Lucky strike from Cort earns rare win for Wolves

Wolverhampton W 2 - Crystal Palace 1
Click to follow
The Independent Football

Just as last season's draw specialists seemed set to start this with a second successive deadlock, they got lucky six minutes from the end. Carl Cort's header to a deep cross by Jackie McNamara appeared to be covered until it struck the defender Darren Ward and wrong-footed the Palace goalkeeper, Gabor Kiraly.

It was perseverance rather than finesse that saw Wolves to a 20th successive League game without defeat and equalled an 82-year-old club record.

Wolves flattered to deceive with the high quality they displayed in taking a fourth-minute lead. Palace were unhinged by a superb short-passing move featuring McNamara, Mark Kennedy and Rohan Ricketts before Cort's low centre was turned in at the far post by Ki-Hyeon Seol.

Apart from a powerful Ricketts 25-yarder that Kiraly pulled down, though, almost all of the follow-up came from Palace.

The Wolves manager, Glenn Hoddle, had warned that the Londoners would be stung by their surprise opening-day defeat and his words rang true as two Ben Watson free-kicks - the latter after Rob Styles' lamentable failure to play the advantage rule in Jobi McAnuff's favour - caused Michael Oakes to scramble. Tom Soares blazed over from 12 yards when set up by McAnuff and Jon Macken, then Andy Johnson was denied only by a full-length save from Oakes.

Wolves had lost their way against distinctly sprightly opponents and yielded an overdue equaliser three minutes before half-time.

There was little on when McAnuff seized possession 20 yards out but the man signed from Cardiff this summer to replace Wayne Routledge struck a superb low angled drive beyond Oakes. Hoddle had chosen to rest his captain, Paul Ince, and there was a ragged look to the side in his absence.

Cort fired off-target for the second time and McAnuff did likewise at the other end, with Johnson narrowly unable to turn the intended shot into a decisive pass. And Wolves needn't have relied on luck had Kenny Miller's shot not hit the outside of the post.

Wolverhampton Wanderers (4-3-3): Oakes; McNamara, Craddock (Edwards, 63), Lescott, Naylor; Olofinjana, Ricketts, Kennedy; Seol (Clarke, 63), Cort, Miller. Substitutes not used: Ikeme (gk), Ndah, Cameron.

Crystal Palace (4-4-2): Kiraly; Boyce, Ward, Hall, Borrowdale (Hudson, 90); Soares (Kolkka, 86), Watson, Leigertwood (Andrews, 86), McAnuff; Johnson, Macken. Substitutes not used: Speroni (gk), Butterfield.

Referee: R Styles (Hampshire).