Football: Turner feels the pinch

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The Independent Online
Wolverhampton Wanderers. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

Keen 18

West Bromwich Albion. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2

Taylor 35, Mardon 39

Attendance: 28,039

THE LAST time the Baggies did the double over the Old Gold was 12 years ago in the old First Division. As a result of a 3-2 win in September, and yesterday's victory in a feverish derby, it looks increasingly likely that they will both be in the new version next season.

Which is good news for Albion, who have won three of their last six games after eight without a victory. But for Wolves it means more frustration and more pressure on their manager, Graham Turner, despite an FA Cup fifth-round replay at Ipswich on Wednesday. This may only have been their third defeat in 22 league games but they have dropped down to ninth in that time.

'The only way we can make it up to our fans is to win the Cup replay and finish in the top six,' Turner said ruefully.

But the bigger picture has little relevance in an intensely felt and deeply parochial English derby. There were just over 28,000 crammed into the sumptuous new Molineux and 12 miles down the road another 5,000 watching on giant screens at The Hawthorns.

What they saw was Wolves labour to paper over the cracks caused by Steve Bull's extended absence with a knee injury while Albion took their chances and soaked up the pressure for the entire second half.

They had looked in danger of being swept aside when Kevin Keen shot Wolves ahead in the 19th minute after Bull's replacement, the old warhorse Cyrille Regis, flicked on a long throw.

But nine minutes before half-time, Bob Taylor coolly slid the ball under Mike Stowell for his 16th goal of the season and four minutes later the game was completely turned on its head.

Darren Bradley's free-kick was met by a thumping header from the centre-half, Paul Mardon, for the 24-year-old's first league goal. Taylor hit the side-netting and a post early in the second half but Wolves strove valiantly to claim an equaliser they deserved although they were hampered by the loss of Regis - protecting a thigh-strain - at half-time.

His replacement, Lee Mills, Robbie Dennison and David Kelly all missed reasonable openings, and until Wolves can bring in cover for Bull they are likely to remain a First Division team with a Premiership stadium.