FA Cup 3rd Round: Wolverhampton Wanderers 2 Cambridge United 1

Wolverhampton Wanderers and indeed Michael Kightly would vehemently protest at the merest hint that they are a one-man team.

Unfortunately, the evidence of this scrappy but ultimately satisfying success against non-League opposition suggested otherwise.

Until the 61st-minute arrival of Kightly, Wolves were a goal adrift, 29 minutes away from an eighth consecutive game without a win and, even more significantly, an embarrassing FA Cup exit at the hands of Blue Square Premier opposition which could have had grave implications.

Within eight minutes Kightly had equalised, then he both earned and delivered the free-kick, with two minutes remaining, from which Neill Collins headed home what Wolves will hope proves one of those footballing turning points with which to relaunch a stuttering season.

Of course, Mick McCarthy's charges are not a one-man band and as the manager admitted, there were enough chances created in the first half that it was only wastefulness and a rank bad refereeing decision that left Wolves' passage to the fourth round so reliant on Kightly's intervention.

Yet during the six-week absence of the influential winger through injury, Wolves went through a seven-game winless sequence so devoid of creativity that he is without doubt the conductor of the orchestra. "Of course. it's good to have Kites back," said manager McCarthy.

"I knew, just by having him on the bench, there'd be optimism and a good atmosphere and he showed his value by scoring one and setting up another, but we shouldn't have had to rely on him because we were as wasteful as anything in front of goal."

There were just 25 seconds on the clock when the first chance went begging, Jay Both-royd's shot blocked by Michael Morrison before both Matt Jarvis and Stephen Ward were denied by the reflexes of visiting goalkeeper Danny Potter.

It wasn't all one-way traffic and the lively Mark Convery had already been denied by Darren Ward's goalline clearance and then later a Wayne Hennessey save before being involved in the contentious 42nd-minute incident which raised both the Us hopes of an upset and the collective Molineux heart-rate.

Having intercepted Collins's poor pass, Convery darted to the touchline before his attempted cross then struck the Wolves defender at close range. Referee Kevin Friend pointed to the spot , despite a distinct lack of any sort of appeal and Scott Rendell gleefully accepted the invitation. "A brutal decision," raged McCarthy post-match and Collins insisted he ball hadn't even struck his hand.

But there was more to come from the referee; After Kightly had restored parity by driving home Jarvis's cross, he went down under a challenge from Mark Albrighton.

It was only at full-time, a few minutes after Collins had reduced Molineux and McCarthy's tension levels, that Friend rather helpfully informed several Cambridge players that he might have been conned in awarding the crucial free-kick. I'm not sure what part of the refereeing handbook contains the need for those sort of comments, and it certainly bemused McCarthy, who was at least able to express relief at Wolves' progress.

"I'd have been some tough cookie not to get concerned after going behind to a penalty that was never a penalty and then the nervy spell at the start of the second half," he said. "But all we could do was get to the next round, I know we won't get any credit or kudos. I'm pleased for the players, because they are not going to be involved in it being shown every year because they've lost to a team from non-League."