The League Cup has rarely been a competition to engage Wolverhampton Wanderers beyond the early stages but a comfortable if low-key victory over First Division Burnley last night sustained their interest in this year's Carling-sponsored version.
A goal in each half, from Kenny Miller and Jody Craddock, was enough to have the measure of Stan Ternent's attractive if ultimately lightweight side, putting Wolves in the fourth-round draw for only the second time since they won the competition in 1980.
Having risen to the giddy heights of 15th place on account of a four-match unbeaten run in the Premiership, the Wolves manager, Dave Jones, felt able to rest the striker Nathan Blake and midfielders Alex Rae and Colin Cameron, and give Denis Irwin time to nurse a thigh strain, even though he had professed to wanting the momentum of last Saturday's dramatic comeback win against Leicester to be maintained.
On a wet night in a depopulated stadium, that was always going to be a tall order. Paul Ince, who would not have appreciated the conditions after suffering a cold since the weekend, had an early effort cleared off the line by Tony Grant, but it was Burnley who seemed more excited by the occasion.
They were close to taking the lead spectacularly after 17 minutes. Dean West's cross from the right was nodded back across goal by Delroy Facey, then Michael Oakes had to react quickly to palm away a well executed overhead kick by Ian Moore. Facey himself went close twice before half-time.
There was a neatness about Burnley's football that has become their recognised style under Ternent, who would have been pleased by their early prominence, not least after losing his on-loan winger, Luke Chadwick, to a toe injury. He had to recall Glen Little from a loan spell at Bolton but was still able to find only four fit players to occupy the subs' bench.
The breakthrough came three minutes after the break. Henri Camara, whose pacy runs along the left flank were a feature of the second half, delivered a low cross, Steffen Iversen's dummy leaving an unmarked Miller to score his first goal of the season. After becoming a father on Monday, the Scot had double cause for celebration.
Craddock might have made it 2-0 had he not snatched at a chance. It was almost made to be a costly miss when Facey's run along the inside-left channel set up Blake but Oakes saved with his legs.
Burnley, building patiently, sensed they might force extra-time. But a second Wolves goal with nine minutes left, a header by Craddock after Camara forced a corner, put paid to that.
Wolverhampton (4-4-2): Oakes; Luzhny, Craddock, Butler, Naylor; Silas, Ince (Rae, h-t), Gudjonsson, H Camara; Miller, Iversen (Clarke, 80). Substitutes not used: N Blake, Okoronkwo, Ikeme.
Burnley (4-4-2): Jensen; West (Roche, 62), Branch, Gnohere, M Camara; Little, Grant, Chaplow (Farrelly, 62), I Moore; Facey, R Blake. Substitutes not used: O'Neill, Pilkington.
Referee: C Foy (Merseyside).Reuse content