No longer is it only the Championship’s top three clubs who are falling over themselves in the race for promotion. Cardiff City, fortunate not to be three goals down after half an hour, exposed Wolverhampton Wanderers’ frayed nerves by leading them with nine minutes to go yesterday, only for their third-choice debutant goalkeeper Dimi Konstantopoulos to then throw away a win that was theirs for the taking.
The 30-year-old Greek (pictured) caught the most hopeful and towering of left-wing centres by Wolves’ substitute Kyel Reid and promptly dropped it over the line, his frantic efforts at redemption foiled by the assistant referee’s signal of a goal.
It was an equaliser fashioned by one on-loan player and gifted by another, and one Cardiff had not looked like yielding as they grew increasingly authoritative around the defensive rock of Roger Johnson.
“Dimi’s probably going to get pelted but the cross took a wicked deflection off Kevin McNaughton and he lost it in the lights,” said City manager, Dave Jones. “The lads are a bit down and he’s more down than anybody. But he has to pick himself up now to face QPR on Wednesday.”
Jones recognises better than most Molineux’s current anxieties. His three and a half years there included the only Premier League season Wolves have had despite fortunes lavished on them by Sir Jack Hayward and now Steve Morgan – and patience levels are as low as ever.
Cardiff, unbeaten in 12 League matches, responded well to being outplayed during Wolves’ super-charged return to action following a training break in La Manga. After superb work by Michael Kightly, the excellent Sylvan Ebanks-Blake stretched to head in Matt Jarvis’s 11th-minute centre for his 21st goal of the season and, with Andy Keogh hitting the post and then blazing over a gaping target, Wolves might soon have been out of sight.
Michael Chopra slid in a surprise equaliser, though, from a pull-back on the right by Paul Parry, who provided the corner from which Johnson headed home early in the second half.
Wolves, whose poor run now reads one win from 10 Championship games, threatened little by way of a comeback and Parry fired into the side netting at 2-1 with only Wayne Hennessey to beat. “Maybe we’ve had a bit of luck here in the end but we were terrific in the first half and it was an improved performance overall,” said their manager Mick McCarthy.
Goals: Ebanks-Blake (10) 1-0; Chopra (30) 1-1; Johnson (48) 1-2; Konstantopoulos og (81) 2-2.
Wolverhampton Wanderers (4-4-2): Hennessey; Foley, Craddock, Berra, Ward (Stearman, 80); Kightly, Henry, Edwards, Jarvis (Reid, 76); Ebanks-Blake, Keogh (Vokes, 76). Substitutes not used: Higgs (gk), Iwelumo.
Cardiff City (4-4-2): Konstantopoulos; McNaughton (Comminges, 90), Johnson, Gyepes, Kennedy; Parry, Rae, Ledley, McCormack (Whittingham, 85); Chopra, Bothroyd (Burke, 32). Substitutes not used: Owusu-Abeye, Scimeca.
Referee: D Deadman (Cambridgeshire).
Booked: Wolverhampton Berra.
Man of the match: Ebanks-Blake.
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