Wayne Hennessey's emergence as a goalkeeper with the golden touch continued yesterday with a late penalty save in a compelling Black Country derby.
Five minutes remained when Neill Collins brought down Craig Beattie after being dispossessed by the West Bromwich Albion substitute in the area. Zoltan Gera's kick was hard and true, but Hennessey dived to his right to beat the shot away superbly. It was further confirmation that it is not only the Wales international's 6ft 7in frame that makes him a big star in the making.
His first nine games in club football – on loan with Stockport County last season – produced a Football League record of nine successive clean sheets and he did not concede in his first two matches for his country in May. Now he has yielded only 15 goals in 17 Championship matches. Wolves were also grateful yesterday for a magnificent, diving, fingertip save on to a post when Filipe Teixeira turned in a flash and shot from Carl Hoefkens' 55th-minute pass.
"That save was fabulous, but they were both vital," said the Wolves manager, Mick McCarthy. "Wayne has grown in stature since coming into the side, but the back four deserved a pat on the back because he didn't have that much to do. We've matched Albion for power and ability and I'm more pleased with the performance than the point."
McCarthy has tired of being reminded Wolves lost four of last season's five meetings of these neighbours. Maybe the difference here was the absence through injury of Kevin Phillips, whose header in the last game last season confirmed Albion's play-off place at Wembley.
The West Bromwich manager, Tony Mowbray, saw his other main striker, Ishmael Miller, limp away with a knee injury as the penalty was being taken by Gera. He will be out for several weeks.
"Zoltan is our fourth nominated penalty taker, but No 1 taker for Hungary, so you would hope he would put it away," Mowbray said. "I thought we did enough to win, but Wolves always had a threat."
Only Leicester City and the bottom three have scored fewer goals than fifth-placed Wolves, and Seyi Olofinjana's finishing showed why. The Nigerian midfielder sent a free header wide from eight yards following Michael Kightly's excellent cross in the first half and side-footed off target from similar range in the second. Jody Craddock headed against the post and Freddy Eastwood's angled drive was well blocked by Dean Kiely.
Albion's chances were less clear-cut. Their pressure peaked round the half-hour, without reward, then Paul Robinson and Beattie missed openings late on. This was their first scoreless draw in 73 games, but they still went back to second in the table.
West Bromwich Albion (4-4-1-1): Kiely; Hoefkens, Barnett, Cesar, Robinson; Teixeira (MacDonald, 76), Greening, Koren, Brunt (Beattie, 68); Gera; Miller (Bednar, 82). Substitutes not used: Steele (gk), Pele.
Wolverhampton Wanderers (4-5-1): Hennessey; Foley, D Ward, Craddock, Collins; Kightly (Eastwood, 60), Henry, Olofinjana, Gibson, S Ward; Bothroyd (Elliott, 62). Substitutes not used: Stack (gk), Potter, Gray.
Referee: C Foy (Merseyside).
Booked: West Bromwich Teixeira; Wolves Olofinjana.
Man of the match: Teixeira.
Attendance: 27,493.Reuse content