Ebanks-Blake strike keeps the chasing pack from Wolves' door

Wolves 1 Birmingham City 1
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The Independent Football

For the second time this season, Wolverhampton Wanderers found the task of registering a club record-equalling eighth successive League victory a step too far.

The draw they salvaged from a predictably competitive derby left them marginally more satisfied, though, than it did Birmingham City, who could have passed on this evidence for the side sitting six points clear at the top.

Birmingham were the dominant force in the first half and the one with their noses in front from the 48th minute when Cameron Jerome, a half-time replacement for an exhausted Kevin Phillips, struck his fifth goal in seven meetings with these opponents.

But, from being on the ropes, Wolves rallied strongly to level through Sylvan Ebanks-Blake 16 minutes from time and threaten a late winner.

"We recovered well from their goal and ended up the stronger side," said the Wolves manager Mick McCarthy. "We deserved our equaliser. At the end of it, we know they're a good side, as they know we're a good side."

McCarthy's counterpart Alex McLeish argued a more compelling case for meriting the extra two points, fortified as he was by his side's greater goal threat. "That's the best we've played away from home so I'm disappointed we didn't get three points," he said. "You say before an away derby game 'as long as we don't lose' but I've got mixed feelings."

After Liam Ridgewell had deflected Stephen Ward's long throw against his own post, James McFadden began his match-long torment of Wolves' defence with a through ball from which Marcus Bent lobbed Wayne Hennessey, only to be denied by Richard Stearman's goalline clearance.

Birmingham's impressive performance was all the more creditable for the fact they lost Seb Larsson before kick-off to a family illness.

Wolves, too easily contained before the break, must have feared the worst when Stearman failed to deal with Mehdi Nafti's long through ball, leaving Jerome to display his blistering pace and finish with a right-foot shot that the defender deflected in.

Jerome then set up McFadden for a shot that flew narrowly wide and generally wreaked havoc on the break.

As Wolves found their second wind, though, the assurance of Lee Carsley and Nigel Quashie was finally questioned, Karl Henry seeing a shot deflected wide before Michael Kightly set up Ward for a cross that Ebanks-Blake sidefooted home for his 12th goal of the season.

The substitute Sam Vokes went closest to winning it for Wolves as Maik Taylor dived to save.

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