McCarthy playing it cool as Wolves open up a six-point gap
WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS 2
Wolverhampton Wanderers opened up a six-point gap on their nearest Coca-Cola Championship rivals with a hard-fought victory over fellow promotion chasers Burnley but the game was almost marred by the decisions of referee Darren Deadman.
The man in the middle managed to kill off the game with a flurry of seven yellow cards before leaving the Clarets reduced to ten men. Defender Clarke Carlisle was given his marching orders in the 79th minute for a second crunching foul on Sylvan Ebanks-Blake but was already marching off down the tunnel before the referee could even reach to his pocket.
Wolves’ manager Mick McCarthy, however, was delighted with his side’s performance and both goals from Michael Kightly as the England Under 21 midfielder underlined just why his international boss Stuart Pearce is such a big fan.
McCarthy insisted that the daylight being opened between his side and nearest rivals Birmingham City at the top of the table, however, was in no way an indicator of how the season might finfish.
He said: “We may be six points clear but that is still 30 games to play. Of course it is nice to get ahead, but you are not going to get me waxing lyrical about it.
“I am sure people will say it’s the dour Yorkshireman talking but it is common sense because we have just got to keep on winning games.
“We didn’t get carried away when we lost three and we won’t get carried away when we win a few. We are not playing brilliant football but we are winning games and that is down to hard graft.”
The Wolves boss managed his players from the sidelines propped up on crutches at times, having undergone surgery on a troublesome left ankle last week. But if the doctors had ordered rest, there was no sign of that, as McCarthy engineered his troops against Owen Coyle’s high-flying Burnley, who are themselves seeking promotion to the top flight. Prior to this encounter, they were sitting pretty in fourth place and had gone five games unbeaten.
Wolves started the brighter side with both star strikers Chris Iwelumo and Ebanks-Blake going close in the opening exchanges while Wade Elliott tried to unnerve goalkeeper Carl Ikeme at the other end.
Tackles flew in thick and fast on both sides but in the end it was the home side, bouyed by a noisy 23,000-strong crowd, who finally stamped their authority on the game with a strike in each half by Kightly after great play on both ocasions by Ebanks-Blake.
Kightly’s first sweetly-taken goal needed two attempts after first rebounding off the Burnley upright while his second came from a neat one-two with Ebanks-Blake, his England Under 21 team-mate.
Kightly has now hit the net seven times from midfield but was just pipped to the man-of-the-match award by Chelsea loan defender Michael Mancienne.
The 20-year-old, who is with Wolves until at least the New Year, was once again in scintillating form, keeping out everything Burnley could throw his way.
His long-term future has yet to be decided but, with Wolves looking this good, it may yet be possible for McCarthy to tempt him to stay at Molineux until at least the end of the season.
Scorer: Kightly, (31, 70) 0.
WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS (4-4-2): Ikeme, Foley, Mancienne, Stearman, Ward, Kightly, Henry, Jones, C Edwards (D Edwards, 83), Ebanks-Blake (Vokes, 89), Iwelumo (Keogh, 78). Substitutes: Hennessey, Collins.
BURNLEY (4-4-2): Jensen, Alexander, Carlisle, Caldwell, Gudjonsson (McDonald, 70), Elliott, McCann, Blake (Patterson, 60), Jordan, Thompson (Rodriguez, 63), Eagles. Substitutes: Penny, Duff.
Referee: Darren Deadman (Cambriodgeshire).
Bookings: Wolves – Jones ( foul); Burnley – Jordan (foul) Jensen (30), Carlisle (foul) Blake (dissent) Elliott (foul).
Sending-off: Burnley – Clarke (second bookable offence)
Wolves man of the match: Michael Mancienne – if Wolves can keep this Chelsea defender for the season, it will be a massive boost.