McGhee made to wait for his revival

Football: Wolverhampton Wanderers 2 Portsmouth 2
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The Independent Online
JAMES REED

Wolverhampton Wanderers 2 Portsmouth 2

As Mark McGhee left the icy Molineux bench and traipsed to the changing room, his sodden and shivering Wolves players followed him knowing their new manager was not a happy man. An hour later McGhee finally emerged. "I have told them straight," he said.

On Saturday, Wolves squandered a two-goal lead and denied McGhee his first victory in three games in charge of the Black Country club. Wolves were up from a typical Bull goal after five minutes and an impressive header from Don Goodman in the 35th minute increased the lead. During the half-time break a blizzard struck, the pitch turned white - and 20 minutes later the score was 2-2 and Wolves were left to run in the snow.

Pompey were never spectacular but their steady resistance in defence and their work rate in midfield blocked everything Wolves mustered during a dreadful start to the second half. Jimmy Carter struck with a 30-yard shot in the 58th minute, then Deon Burton touched home an equaliser in the 65th minute. After the goals, the weather took control.

"Our midfield didn't work hard enough and the rest of the team watched," McGhee said. "We are about to enter a busy period and it might be good for me to work with the players, but some are not quite match fit."

McGhee's schedule starts at Birmingham today in the League, continues at Birmingham on Saturday in the FA Cup, moves to Villa for the Coca-Cola Cup on 10 January and ends up at their local rivals, West Bromwich, in the League on 13 January.

During the final stages of Saturday's game Steve Bull, the Tipton boy and Wolves captain, regularly tried to instigate gallops by the substitute Mark Rankine and the fading Goodman, but the thin blue and weary Pompey back line held. Several times during the last minutes McGhee was up from his perspex haven, his hand waving desperate instructions as the snow fell on his head.

McGhee must have wondered what his boys have to do to sustain their entertaining play, but his gestures of despair during the final minutes were simply too late. The damage had been done early in the second half with the departure of the partially-fit Vinny Samways, one of McGhee's hopes, for Rankine and the arrival from the other bench of Pompey's Fitzroy Simpson for John Durnin. The midfield thrust shifted and the visitors took the initiative: the goals soon followed.

Wolves are now fifth from bottom but McGhee is talking about a play-off spot. If Bull and Goodman, who have whacked eight and 14 goals respectively this season, stay fit the revival, with enhanced team fitness, is just possible.

Goals: Bull (5) 1-0; Goodman (35) 2-0; Carter (58) 2-1; Burton (65) 2-2.

Wolverhampton Wanderers (4-4-2) Stowell; Venus, Thompson, Atkins, Emblen, Richards, Daley (Ferguson 65), Goodman, Bull, Osborne, Samways (Rankine 51). Substitute not used: Young.

Portsmouth (4-4-2) Knight, Pethick, Stimson, McLoughlin, Whitbread, Butters, Burton (Igoe 84). Allen, Durnin (Simpson, 50), Hall, Carter. Substitute not used: Russell.

Referee: A Butler (Sutton-in-Ashfield).

Bookings: Wolves: Daley, Bull, Atkins.

Man of the match: Bull.

Attendance: 25,291.

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