Rae's goal sees Lions thrown to the Wolves

Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 Millwall 0
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The Independent Football

Mark McGhee, making a Halloween return to Molineux three years after being sacked as manager on Bonfire Night, swallowed the disappointment of seeing his Millwall side beaten by Alex Rae's 90th-minute header to hail Wolves as "certainties" for promotion.

The home discomforts which had seen Wolves win only three of the previous 14 games before fans who are restless for the restoration of old-gold glories again threatened to blight their bid to open a lead in the First Division. But then Rae, the game's best player, converted Michael Branch's right-wing cross to end his former club's stubborn resistance and send Dave Jones' side three points clear.

Jones, who joked that the Rangers-supporting Rae "thinks he's Ally McCoist", praised his team's refusal to panic; they also beat Nottingham Forest with a stoppage-time goal recently.

"Millwall made it very difficult but we kept playing, even when the fans got edgy," the Wolves manager said. "We have been there before and know you have got to be patient."

McGhee, displaying a magnanimity which the home supporters did not extend to him or to another figure from the Midland club's recent history, his centre-forward Steve Claridge, said: "Wolves are certainties to go up. They will definitely be in the top three, and even if they have to enter the play-offs they have got enough to get out of this division.

"They are a high energy team, who are able to maintain pressure on other sides. They can sustain it for 90 minutes, so we could never afford to switch off."

For all Wolves' territorial dominance, one of the best chances prior to Rae's third goal since a £1m switch from Sunderland fell to Claridge with 15 minutes remaining.

Seizing on the loose ball when Paul Butler and Michael Oakes inexplicably left it to each other, the vilified veteran shot straight at the goalkeeper, who was promptly and embarrassingly admonished by Butler.

An early goal might have seen Wolves devour the Lions as they did Burnley on Sunday, but Tony Warner signalled his defiance by blocking Colin Cameron's fourth-minute shot.

The keeper also saved a Cameron drive superbly at full stretch, but Millwall also had their moments, Tim Cahill forcing an agile stop from Oakes after Rae conceded possession.

Wolves seemed to have lost their way until Rae, hardly noted for his aerial prowess, put the faithful in such a buoyant mood that they even roared approval for a West Bromwich Albion win.

Wolverhampton Wanderers (4-4-2): Oakes; Muscat, Butler, Lescott, Naylor; Newton, Rae, Cameron, Sinton (Proudlock, 57); Blake (Roussel, 72), Branch. Substitutes not used: Robinson, Connelly, Murray (gk).

Millwall (4-4-2): Warner; Green, Dyche, Nethercott, Ryan; Ifill, Cahill, Livermore, Bull (Kinet, 85); Claridge, Sadlier. Substitutes not used: Ward, Savarese, Hearn, Gueret (gk).

Referee: S Baines (Chesterfield).

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