Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 Crystal Palace 3

More missed chances, some uncharacteristically lax defending, jeers from the stands and another league match without a win.

Welcome to the latest instalment of the weird and - fast becoming - not so wonderful season in the life of Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Only six weeks after a win against Preston North End took them to within striking distance of the Championship summit, Wolves' campaign has unravelled to such an alarming extent that they will head to Scunthorpe on Saturday in grave danger of dropping into the division's bottom half.

As a result the natives are growing increasingly restless. But this defeat was in no way as resounding as the scoreline suggests and, indeed, once again illustrated the wafer-thin dividing line that is between Championship success and failure.

Had £1.5million debutant Sylvan Ebanks-Blake not failed to head Karl Henry's 25th-minute cross and Stephen Ward not then headed the difficult chance wide, things could have been so different.

Within 60 seconds former Birmingham City striker Clinton Morrison had been granted the freedom of the Wolves' penalty area to volley the opener and the whole dynamic of the game was transformed. Palace, now 14 league matches unbeaten, added a second shortly after half-time when Morrison's shot was inadvertently diverted into the path of Sean Scannell.

And then came the boos.

First for a misplaced pass by Henry, then when manager Mick McCarthy decided to withdraw Ebanks-Blake, revealing later that he believed the striker was "knackered" after travelling up and down the motorway to seal his move from Plymouth.

In McCarthy's defence, the substitutions produced a much-needed spark as new arrivals Andy Keogh and Freddy Eastwood went close to scoring.

But one mighty wield of Jamie Scowcroft's right boot soon put paid to any comeback hopes as his stunning 66th-minute volley was arrowed into the top corner.

There were even ripples of applause among a Molineux fanbase who by now were jeering Jay Bothroyd, and when the striker - who had carried Wolves' chief threat - blazed over from close range on 80 minutes the game was summed up in an instant.

McCarthy's summing-up was as straight-talking as ever. "A bitter pill to swallow," he said. "It certainly wasn't a 0-3 performance particularly with the number of chances we had and we had the best one before they scored. That's what seems to happen when you don't get the rub of the green, maybe if we were then Stephen's header just slides inside the post instead of just past it."

It is eight matches without success in the Championship for Wolves, enough to have any manager jumpy not least amid a growing tide of restlessness from supporters.

McCarthy has been here before, and is happy to dodge the brickbats, but is more concerned about the effect that criticism will have on his players.

"I'm big enough and ugly enough to put up with any reaction but it doesn't help the players," he said. "The guy who seemed to be getting the aggro - Jay Bothroyd - has ended up putting three or four great balls across and yet he's not getting the support he requires.

"It's always easier to play when you're getting cheered but it's up to us to get the fans back on side by performances and winning games.

"Everything was all rosy for a time after I came here 18 months ago, and now it's not.  It's something that's just got to be fought through.

"We've got to keep going, keep scrapping and keep believing that what we've done in the past is still right." n Watford lost 1-0 at lowly Preston after Neil Mellor's 75th-minute goal gave Alan Irvine's side a deserved win. Former leaders Watford have dropped out of the automatic promotion places into third.

Scorers : Morrison (24), Scannell (49), Scowcroft (66).
WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS (4-4-2): Hennessey; Foley, D Ward, Collins, Gray; Henry, Potter, Gibson (Jarvis 43), S Ward (Eastwood, 53); Ebanks-Blake (Keogh, 53), Bothroyd. Subs: Ikeme, Edwards.
CRYSTAL PALACE (4-3-3): Speroni; Halls, Lawrence, Hudson, Hill (Hills, 64); Soares, Derry (Moses, 84), Watson; Scannell (Grabban, 63), Scowcroft, Morrison. Subs: Fletcher, Freedman.
Referee: Howard Webb (Rotherham).
Attendance: 22, 650.