Wolverhampton W 0 Derby County 1: Wolves pay for missed penalty as Howard uses head

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The Independent Online

Wolverhampton Wanderers and Derby County were separated by 20 places at kick-off at Molineux last night - and by a Steve Howard header 90 minutes later. A surprise result on recent form, but just about deserved by a side who always threatened.

Howard's first goal since his £1m move from Luton Town was the first Wolves had conceded in the League in a month.

Mick McCarthy's evening was summed up when Jay Bothroyd, scorer of a stunning winner at Leeds on Sunday, had a penalty saved at 0-0 by former Molineux loanee Stephen Bywater. "I wish I could explain it," the manager said. "He scores from 27 yards and then misses from 12. I'm disappointed but proud because we kept going and the fans cheered us off at the end."

The Wolves substitute Rohan Ricketts struck a post in a late onslaught and had two efforts saved but the outcome hinged on Bothroyd's wastefulness after a 22nd-minute push on Seyi Olofinjana from Daniel Jones' corner.

Howard soon went close after Gary Breen's awful touch led to a deflected shot and an outstanding Matt Murray save. The keeper responded again with a brilliant diving tip-away from Morten Bisgaard's effort and denied Mo Camara late on with an athletic touch-over.

Derby have a real find in Arturo Lupoli, the teenage Italian forward they have signed on loan from Arsenal for the season. He alarmed Wolves every time he ran at them and was denied at full stretch by Jody Craddock and Murray in quick succession in the second half. He was also the architect of the 34th-minute winner, his trickery on the left being matched by a centre that Howard headed in at the near post.

"It was a tremendous performance and a tremendous win," said the Derby manager, Billy Davies. "It was probably the best we have played and I'm delighted Steve Howard has that monkey off his back."

Wolverhampton Wanderers (4-4-2): Murray; Edwards, Craddock, Breen, Little; Potter, Olofinjana, Henry, Jones (Ricketts, 58); Bothroyd (Cort, 58), Jemal Johnson. Substitutes not used: Ikeme (gk), Clarke, Mulgrew.

Derby County (4-4-2): Bywater; Edworthy, Leacock, Michael Johnson, Camara; Bisgaard, Oakley, Malcolm, Bolder; Howard, Lupoli. Substitutes not used: Peschisolido, Smith, Seth Johnson, Barnes, Nyatanga.

Referee: N Swarbrick (Lancashire).