Sheffield United relinquished pole position in the Championship to Reading last night, but as Wolves' manager, Glenn Hoddle, noted with a sigh, his opposite number, Neil Warnock, punched the air when the final whistle signalled the end of an attritional stalemate.
Warnock's satisfaction stemmed from the fact that United, despite being without key men, not only preserved a 17-point advantage over Wolves but maintained their 10-point lead over third-placed Watford.
The United manager modestly identified his own tactical nous as the main factor in holding a side with promotion aspirations in front of their own crowd. "The lads did very well, but I'm really pleased with myself," he said. "I was spot on in predicting the way they would play."
Warnock added: "Wolves and Crystal Palace should be where Reading and ourselves are, so it's great credit to Steve Coppell and myself. People will say that we've been knocked off the top, but the title is never won or lost at this stage of the season. It's another cracking result for us."
Hoddle complained that United had come for a point. "That showed respect to us," he said, "but we didn't show the quality in the final third to unlock them." Of all the sides to visit Molineux, the former England coach added, United had troubled the Wolves goal least.
Warnock was without two defensive pillars in the injured David Unsworth and the suspended Chris Morgan. "It shows what a good squad we've got," he said of the display by their understudies. Certainly, United worked voraciously to deny space to Wolves.
Seol Ki-Hyeon, so dangerous in last Friday's demolition of Derby, was marked out of the match by Derek Geary, while Allan Wright proved that lack of height is no barrier to playing centre-back, especially alongside an accomplished player like Leigh Bromby.
Almost from the start, it looked as if it would take something special to end the deadlock. Vio Ganea had a goalbound effort blocked by Bromby in a deceptively bright start by Wolves, Tom Huddlestone, the midfielder Hoddle has taken on loan from Tottenham, twice sent in long-range shots, but neither troubled Paddy Kenny. In rare first-half breaks by United, Stefan Postma saved from Keith Gillespie and Geary, although the Dutchman could almost have sat in the South Bank after half-time.
With 22 minutes left, Huddlestone was involved in Wolves' best move, a five-man affair that culminated in Colin Cameron setting up Ganea. Many in the crowd acclaimed a goal, and indeed the Romanian's shot had hit the net. In keeping with Wolves' frustration, it was only the outside of the rigging that was ruffled.
Wolverhampton Wanderers (4-3-3): Postma; Edwards (Gyepes, 76 ), Craddock, Lescott, Naylor; Cameron (Anderton, 76), Huddlestone, Kennedy; Seol, Ndah (Clarke, 76), Ganea. Substitutes not used: Oakes (gk), Olofinjana.
Sheffield United (3-5-2): Kenny; Jagielka, Bromby, Wright; Gillespie, Montgomery, Quinn, Tonge, Geary; Webber, Shipperley (Pericard, 85). Substitutes not used: Ifill, Kabba, Nalis, Kozluk.
Referee: N Miller (Co Durham).Reuse content