2-0 And They Couldn't Win

Last updated : 22 April 2004 By Brian Cartlidge
The last time Wolves visited St Andrews was for a first division fixture back on March 9th 2002 and they sailed into a two goal lead only for Blues to hit back with two goals of their own.

Wolves were riding high at the top of the division one table at the time and before the game were a massive 20 points in front of Blues with more than a quarter of the season gone. The draw at St Andrews proved to be the beginning of their downfall however.

In a nutshell they blew it and were pipped for automatic promotion by Manchester City and West Brom. They then lost in the play-off semi finals to Norwich, who Blues beat in the final to clinch the third promotion spot. Wolves were eventually promoted the following season although they look odds-on now for a swift return to the Nationwide.

Here's how Singing The Blues match reporter BluenoseRon saw the last game between the two sides at St Andrews:

Blues hit back after going 2-0 down to gain a hard earned point in a heated local derby at a windswept St Andrews.

Wolves had taken a two goal lead - against the run of play - through two set pieces, but Blues showed great character to hit back, and should have gone on to win the game.

Blues started very brightly, and had several chances to open the scoring, so it was something of a surprise when Wolves took the lead after 20 minutes. Michael Johnson was perhaps incorrectly adjudged to have fouled Nathan Blake, and from the resulting free kick, Paul Butler stole in at the far post and was able to easily shrug aside Tommy Mooney's poor attempt at a challenge to nod the ball past Ian Bennett.

It was even more of a surprise when Wolves went 2-0 up, with only their second chance of the game. Mark Kennedy and Alex Rae combined from a corner, and Bennett flapped at Kennedy's inswinging cross, allowing Joleon Lescott to glance the ball into the back of the net.

Blues continued to pressurise Wolves, and desevedly got back into the game through Stern John, who fired in a powerful low drive from 25 yards that Michael Oakes appeared to have covered until he allowed it to roll under his body and into the net. Blues bombarded Oakes' goal, with Geoff Horsfield and John both missing numerous chances.

Blues' equaliser came in first half injury time, and was a wonderful strike by the impressive Paul Devlin - possibly making his last appearande in a Blues shirt. Martin Grainger drifted across what looked like a poor cross, but Devlin ran in unmarked at the far post and struck a beautiful volley with the outside of his right foot which flew past Oakes.

The second half lacked the excitement of the first in many respects, although John and Horsfield continued to waste chance after chance. The second period was a far more heated affair, with Blues fans wondering what Rae had to do to get sent off. Rae was at the centre of much of the controversy, as was the new, improved aggressive Bryan Hughes, who appeared to want to fight everyone, which made a refreshing change. In truth, it was a shock that no player saw red, with Rae and Hughes appearing the likely candidates, leaving Martin Grainger and Kevin Muscat to their unusually subdued selves.

Overall, Blues can be happy with a point in a tough game against the once-again League leaders - particularly after going two goals behind. However, Blues were so dominant at points in the game, it would have just been nice if they'd gone for the throat a little more, although had Stern John or Geoff Horsfield had their shooting boots on, I suspect all three points would have stayed at St Andrews.

Blues: Bennett, Kenna, Michael Johnson, Purse, Grainger, Devlin, Carter, Mooney (Woodhouse 73), Hughes, Horsfield, John. Subs Not Used: Vaesen, Eaden, Hyde, Damien Johnson.

Goals: John 36, Devlin 45.

Wolves: Oakes, Muscat, Butler, Lescott, Camara, Newton, Cameron (Andrews 62), Rae, Kennedy, Sturridge, Blake. Subs Not Used: Ndah, Pollet, Miller, Murray.

Goals: Butler 20, Lescott 29.

Attendance: 22,104

Referee: S Mathieson (Stockport).

To view the Division One table on March 9th 2002 - CLICK HERE