Southgate hopes points win will follow knockout

Wolves 1 Middlesbrough 2
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The Independent Football

Much as these clubs have in common with their greater need for league points, they clearly differ in how they think they can best stockpile them.

Wolverhampton Wanderers rested four regular first-team players in addition to having two others unavailable and found the disappointment of FA Cup elimination softened considerably by the Championship defeat suffered concurrently by Birmingham City.

Mick McCarthy has kept something back for tomorrow's game at Reading while his counterpart Gareth Southgate's relief at what managers call "a result" was dampened by missing out on his £2m prime transfer target Ben Watson before the resumption of Middlesbrough's survival fight at Chelsea on Wednesday.

Following 10 league games without a victory, Southgate decided his need for another one in the Cup was pressing, both to instil confidence in his players and ease the growing pressure on his shoulders.

Many neutrals viewed this as an accident-in-waiting but maybe those who came to bury him paid insufficient heed to his record with the club in the competition as a player and manager.

Two quarter-final appearances and a semi-final in the last three years is impressive and recent history shows it takes a good team to oust Middlesbrough. Any team to have KO'd them in the last four seasons has gone on to the final.

"Any win is important but, bearing in mind what has gone on, this certainly was," said Boro's central defender Chris Riggott. "I've not noticed any changes in the gaffer. It has been tough and pressurised, but we are behind him and we battled well."

Afonso Alves accepted the second of two one-on-one chances Wolves' new-look defence yielded deep in the first half and Marvin Emnes, a £3m summer "punt" from Sparta Rotterdam, stepped from the bench to drive in the late winner. In between, Sam Vokes equalised with a fine header and set up a surge in which Matt Jarvis should have scored seconds before Emnes did.

The Championship leaders have won only one of their last six matches in league and Cup, so it isn't only Middlesbrough who need points quickly.

Goals: Alves (44) 0-1; Vokes (63) 1-1; Emnes (83) 1-2.

Wolverhampton Wanderers (4-4-2): Hennessey; Edwards, Collins, Shackell, Hill; Jarvis (Ebanks-Blake, 81), Henry, Jones, Reid (Kightly, 64); Iwelumo (Keogh, 52), Vokes. Substitutes not used: Ikeme (gk), Foley, Craddock, Friend.

Middlesbrough (4-4-1-1): Jones; Bates, Riggott, Wheater, Taylor (McMahon, 7); A Johnson, O'Neil, Shawky (Hoyte, h-t), Downing; Tuncay; Alves (Emnes, 67). Substitutes not used: Turnbull (gk), Bennett, Porritt, Craddock.

Referee: R Styles (Hampshire).

Booked: Wolverhampton Jones; Middlesbrough O'Neil.

Man of the match: Downing.

Attendance: 18,013.

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