Ipswich Town 0 Wolves 2
Mick McCarthy has thankfully never had a reputation for being the most cliché-ridden of football managers.
In fact, in any decent compendium of footballing quotations, this blunt, big-hearted, brutally frank son of Barnsley is worth an entire chapter of his own. But when he trots out the old line that football is ‘all about taking your chances’ he knows from painful experience just what he is talking about.
Although delighted at the plaudits coming second-placed Wolves’ way after their exciting unbeaten start to the season, he is also quick to jump down anyone’s throat suggesting that they have not always tried to play the same way.
“Let’s correct this complete fallacy that we didn’t create chances last season,” snapped McCarthy after Saturday’s comparative stroll in the Suffolk sunshine. “Last year we created chances too. We just bloody missed them, that’s all.
“We didn’t have people to put them in the net. So far we have. We came here last season, played really well, missed a penalty and got slapped 3-0.
"Ipswich then went on to win ten here on the bounce at home. Now they’ve lost two on the trot. I just don’t know what to make of the Championship at times.”
That, of course, is not quite true. At the risk of mistaking yet another false dawn at Molineux, it really does look as if McCarthy has built a team seriously capable of winning promotion to the Premier League.
The hard facts are that with an attack of proper balance now, with two fully fit wingers in Michael Kightly and Matt Jarvis, and with Chris Iwelumo having become a genuine foil for Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, this Wolves side will take some stopping.
The slick football they are playing, with midfield anchorman Karl Henry looking the key to it all, will cause any team problems – as long as they all stay fit!
That may yet prove a worry if the rest of the team start piling up injuries at the rate the Wolves defence is currently being affected.
Hot on the heels of skipper Jody Craddock’s broken metatarsal came the sickening sight of George Elokobi being stretchered off at Portman Road after falling awkwardly on his right knee. A scan awaits him today – and already it seems certain McCarthy will have to spend again.
But that was the one downside to another solid performance, won by Sylvan Ebanks-Blake’s well-timed header and sealed by ‘supersub’ David Edwards’ clincher, just minutes after Ipswich had been reduced to 10 men for Alex Bruce’s ill-advised two-footed challenge on David Jones.
Wolves were so on top that their dominance in midfield was described by Ipswich boss Jim Magilton as “embarrassing”.
Wayne Hennessey only had to make one genuine save, while man of the match Richard Stearman twice reacted well with great cover tackles to thwart home danger man Kevin Lisbie as well as blocking on the line from Tommy Miller. But Wolves never looked in any real trouble.
“When you’re going forward as much as we do, you can leave yourselves with a bit of a bare bum at the back,” admitted McCarthy. “And I thought Stearman and Neill Collins were different class.”
Different class. Another cliché maybe. But, as far as Wolves were concerned on Saturday, class told.
Scorers: Ebanks-Blake (21), Edwards (78)
IPSWICH TOWN (4-4-2): Wright; Bruce, Naylor, McAuley, Thatcher; Walters, Miller, Shumulikoski (Garvan 54), Haynes ; Lisbie, Lee (Counago ht). Subs: Supple (gk), Balkestein
WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS (4-4-2): Hennessey; Foley, Collins, Stearman, Elokobi (D Ward 63); Kightly (Keogh 92), Henry, Jones, Jarvis; Iwelumo, Ebanks-Blake (Edwards 63). Subs not used: Ikeme (gk), Vokes
Sent off: Bruce (76)
Booked: Ipswich - Shumulikoski (shirt tug), Counago (foul); Wolves –Henry (dissent), Edwards (kicking ball away)
Referee: Steve Tanner (Avon)