Ebanks-Blake finally gets off mark to ensure justice is done

Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 Aston Villa 1

Having enjoyed their best start to a season for 10 years you might have expected Aston Villa to feel disappointed at not making even more emphatic progress after conceding an equaliser with seven minutes remaining yesterday. However, Sylvan Ebanks-Blake's penalty, his first goal of the campaign, was no less than Wolves deserved after the home side dominated lengthy periods of a hard-fought West Midlands derby.

Villa were on a high after taking seven points from matches against Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea in recent weeks, but they were on the back foot for most of the first half and never looked on top of their game, although they made a marked improvement in the last quarter. Instead, it was Wolves who took the eye, even if they failed to sustain their early excellence.

The outcome, moreover, could have been very different had Peter Walton, the referee, not missed what looked a certain penalty in the third minute when Richard Dunne pulled back Kevin Doyle. As Mick McCarthy, the Wolves manager, pointed out, it was not the first time this season his team have been denied an apparently clear-cut penalty. McCarthy, nevertheless, could feel proud of Wolves' display given their recent record against Villa, who have won seven and drawn one of the last eight League meetings between the clubs.

There was a pleasing balance to the Wolves team, particularly when going forward. Karl Henry and Segundo Castillo formed a powerful engine-room in midfield, while Michael Kightly, a lively box of tricks, provided excellent support for Ebanks-Blake (right) and Doyle, who were always a handful for the Villa defence.

Wolves had plenty of chances to make their first-half domination count. Christophe Berra and Ebanks-Blake headed wide from crosses by Henry and Kightly respectively, Doyle's close-range effort was cleared off the line by James Milner and Ebanks-Blake sent an overhead kick over the bar from five yards after finding space at a corner.

The home team's football in a rain-swept first half was as bright as the sunshine that greeted the teams at the start of the second, but as the match progressed Wolves went into their shell. Gabriel Agbonlahor had wasted Villa's only notable chance of the first half, shooting tamely at Wayne Hennessey in the first minute, but Martin O'Neill's team improved after the break as Ashley Young at last got into the game. The match, however, appeared to be petering out into a goalless stalemate until bursting into life in the last quarter of an hour.

Steve Sidwell, who had struggled to get a grip in midfield, saw a goalbound effort blocked by a colleague, Dunne before Villa scored after a flowing move that saw Young, Agbonlahor and Milner free Emile Heskey on the right of the penalty area. Heskey's cross found Agbonlahor, who turned Jody Craddock all too easily to score his sixth goal in eight games.

Wolves were level within four minutes after Sidwell brought down Kightly, who had latched on to a clever backheel by Nenad Milijas. Ebanks-Blake, who scored 37 goals for Wolves in the previous two seasons, gleefully drove the penalty into the top of the net.

O'Neill admitted his team had not played well in the early stages but said he had been expecting a difficult match. "I am disappointed," he said. "There was not a great deal of football played in the first half. I thought we improved significantly in the second. Having played so well in the last couple of games, having gone into this game with loads of confidence, and wanting to impose ourselves quickly, we didn't do that and that was the disappointment."

McCarthy was satisfied with a point. "When you go a goal down, teams often shut up shop," he said. "They didn't and we had chances. It was Villa who were hanging on at the end."

Attendance: 28,734

Referee: Peter Walton

Man of the match: Henry

Match rating: 5/10

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas