Collins leaves Doncaster on a downer

Doncaster Rovers 0 Wolverhampton Wanderers 1
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The Independent Football

Wolverhampton Wanderers fans know too much to feel comfortable even with a seven-point lead at the top of the table, but this side seems to have worked out what it takes to win matches in the Championship. After two-and-a-half years in charge, Mick McCarthy must believe that a return to the Premier League is in his sights.

Not that he is about to break with habit by making rash promises, even after Neill Collins gave them a 10th win in 12 with his header, 10 minutes from the end.

"Seven points clear? It's better than being seven points off the bottom," McCarthy said. "If you want me to say that it's a great position, then I'll say it. But there are 22 games to go.

"It is a fantastic result against a side who have conceded fewer goals than us at home. It might be one of the best wins of the season because Doncaster did not allow us to play to our potential. They are well organised and well coached, it is in games like this that you have to find a way of winning, even if it is not the prettiest way."

Doncaster's disappointment at taking nothing says much about how, in a highly competitive division, even teams divided by the length of the table are not far apart in ability.

Sean O'Driscoll's team, whose spirited and highly entertaining football stubbornly refuses to translate into results, dominated for long periods, particularly in the first half. O'Driscoll said: "We deserved something from the game and I am beyond frustrated. I have been disappointed and frustrated for a long time."

Wolves, the division's most potent side away from home with 24 goals in 12 games, found themselves on the backfoot as Brian Stock and Richie Wellens pulled the strings in midfield. Doncaster could count themselves unlucky not to have taken the lead after 26 minutes when a wonderfully precise through pass by Wellens sent Paul Heffernan sprinting towards the edge of the Wolves box to unleash a powerful shot. However, Wayne Hennessy – a giant figure in thevisitors' goal – somehow diverted it against the bar.

When the Doncaster goal came under bombardment six minutes before half-time, when Andy Keogh hit the woodwork twice, Richard Stearman's follow-up was saved by Neil Sullivan and Sam Hird blocked on the line from Stephen Ward during the same pin-ball scramble, it broke the pattern of play.

Yet McCarthy's side do not lead the table by accident and as Doncaster's legs began to tire, the balance of the contest began to shift their way and when a goal at last came it was Wolves who scored it.

Doncaster conceded a free kick on the left and when Michael Kightly lifted the ball into the box, Sullivan failed to intervene and Collins, with a brave header, propelled it home.