WOLVES 1 QUEENS PARK RANGERS 0
Self-confessed “grumpy old sod” Mick McCarthy admitted he was “beaming from the inside” as his young Wolverhampton Wanderers secured promotion to top flight football thanks to goal-hero Sylvan Ebanks-Blake.
The Coca-Cola Championship’s top marksman’s 25th goal of the season was enough to secure a 1-0 Wolves’ victory over QPR and spark incredible scenes of celebration at Molineux as 25,000 fans swarmed onto the pitch to salute their heroes at the final whistle.
Earning promotion was the culmination of McCarthy’s three-year-plan since taking over the reigns of the sleeping giant in 2006 and the Wolves’ boss later admitted the euphoria had not yet sunk in.
The Yorkshireman said: “I am beaming on the inside and I am absolutely thrilled by our achievements.
“I am very proud of the players and they have been brilliant all season but I don’t think it has sunk in.
“I am just enjoying the moment.”
McCarthy’s pride in his young team – smattered with gems unearthed from the lower leagues – certainly extended to Ebanks-Blake who chosen a vital moment to score his 25th of the season.
The striker’s goal in the first minute of the second half ensured Wolves win over a valiant QPR side.
Rangers, battling to impress whoever takes over from caretaker boss Gareth Ainsworth, were suitably bullish opponents perhaps sensing from the pomp and ceremony as the teams ran out that they could spoilt the Molineux party.
Wolves had Ebanks-Blake, back from a hamstring injury, in for Sam Vokes while Stephen Ward replaced Matt Hill at left-back.
But they soon found goalkeeper Radek Cerny equal to everything they threw at him in the first half.
Wolves have used set pieces to their advantage in recent games but wasted corner after corner as Dave Jones tried to find someone to meet his aerial crosses to no avail.
Kevin Foley then hit a long range shot just over the bar before Cerny denied Dave Edwards a certain opener.
Former Birmingham City striker Rowan Vine then almost did his former club a favour only to see his deflected shot rebound off the woodwork as Wayne Hennessy now found his goalmouth the busier for a spell.
But whatever Mick McCarthy said in his half-time pep talk certainly paid off as Ebanks-Blake found himself on the end of good work by Andy Keogh who carved a path in front of QPR defender Damien Stewart to set up the Wolves hot-shot.
Ebanks-Blake doesn’t miss from five yards and duly obliged to spark the carnival scenes in the stands.
Marlon Harewood entered the fray with half an hour to go but could not extend Wolves lead as news came in that Birmingham were 1-0 at Watford and denying the trophy to the Black Country for at least another week.
Wolves were up however and as the players bolted to the tunnel – Molineux’s green turf became a black and gold baize.
Scorer: Ebanks-Blake (46).
WOLVES (4-4-2): Hennessey, Foley, Craddock, Berra, Ward (Stearman, 80) Jarvis, Henry, Jones (Vokes, 65), Edwards, Ebanks-Blake (Harewood, 60) Keogh. Substitutes: Higgs, Reid.
QPR (4-4-2): Cerny, Ramage, Stewart, Gorkss, Connolly, Routledge, Mahon, Lopez (Leigertwood, 89), Cook (Ephrain, 63), Vine (Taarbat, 63), Helguson. Substitutes: Delaney, Miller.
Referee: John Moss (West Yorks).
Booking: QPR – Lopez (foul).