Wolves destroy hoodoo

Click to follow
Wolverhampton Wanderers 3 Manchester City 0

It was a question of which would prove the more destructive yesterday: Wolves' so-called home hoodoo or Manchester City's fabled capacity for self-destruction. City duly obliged their hosts, with Iwan Roberts the main beneficiary.

The gap-toothed striker scored twice before Robbie Dennison sealed Wolves' first win at Molineux for three months, but a toothless City afforded them every encouragement. To paraphrase David Niven's assessment of Errol Flynn, you can always rely on City to let you down.

Wolves, remarkably for a side who have already lost five times on their own patch, thus enter December standing sixth in the First Division, only two points behind second-placed Crystal Palace. City slipped to within one rung of the relegation zone after their 12th League defeat of a season which is not even at the half-way stage.

The outcome hinged heavily on events at the start of both halves. Barely 40 seconds into the game, Roberts collided heavily with Martyn Margetson as he pursued Steve Bull's flick-on. Following a four-minute delay, the City goalkeeper departed on a stretcher with a badly bruised and swollen knee.

Andy Dibble, dropped by Phil Neal after City lost to Oxford in the caretaker manager's first game in charge, held out until half-time. Within 45 seconds of the re-start, however, the substitute keeper erred to gift Wolves the goal which restored their confidence.

Even when Kit Symons miscued his clearance, City's goal was in no immediate danger. Dibble, perhaps believing it was a back-pass, took a wild kick at the ball but succeeded only in slicing it to Dennison on the right wing. Roberts headed in the resultant centre at the near post. "It was like being stabbed in the back with a knife," Neal said afterwards.

City had enjoyed an equal share of possession up to that point, although neither goal had come under serious pressure. They should have been level within five minutes, only for Uwe Rosler to head over from point-blank range after Georgi Kinkladze's exquisite pass had released Nicky Summerbee into a crossing position.

Two minutes later, with Simon Osborn beginning to orchestrate Wolves' attacks, clever interplay between Bull and Roberts gave the Welshman a shooting chance from 18 yards. This time Dibble parried bravely, but his compatriot followed up to fire his seventh goal of the season.

It was all too much for one of their followers, who ran on and mysteriously berated Nigel Clough, perhaps forgetting how the substitute's father once dealt with a similar incursion. But City were devoid of punch, literal or otherwise. Dennison's goal, curled beyond Dibble from 25 yards after he was allowed to advance unchallenged from the half-way line, confirmed their heaviest League defeat so far.

Amid reports that Colin Todd and Howard Wilkinson have each been offered the manager's job, Neal said: "I carry on until someone tells me to stop." His counterpart, Mark McGhee, hailed Wolves' performance as their most positive to date, while cautioning that two successive victories do not constitute a run. They would for City, who have yet to win back-to-back games.

Goals: Roberts (46) 1-0; Roberts (53) 2-0; Dennison (79) 3-0.

Wolverhampton Wanderers (3-5-2): Stowell; Emblen, Atkins, Venus; Thompson, Corica (Dowe, 90), Osborn, Thomas, Dennison; Bull, Roberts. Substitutes not used: Goodman, Smith.

Manchester City (4-4-1-1): Margetson (Dibble, 5); Crooks, Wassall, Symons, Brightwell; Summerbee, Lomas, Whitley, Kinkladze; Dickov (Clough, 70); Rosler. Substitute not used: McGoldrick.

Referee: T Heilbron (Co Durham).

Bookings: Wolves: Dennison.

Man of the match: Osborn.

Attendance: 23,911.