Asked if these two teams would be vying for a spot in the Premier League come next spring, the Wolves manager, Mick McCarthy, said: "Not if you have to score goals to go there."
His comments were born of a desperate afternoon in which his team failed to unlock tough opponents who, like themselves, were in the top four at the start of the day and have promotion aspirations. The goals McCarthy needs to repeat last season's surge to the play-offs will, he hopes, come from Freddy Eastwood, his £1.5m summer purchase from Southend United.
It was a difficult afternoon for Eastwood, who has scored four goals so far. "We outplayed them and were a little bit unlucky not to score," he said. "We want to get in the play-offs this season. We have a very good squad. One of the main reasons I came to Wolves was the chance to play in the Premiership."
The 23-year-old, who was released by West Ham in his youth, knows he could soon be making a welcome return to the Boleyn Ground. He said: "I still get on with [West Ham defender] Anton Ferdinand and a few of the other lads there when I go back occasionally to watch them play, when they sort me out tickets. Hopefully, I can let them know later on in the season that I may see them soon."
Eastwood's every move was carefully monitored by a solid Stoke defence which had the captain, Dominic Matteo, the former Liverpool and Leeds defender, in a deep-lying midfield role in front of it.
The bulk of the chances fell to Stoke, with Liam Lawrence and Richard Cresswell coming close. Eastwood, however, always looked a threat and two minutes after the break he lashed a shot from the edge of the area just wide of goal. It did not get much better for him as both teams settled for the point.Reuse content