Curle on the spot to sate Wolves' hunger

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The Independent Football

By Geoff Brown

By Geoff Brown

24 October 1999

A FEW weeks ago the fans of Wolverhampton Wanderers were vociferously demonstrating for the resignation of managing director John Richards for his miserly administration. The seven-figure signings of striker Ade Akinbiyi and last week, the Swindon forward George Ndah, and three consecutive wins had placated them somewhat but their patience was tested again by yesterday's gritty Black Country derby with Port Vale.

In the end it took goals by two of Wolves' more defensively-minded players, Steve Sedgley and Keith Curle, to earn a 2-2 draw at Molineux, Curle's 89th-minute penalty depriving Vale of their first away First Division win of the season.

Sedgley had given Wolves the lead two minutes into the second half and they held firm until 10 minutes from then end. Then two goals in four minutes from Michael Walsh and Tony Rougier put Vale ahead until Curle's late spot-kick.

Ipswich Town, who ended a run of four games without a win by beating Charlton Athletic on Tuesday, continued their revitalised form with a 1-0 over Walsall at the Bescot Stadium. Richard Naylor grabbed the game's only goal in the final minute and the three points lifted the Suffolk side back up to second place. Charlton, who they replaced, were held to a goalless draw by West Bromwich Albion at The Valley.

Trevor Francis, the Birmingham City manager, was unsuccessful in persuading Marcelo, Sheffield United's Brazilian striker to join Brum, but his alternative - taking Christopher Wreh on loan from Arsenal - scored the equaliser against Grimsby Town at Blundell Park to earn a 1-1 draw.

In the 31st minute Bradley Allen put the Mariners ahead when he met Alan Pouton's cross at the near post. Three minutes later Wreh beat Pouton to Gary Rowett's cross and fired his shot low into a corner. Meanwhile, Marcelo's current club recovered from a two-goal deficit to draw 2-2 with the First Division's bottom club, Swindon Town, at the County Ground. Chris Hay, Swindon's former Celtic striker starting only because of Ndah's sale, took maximum advantage and put them two goals up inside 21 minutes.

After 11 minutes Sol Davis' low centre was nodded in by Hay from six yards for only his second goal in six months. His third 10 minutes later came as he met a long ball from Gareth Hall and turned past Shaun Murphy to score from 10 yards.

But after a chastening half-time talk by Adrian Heath, the Blades' manager, Sheffield clawed themsleves back into the game and Martin Smith's brace earned the draw.

It was a very similar story at at Selhurst Park, too, where Mathias Svensson and Dean Austin had given Crystal Palace a 2-0 half-time lead over Tranmere Rovers. But two goals in the final eight minutes from Gary Jones and Andy Parkinson confirmed Rovers' fight back.

This season's First Division dark horses, Stockport County, earned another useful away point at the City Ground where their 15th-minute lead, Laurent D'Jaffo beating Mark Crossley, the Nottingham Forest goalkeeper, to Sean Connelly's hopeful punt, lasted but a minute. Ian Wright's fifth goal for Forest, a header from Dougie Freedman's cross, levelled and it stayed 1-1.

Elsewhere Queens Park Rangers and Portsmouth drew 0-0 at Loftus Road while Barnsley's Craig Hignett punished his former club, Crewe, when he scored the only goal of their game at Gresty Road. It came on the stroke of half-time, as he collected the ball from Neil Shipperley and fired past Jason Kearton in the Crewe goal. The Tykes' goalkeeper, Kevin Miller, was sent off for serious foul play after 62 minutes but Crewe could not make the man advantage tell.

In the Second Division, Stoke City went second after beating Wrexham 2-0 but the Third Division leaders, Barnet, went down 2-1 at home to Torquay United, who are now third.

In Scotland, Aberdeen started their match against Kilmarnock at Pittodrie where they left off their previous game - an extraordinary 6-5 victory at Motherwell, their first Premier League win of the season - when Paul Bernard scored in the second minute. He scored again after Christophe Cocart had equalised but a second Killie goal, by Ally Mitchell four minutes from time, meant no second win-bonus of the week.