Wolves thrive on spirited fightback
Newcastle United 2 Wolverhampton Wanderers 2: Connor's reign starts with unlikely point after Jarvis and Doyle strikes strip victory from Newcastle
"Out of darkness," read the orange and black banner, high up in the gods with the visiting Wolves fans; notable for the unerring accuracy in its reading of proceedings yesterday for their football club.
It also stood out for its lack of the Newcastle owner's sports store colouring (red, white and blue), which is plastered all over St James' Park. Fans took a coffin from the Strawberry Pub to the ground yesterday, at the end of a week in which the original name was taken down. Renaming and rebranding do not beat history in these parts at least.
Out of darkness also stood for the intrinsic belief so integral to football fans, that it will be all right. Somehow.
Somehow, for at least half an hour in what remains of a potentially disintegrating season for a proud, old football club – we are talking about Wolves again – it was. When they trailed by two goals after 18 minutes it was hard to feel sympathy. Dreadful management (at the top of the club) and a "tail on the donkey" policy to find Mick McCarthy's successor. Treat your football club with such disdain and this is what happens. It felt justified. Not for the 1,500 Wolves fans, scrambling for some light, who never faltered in their support for their side all afternoon, but certainly for Steve Morgan, tucked away in the Newcastle directors' box with a gaggle of employees and friends.
Who knows where Terry Connor's name figured on his hastily put together wish list when McCarthy was sacked, but inside the top six of candidates would probably have been generous.
Still, he inspired a deserved draw from nothing. By 18 minutes the game appeared finished. There was good fortune to Newcastle's first in that Wayne Hennessey did particularly well to stop an initial shot from Demba Ba. The danger, however, was not cleared, and Cheick Tioté then saw his shot deflected into the path of Papiss Cissé, who stuck out a left foot to open the scoring.
Twelve minutes later, the finish was far more emphatic. Again, a defensive clearance was weak and misplaced, falling to the right foot of Jonas Gutierrez, who, with his first touch, placed the ball into a position from where he could crash a 25-yard rising drive past Hennessey.
At that point Wolves could have folded, but they didn't. As Alan Pardew admitted afterwards, the scoreline was still harsh at half-time. Kevin Doyle had spurned two chances but Newcastle had not heeded any warning. Wolves came out of the darkness after the break. Five minutes had gone when Matt Jarvis shot from the angle of the Newcastle penalty area and the deflection off Danny Simpson was enough to beat Tim Krul.
Wolves had their momentum and by the 66th minute, they had a point. A right wing free-kick from Jamie O'Hara caused chaos in a defence that conceded five on its last outing, and when the ball fell to Doyle, this time he swept a right foot shot into the home goal. Wolves had made a point. Wolves had made their point.
"I know what the lads have been through after losing 5-1 against West Brom," said Connor. "They took their fair share of stick but stuck together all week. They wanted to respond and they were magnificent.
"We have a habit of shooting ourselves in the foot but it was a real credit to the lads that they were able to stick with it and come out like they did in the second half."
That second half must be forgotten by Pardew and his men ahead of next weekend's Tyne-Wear derby.
"When you're 2-0 up at home you've got to win, simple as that," said Pardew. "We said at half-time that it wasn't over. They were two poor goals, we should have done a lot better. We will be better set for next weekend." They will need to be.
Newcastle (4-4-2): Krul; Simpson, Williamson, Coloccini, Santon; R Taylor (Guthrie 68), Cabaye, Tioté (Ameobi 81), Gutierrez; Ba, Cissé (Ben Arfa 66).
Wolves (4-4-1-1): Hennessey; Zubar, Stearman, Berra, Ward; Foley (Milijas 90), Edwards, Henry, Jarvis (Hunt 86); O'Hara (Kightly 71); Doyle.
Referee Peter Walton.
Man of the match Doyle (Wolves).
Match rating 6/10.
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