Wolverhampton Wanderers 2 Burnley 0
Wolves set about reiterating the principle of home advantage last night as they swept aside a limited Burnley team and registered their first win at Molineux for two months.
A goal in either half from Kenny Miller, his 17th of the season, and Wanderers? heartbeat Paul Ince ensured Glenn Hoddle?s men kept alive heir faint play-off dreams and leapfrogged their opponents in the process.
It wasn?t a vintage performance but one that will give credence to Hoddle?s belief that his team can scrape into the promotion picture if they can reproduce the sort of efficient attacking football that did for Burnley.
Both sides seemed nervous at the start but while Wolves seemed keen to overcome any lingering anxiety, the visitors came looking to contain rather than entertain.
For Hoddle, that is proof his team could finally be on the charge: ?We must be doing something right,? he said. ?People are coming here with five across midfield. It is only Sunderland who have come here and played their usual formation.
?Other people are coming here guarded, perhaps waiting for the crowd to turn on us, but we are working on that and last night we got the breakthrough.?
The result, combined with a squad that visiting manager Steve Cotterill described as ?enviable?, could send shockwaves around the Championship as Wolves moved to within seven points of Reading in sixth place.
For long periods of the first-half, it looked as though it was going to be another frustrating Molineux occasion, as the hosts stroked the ball around stylishly until either the underfoot conditions, or their own deficiencies, ensured it all came to nought.
But they were dominant territorially and might have gone ahead as early as the sixth minute, when Burnley conceded a free-kick in an innocuous position only for Lee Naylor to curl an ambitious 30-yard shot under Brian Jensen?s crossbar. The Dane did well to tip over.
Carl Cort was presented with a clear-cut chance, the sort that a top-level striker should devour, just after the half-hour ? but he wasted it.
Mark Kennedy drove the ball into the back post where, having eluded the massed defence in front of goal, Cort popped up with the simple task of turning the ball past Jensen. Instead, he side-footed embarrassingly into the goalkeeper?s arms.
However, he could claim a measure of redemption seven minutes before the break when Ince lofted a central free-kick into the visitors? box where the gangly striker rose and nodded towards Miller who held off his marker and hooked home.
If anyone at Molineux thought Wolverhampton had done enough to make the game safe (admittedly there aren?t many ?loyals? who make that mistake), then they were given an early warning at the start of the second half.
Jean Louis Valois produced his only notable contribution of the evening, spreading play wide to another Villa exile, Peter Whittingham, who hit a stinging shot that Michael Oakes failed to hold and required Joleon Lescott to hack to safety.
Even then the match settled into a familiar pattern as Wolves probed neatly but produced little of substance ? until the hour.
Ince has made his reputation as a midfield enforcer, but the 37-year-old showed the trickery of a rather more luxurious model when he ducked under a bouncing pass, tricking Micah Hyde in the process, and advanced on the Burnley goal. No-one expected what followed, least of all Jensen who stood in admiration as the former England captain thumped home from 25 yards.