Football: Taylor misses out

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The Independent Online
Wolverhampton. . .1

Sunderland. . . . 1

GRAHAM TAYLOR'S long shot - taking Wolves into the Premiership via the play-offs - became a non-runner at Molineux last night when Wolves failed to build on Steve Bull's first goal of 1994.

The Tipton Terror raised Wolves' hopes in the 31st minute with his 14th goal of an injury-ravaged campaign. But Don Goodman promptly equalised for Sunderland, whose sense of adventure belied their mid-table position, condemning Taylor's new team to a sixth season in the First Division.

At the start, the best Wolves could hope for was the San Marino scenario in which Taylor found himself last November. On this occasion, however, Wolves could not fulfil their half of the deal, while results at Barnsley and Leicester underlined the problem of relying on others; echoes of Poland's failure to derail the Dutch.

Wolves did come desperately close, Sunderland's Michael Gray clearing off the line from both David Kelly and Paul Birch during a frantic final 10 minutes in which even the home goalkeeper, Mike Stowell, joined his attack. But in the final analysis, Wolves were simply not good enough.

They had gone ahead with a characteristic Bull goal, lashed into the roof of the net from 18 yards following Paul Cook's defence-splitting pass from his own half. That brought the Black Country folk hero level with Goodman, but only for five minutes as the Sunderland striker exploited a lapse by Paul Blades before beating Stowell.

Taylor, who took over with Wolves 15th, bemoaned their inconsistency, although he felt luck had been against them. Next season, when only one club will go up automatically, it is going to be even harder.

Wolverhampton Wanderers (4-4-2): Stowell; Rankine, Blades, Shirtliff, Thompson; Birch, Bennett, Cook, Keen; Bull, Whittingham (Kelly, 73). Substitutes not used: D Burke, Jones (gk).

Sunderland (4-4-2): Norman; Kubicki, Ball, Melville, Michael Gray; Russell, Atkinson, Ferguson, Armstrong (Martin Gray, 24); P Gray, Goodman. Substitutes not used: Ord, Chamberlain (gk).

Referee: J Lloyd (Wrexham).