Sylvan Ebanks-Blake has clearly not convinced Mick McCarthy that he is a Premier League striker but the Wolves manager would find it hard to deny that he owes a favour or two to the former Plymouth front man.
The 24-year-old started only 12 Premier League matches last season and scored only twice – the previous year he had hit 25 as Wolves won promotion from the Championship. Yet if McCarthy were to nominate one player to get him out of a hole in his battle for top-flight survival, he would surely choose the man who got him there.
Ebanks-Blake came off the bench to score a late equaliser against Blackburn in April, effectively clinching safety for Wolves. On Saturday, when defeat would have left McCarthy clinging to his job, the same player made another dramatic late entrance with 10 minutes to go, striking his fourth goal of the season with a minute left as McCarthy celebrated victory for only the second time in 13 matches.
Yet it is unlikely to persuade McCarthy that Kevin Doyle should not be first choice as his sole striker, even though he has scored only once this season. "Yes, I'd have picked Sylvan [in that situation] as he's as good a finisher as we've got," McCarthy said. "I know the question will be 'Why doesn't he start?' but if we play one up, Doyler is the best at it. That's why we have subs. They're not there warming their bottoms on those nice heated seats, they are there to change the game."
In fact, the tireless Doyle supplied Ebanks-Blake with the telling cross, although it took a superb finish to beat goalkeeper Craig Gordon. "When you're put on at that stage, it's to try to make an impact and win the game," Ebanks-Blake said. "It's a squad game and you support the team and do as much as you can to contribute."
Scorers: Wolves Foley 50, Hunt 81, Ebanks-Blake 89. Sunderland Bent 67, Welbeck 77.
Substitutes: Wolves Ebanks-Blake (Mancienne, 80). Unused Hahnemann (gk), Van Damme, Hunt, Davis, Fletcher, Bent. Sunderland Malbranque (Henderson, 55), Gyan (Zenden, 55), Al-Muhammadi (Mensah, 83). Unused Mignolet (gk), Angeleri, Da Silva, Riveros.
Booked: Wolves Elokobi, Ward. Sunderland Richardson, Mensah, Cattermole.
Man of the match Jarvis. Match rating 8/10.
Possession Wolves 50% Sunderland 50%.
Shots on target Wolves 8 Sunderland 6.
Referee M Jones (Chester). Att 25,112.Reuse content