In the end it was the South Yorkshireman who manages Wolves, the flu-ridden Mick McCarthy, rather than the Wolves fan in charge of Doncaster, Sean O'Driscoll, whose team secured a fourth-round home tie against Stoke in last night's replay. The Championship side were still in the game, trailing only to Steven Fletcher's early goal, until four goals in the final half-hour blew them away.
Doncaster's demise was a classic case of the perils of possession without penetration. Wolves, having been pushed back by their opponents' intricate moves, suddenly cut loose, as if intent on giving them a lesson in the harsh realities of football.
Geoffrey Mujangi Bia, the 21-year-old Belgian who hails originally from Kinshasa, made it 2-0 with his first goal for the Premier League club. Kevin Doyle and Matt Jarvis swiftly added to the haul, and in time added on, David Jones completed Wolves' biggest win since 2003.
The result was the perfect pick-me-up for McCarthy, who had been in bed with flu until three hours before kick-off. "I got a 24-hour bug which has lasted two weeks," he said, explaining what he termed his "miserable demeanour". He added: "It was a good, professional performance on the back of Saturday [the 4-3 defeat at Manchester City]. At 1-0 in the second half, there were chances at both ends, but we were the team that managed to get the second goal, which opened the game up completely."
O'Driscoll, whose Wolves-supporting family were out in force, said: "To say it was disappointing is an under-statement. We had the first chance and Billy [Sharp] is usually clinical but Marcus [Hahnemann] pulled off a good save. Then we just gave away bad goals. If you take the goals out of it, parts of the performance weren't bad. But we made it far too easy for them."
After the vibrant atmosphere at the Keepmoat Stadium, where the sides drew 2-2, Molineux had around 18,000 empty seats. The stay-aways must have anticipated McCarthy's team selection, which showed five changes from the line-up at Eastlands.
The South Bank was the more populated end and the Wolves fans huddled there had a goal to savour after five minutes, although not before Sharp had forced what McCarthy later called a "match-changing save" from Hahnemann. Wolves swept upfield, a slick move along the left flank culminating in a cross by Stephen Hunt which found Fletcher peeling off his marker to convert a glancing header for his sixth goal of the season.
Mujangi Bia, who is on long-term loan from Charleroi, kept shooting on sight as if he were on commission. When a good chance, in the 34th minute, ended up clearing Neil Sullivan's crossbar with something to spare, Hunt aimed a playful boot at his backside.
Wolves, collectively speaking, looked as if they needed something similar to stir them, the final stages of the opening half being played out in near silence. The decibel level finally went up when they ran in three goals in 13 minutes. First, Ronald Zubar played Doyle in on the left-wing overlap and Mujangi Bia arrived at the far post to finish the move.
Five minutes later, Doncaster's right side was breached again. Faced with James Chambers, Doyle switched the ball on to his right foot before angling his fifth goal this season into the far corner of Sullivan's net. Jarvis, on as a substitute, galloped on to Richard Stearman's pass before slotting the fourth beyond Sullivan. Adding insult to injury time, Jones's shot from Jarvis's corner found its way into the net through a congested area.
Wolverhampton Wanderers (4-4-2): Hahnemann; Mouyokolo, Craddock, Stearman, Zubar; Mujangi Bia, Jones, Henry, Hunt (Jarvis, 69); Doyle (Vokes, 78), Fletcher (Ward, 77). Substitutes not used Hennessey (gk), Berra, Milijas, Davis.
Doncaster Rovers (4-1-4-1): Sullivan; Chambers (Friend, 76), Hird, Lockwood, O'Connor; Wilson; Coppinger (Souza, 75), Oster, Shiels, Hayter; Sharp (Brooker, 82). Substitutes not used G Woods, M Woods, Fairhurst, Webster.
Man of the match Fletcher.
Match rating 6/10
Referee K Friend (Leicestershire).
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