Wolves repel Stoke’s long-throw fest

The share of the spoils in a match of little quality moved Mick

McCarthy’s side six points clear of the bottom three with four

games remaining – and they also have a superior goal difference.

Stoke had the best chances in the first half during which time Rory

Delap reeled off 14 long throws – and 24 in total – to cries of

‘boring, boring’ from the home fans. Centre-back Abdoulaye Faye

should have done better with some heading opportunities and Mamady

Sidibe wasted a clear-cut opening early in the second period. But

Wolves generally looked solid and their determination was typified

by centre-back Jody Craddock who was made skipper on his 500th

league appearance in place of the suspended Karl Henry. And during

the second 45 minutes, Wolves looked more threatening after

switching from a 4-5-1 to a 4-4-2 formation. A short back pass from

Wolves defender George Elokobi almost played keeper Marcus

Hahnemann into trouble but he came quickly off his line to clear

from the recalled Dean Whitehead. Stoke sent a series of early long

throws from Delap into the Wolves box and, from one of them, Faye

had a free header but sent his effort wide of the post. Most of the

early pressing came from the visitors and a back header from Robert

Huth flew straight at Hahnemann following another high up and under

ball into the box. Stoke continued to dominate possession and

Whitehead headed wide from Matthew Etherington’s centre. Faye

squandered another good chance to put Stoke in front after 23

minutes. Glenn Whelan hooked a loose ball back into the box and

Faye climbed above the home defence but directed his header wide

from close range. Stoke keeper Thomas Sorensen was well positioned

to cling on to a near post header from David Edwards from a Jones

centre in Wolves’ most dangerous moment of the opening 45 minutes.

Wolves were relieved again when a Huth header was blocked from a

Etherington corner. The chances continued to fall for Faye from the

Delap throws and the centre-back sent another header wide when well

placed 10 yards out. Sidibe wasted a good chance to put Stoke ahead

after 54 minutes. A cross from Higginbotham found Sidibe unmarked

just to the right of the Wolves goal but he sliced his shot wildly

over the bar. In a rare moment of danger for Stoke, Edwards brought

down a cross from Zubar but his shot flew straight at Sorensen.

McCarthy made his first change after 59 minutes with Chris Iwelumo

replacing Edwards to give extra support upfront for Kevin Doyle.

Then Pulis brought on Tuncay for Kitson and was quickly forced to

replace hamstring victim Sidibe with Liam Lawrence. Wolves started

to look more menacing and Sorensen gathered a powerful Zubar header

from a Craddock centre. But Whelan was only just too high with a 20

yard pile-driver before McCarthy brought on Nenad Milijas for Jones

with 11 minutes left. Jarvis did well to block a volley from

Higginbotham as Stoke searched for a late winner. The Wolves fans

had their hearts in their mouths when Whelan curled a 25 yarder

just wide. In injury-time Sorensen needed two attempts to keep out

a Milijas free-kick.