Doyle leads rescue as Wolves pull back from brink
Wolverhampton Wanderers 2 Swansea City 2
Perhaps it is a gauge of the depths in which Wolves found themselves that they celebrated drawing with a side who have not won away in the top division for almost 30 years. Whatever, Mick McCarthy wasn't complaining.
Indeed, something resembling a smile dared to spread across that grim Yorkshire countenance. Such relief on the Wolves manager's part seemed on the dubious outskirts of unlikely when sections of the Molineux crowd turned their back on their team as they trailed 2-0; or when they chanted, "You don't know what you're doing" when he brought on two substitutes; or indeed when they sang, "You're getting sacked in the morning" before they started to leave with 10 minutes remaining.
"None of that's for me to discuss, we'll deal with that another time," said McCarthy. "Let's just emphasise the positives. I'd like to think the half-time team talk helped, as did the lads who came on."
He could be forgiven for that. With six minutes to go Wolves were all but done. A side without confidence were on the brink of their sixth League loss in succession, their worst run in 20 years. Status: critical.
But then up stepped Kevin Doyle to tap in Michel Vorm's parry of a Sam Vokes effort and then, two minutes later, Doyle neatly set up Jamie O'Hara to equalise. Nenad Milijas, one of the controversial subs, might even have nicked it at the death, but his tame header was all too easily collected. That would have been too cruel on Swansea.
"It felt like a defeat," said Brendan Rodgers, before taking consolation in his team's first away point of the season. "I give credit to the players, because for 80 minutes we were outstanding. But we need to manage the game better."
Swansea were in control for long periods as Wolves, somewhat bafflingly, sat back and allowed the opponents' passing game its space. With Joe Allen looking yet more accomplished as the playmaker and Nathan Dyer in torrid mood down the right, Wolves seemed barely able to track their shadows.
The first goal arrived in the 23rd minute courtesy of a fine Mark Gower looping pass over Roger Johnson, which landed at Danny Graham's feet for him to slip the ball past Wayne Hennessey. And 12 minutes later, when Graham located Allen in the six-yard box with a perfectly weighted low cross, the Welshmen's long wait appeared over. It is 29 years and eight months since they beat Nottingham Forest at the City Ground in the old First Division. The jeers at the interval told their own story, and nothing much suggested a Wolves resurrection. Apart, that is, from Swansea's record over the border. Scott Sinclair might have put the game beyond doubt with two decent opportunities, but as the clock counted down the visitors' control turned to hesitancy.
Sensing Swansea's sudden anxiety, Wolves surged forward, and the game produced its dramatic flip-flop.
"From where we were in the game this is a massive point for us," said Doyle. "Everyone is high as a kite after being down in the dumps." Too high even to boo.
Wolverhampton (4-4-2): Hennessey; Stearman, Johnson, Berra, Ward; Hammill (Guedioura, 68), Henry, O'Hara, Jarvis (Milijas, 68); Ebanks-Blake (Vokes, 83), Doyle.
Swansea City (4-3-3): Vorm; Rangel, Monk, Williams, Taylor; Gower (Moras, 86), Britton (Orlandi, 74), Allen; Dyer (Routledge, 83), Graham, Sinclair.
Referee Michael Oliver.
Man of the match Allen (Swansea).
Match rating 6/10.
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