutes of the restart, though only after a moment which seemed to sum up Wolves' frustration. Kevin Muscat, enduring a frustrating night back at his old club, was adjudged to have tripped Svensson at the far post. Attilio Lombardo's spot-kick was firm enough but goalkeeper Mike Stowell read his intentions and dived to his right to palm the ball around the post.

Lombardo made little of his disappointment and swung over an accurate near-post corner which Sagi Burton met to head in his first goal for the club.

McGhee swiftly made changes, switching the formation. Steve Corica, one of five Australians on view, received a corner short and crossed for Steve Sedgley to head convincingly down and into the net.

A bad-tempered finale simmered close to boiling point with a series of cautions, and an injury to the Palace striker, Matt Svensson, who will have an X-ray today on his ankle. Seven minutes from time, the Palace substitute Sasa Curcic fired home a 20-yard free-kick. Not even Sedgley's second goal of the night, scrambled home three minutes later after Dominic Foley's header, could save Wolves.

Crystal Palace (4-4-2): Digby; Smith (Burton, 22), Fan, Moore, Sun; Lombardo, Foster, Mullins, Rizzo (Curcic, 73); Svensson (Morrison, 71), Jansen.

Wolverhampton Wanderers (4-4-2): Stowell; Muscat, Emblen (Naylor, 76), Curle, Sedgley, Gilkes; Corica, Robinson, Gomez (Foley, 57), Ferguson; Connolly. Substitute not used: Atkins.

Referee: A Butler (Sutton-in-Ashfield).