Needing three points and at least three goals to go top, Sunderland had to settle for one of each at Molineux last night. They soon led through Stephen Elliott but Wolverhampton Wanderers immediately hit back and returned to 1-1 mode after launching the Glenn Hoddle era with five such stalemates.
It was not the week's best live televised game by any stretch of the imagination and Wolves will be more hurt by the outcome. They need victories quickly and often to bridge the gap to the play-off places. Only occasionally after a bright first half-hour, though, did they threaten one.
"It's a move sideways,'' Hoddle said. "We weren't brave enough on the ball and, when chances came, we didn't hit the target often enough.'' His counterpart, Mick McCarthy, reflected: "I'll take a point and be happy with it.''
No Championship side have more away League wins this season than Sunderland, who must nevertheless have surprised even themselves by going ahead in their first attack in the 12th minute. Elliott received a short pass from Jeff Whitley, cut in and superbly drove left-footed beyond Michael Oakes in the Wolves goal from fully 25 yards.
It was the former Manchester City reserve's 13th goal of the season but was levelled within 60 seconds by another forward in prolific form.
Lee Naylor's left-wing cross brought an ill-judged rush off his line by Thomas Myhre that left the South Korean Seol Ki-hyeon to head into an empty net. There was certainly no need for Sunderland's fit-again central defenders, Stephen Caldwell and the captain Gary Breen, to berate themselves over the playmaker's fourth goal in seven matches. The goalkeeper was totally to blame - and he lambasted himself amply.
There was no doubting the entertainment value as Kenny Miller (twice) and Joleon Lescott produced near misses which were followed by a well-saved effort from George McCartney at the other end.
However, an uneven surface began to drag both sides down, even if openings still materialised. Only a terrific tip-away by Oakes prevented Carl Robinson marking his Molineux return with a goal early in the second half. Dean Whitehead also hammered inches wide from substitute Michael Bridges' centre. For Wolves, Miller's wasteful evening continued with a wayward shot and Paul Ince followed suit from 20 yards.
Wolverhampton Wanderers (4-1-2-1-2): Oakes; Clyde, Craddock, Lescott, Naylor; Ince; Olofinjana (Cameron, h-t), Kennedy (Newton, 72); Seol; Miller, Cort. Substitutes not used: Ikeme (gk), Andrews, Clarke.
Sunderland (4-4-2): Myhre; Wright, Breen, Caldwell, McCartney; Whitehead, Whitley, Robinson, Arca (Danny Collins, 90); Elliott (Bridges, 76), Stewart (Brown, 76). Substitutes not used: Alnwick (gk), Thornton.
Referee: P Joslin (Nottinghamshire).Reuse content