Football: Wolves hauled in by Dichio's dazzler

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The Independent Online
Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 Queen's Park Rangers 1

Something had to give at Molineux last night, and in the end both sides relinquished their 100 per cent records in the First Division. Wolves, whose deserved early advantage was secured by Simon Osborn's goal against the club he left last December, were pegged back to parity by Daniele Dichio's contribution to the season's clutch of spectacular long-range efforts.

In terms of support, Wolves' Premiership potential is not in doubt; the only empty seats were in the visitors' stand. The small matter of results has been the problem, to which end Mark McGhee's programme column complained that the squad he inherited from Graham Taylor were "short of both physical and mental strength, under-coached, and displayed practically no desire to try to appreciate tactics".

McGhee evidently reserves the right to mix the long ball into Wolves' more measured style. The sheer intensity of their game forced Rangers on to the back foot, and it was no surprise that the referee was forced to change the ball twice in the opening quarter of an hour.

The barrage began with Steve Corica's 25-yard drive against the crossbar in the second minute. Steve Bull, who had scored all four of Wolves' goals in their two opening victories, then muscled in on the act, bringing a desperate save from Jurgen Sommer and selflessly setting up chances for Andy Thompson and Corica before Rangers buckled midway through the first half.

Iwan Roberts, Bull's new partner, was fouled by Alan McDonald 25 yards out. Osborn's free-kick shook the underside of the bar before landing behind the line. Rangers' equaliser, four minutes from half-time, was a real bolt from the blue and white, Dichio's instinctive volley sailing over Mike Stowell from fully 35 yards.

Ironically, the goal had its origins in a free-kick awarded for a reciprocal foul by Roberts on McDonald. Their private duel, like that between Bull and Steve Yates, raged relentlessly. When the former Leicester striker climbed to meet Steve Froggatt's cross in the 50th minute, there was something inevitable about McDonald's headed clearance off the line.

Ray Wilkins, two weeks short of his 40th birthday, displayed characteristic vision and no little verve before departing the fray shortly after the hour. But for all his promptings, Rangers did not make a genuine opening until the 64th minute. Dichio's shot on the turn ought to have presented Stowell with a routine save, yet the keeper spilled the ball and was fortunate that Steve Slade did not react quickly enough to convert the rebound.

Wolves regained the initiative and almost the lead after hesitancy let in Roberts with 20 minutes remaining. McDonald, his nemesis on the night, again denied him a first goal in the old gold with an intervention that left the defender entangled in the net. McGhee's team knew the feeling.

Wolverhampton Wanderers (3-5-2) Stowell; Richards, Atkins, Venice; Smith, Osborn, Corica, Thompson, Froggatt; I Roberts, Bull. Substitutes not used: Ferguson, Romano, Crowe.

Queen's Park Rangers (4-4-2) Sommer; Jackson, Yates, McDonald, Brevett; Sinclair, Barker, Wilkins (Murray, 61), Impey; Dichio, Slade. Substitutes not used: Ready, T Roberts.

Referee: J Kirkby (Sheffield).