Stoke City 1 Wolverhampton 1: Wolves lack bite amid takeover uncertainty

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The Independent Football

Mick McCarthy, the Wolverhampton Wanderers manager, was dismissive of the takeover talk surrounding the club following this drab stalemate at the Britannia Stadium. "It doesn't bother my arse one little bit," he shrugged, after his side failed to win against fellow play-off hopefuls Stoke City.

Even for someone as uninterested as McCarthy, however, it would have registered that the one potential buyer to make his bid public, the former Newcastle United manager Graeme Souness, who tabled a £20m offer to buy the club from Sir Jack Hayward last week, could be his replacement should events unfold unfavourably.

Neill Collins, the Wolves defender who put his side ahead, said of the rumours: "If Mick McCarthy keeps doing the job he is doing, it will take something daft to do that. I don't think he will be worried. We are obviously aware of [takeover talk]. We are just going to get on with it and if anything is to happen, it will benefit the club, otherwise Jack Hayward wouldn't do it."

A showcase for the talent in the Championship this game was not. For much of the contest the teams struggled to cope with the blustery conditions. The opening goal, when it came in the 63rd minute, did little to bring any life to this torrid affair. Collins rose highest to head Michael McIndoe's corner past Steve Simonsen in the Stoke goal. The game was desperately in need of a catalyst for some action. It never came.

Wolves sat on their lead, inviting pressure from their hosts. Stoke pushed forward and, five minutes from time, broke through when Clint Hill converted a free-kick from Liam Lawrence, after the Wolves defence failed to clear the danger.

Goals: Collins (63) 0-1; Hill (85) 1-1.

Stoke City (4-4-2) Simonsen; Hoefkens (Wilkinson, 72), Duberry, Higginbotham, Hill; Lawrence, Diao, Russell, Pericard (Sweeney 55; Rooney, 80); Sidibe, Fuller. Substitutes not used: Eustace, Brammer.

Wolverhampton Wanderers (4-4-1-1): Murray; Little, Breen, Collins, McNamara (Clapham, 46); Kightly, Henry, Potter, McIndoe (Edwards, 89); Olofinjana; C Davies. Substitutes not used: Oakes (gk), Johnson, M Davies.

Referee: P Walton (Northamptonshire).

Man of the match: Fuller.

Attendance: 15,882.

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