Miller strike helps Wolves to restore credibility

Wolverhampton Wanderers 2 Preston North End 2
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The Independent Football

With "Chaucer" emblazoned on their shirts, it was fitting that the story of how Wolverhampton Wanderers gained their opening point in the Championship last night was a Miller's tale.

With "Chaucer" emblazoned on their shirts, it was fitting that the story of how Wolverhampton Wanderers gained their opening point in the Championship last night was a Miller's tale.

Kenny Miller, Wolves' Scotland striker, could not have complained if he had been dismissed along with Preston North End's Nigerian midfielder, Dickson Etuhu, late in the first half when the visitors led 2-0.

However, Miller, whose lunge provoked Etuhu into retaliation, escaped with a caution and celebrated his reprieve with a stunning equaliser as Wolves struck twice in swift succession late in the game.

Until ­ and indeed after ­ that point, Preston's 20-year-old goalkeeper, Andy Lonergan, demonstrated why he is first choice for England Under-21s with a series of marvellously agile saves.

Craig Brown, the Preston manager, hailed Lonergan but declined to defend Etuhu. "That changed the course of the game," said the former Scotland coach. "We were comfortably in control. Miller's boot was high ­ it was a dangerous challenge ­ and I know it's hard to accept when you get kicked in the throat. But I was still very disappointed with Dickson's response. It was petulant rather than violent, but also crazy and unnecessary. If you're a man, you wait until the next tackle and make sure you go in firmly."

Dave Jones, Wolves' manager, agreed that the incident had transformed the match. "But in the end it was Preston who got out of jail because their keeper had to pull out some magnificent saves at the death," he said. "We were the only side who were going to win."

Preston had started as strongly as Wolves finished. They took a fourth-minute lead through Chris Lucketti's scrambled goal after Paul Jones, the Wolves keeper, twice flapped at crosses he should have caught and David Healy fired against an upright. Healy doubled the lead in the 16th minute, taking a short corner from Graham Alexander before angling a low shot past Paul Jones. Preston were cruising, but Etuhu, by raising his hands to Miller in the 36th minute, handed Wolves a lifeline.

They looked incapable of grasping it until the 76th minute when Leon Clarke, making his full debut, side-footed home. Four minutes later, amid mounting pressure, Seyi Olofinjana's surging run led to Miller taking possession and rounding a defender before bludgeoning a shot beyond Lonergan and into the net off the underside of the bar.

Wolverhampton Wanderers (4-4-2): Jones; Edwards, Bjorklund, Craddock, Clyde; Newton, Olofinjana, Ince, Kennedy; Clarke, Miller. Substitutes not used: Oakes (gk), Naylor, Cameron, Cooper, Andrews.

Preston North End (3-5-2): Lonergan; Mawene, Lucketti, Davis; Alexander, Etuhu, O'Neil, Skora, Lewis; Healy, Cresswell. Substitutes not used: Ward (gk). Smith, Daley. McCormack, Brown.

Referee: P Armstrong (Berkshire).

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