Wolverhampton Wandererss 8 match unbeaten run ended at the Ricoh Arena, going down 2-1 to Iain Dowie’s Coventry City after losing Jackie McNamara at the end of the first half for a second bookable offence.
But Wolves fans can be proud of their side who battled, fought and scrapped for everything, never giving up hope until the final whistle.
Coventry dominated the match from the outset, taking full advantage of their home advantage, even if their mostly out sung fans didn’t.
In the opening minutes Michael Doyle tested Matt Murray from range, Murray collecting the ball at the second attempt, and shortly after Coventry fans felt they should gave been awarded a penalty when Misfud went to ground under a Gary Breen challenge.
In a frenetic first 15 minutes first Michael Kightly, then Jackie McNamara earned themselves bookings as a fatigued Wolves struggled to come to terms with Coventry’s onslaught.
Gradually Wolves started to claw their way back into the game, but an uncharacteristic defensive lapse let in Dele Adebola for Coventry’s opener.
On 26 minutes a Stephen Hughes free kick was allowed to bounce in the Wolves area until in a crowd of Wolves defenders Dele Adebola stabbed the ball home at the far post.
Coventry pressed hard for a second. Gary Breen blocked an Adebola shot, and then Matt Murray once again came to Wolves rescue, diving low to stop a Misfud shot from 12 yards.
In the last minute of normal time, Jackie McNamara tussled with Isaac Osbourne on the half way line, which looked like a case of give and take, but referee Paul Walton reached for his pocket, giving Jackie Mac his second yellow and Wolves were a man short.
Down to ten men, shattered from a titanic local derby, Wolves could’ve let their heads drop but Mick McCarthy’s men aren’t quitters.
Moments after the red card and into injury time Andy Keogh made room for a left foot cross to Seyi Olofinjana 6 yards out whose header across goal was parried by the Coventry ‘keeper Andy Marshall, but only as far as wing wonder Michael Kightly who buried his left foot shot high into the Coventry net to bring the sides level.
It was Kightly’s last contribution, Mick McCarthy being forced into sacrificing his uncut diamond at half time to shore up defence bringing on Jamie Clapham as cover for MacNamara.
Coventry started the second half as they had the first, instantly attacking the Wolves goal. First Michael Doyle, then Stephen Hughes trying their luck from long range as the Sky Blues camped out in the Wanderers half.
Wolves held out for 25 minutes, until another defensive mistake let Coventry in for their winner. The usually dependable Neil Collins failed to connect with a Coventry corner and the ball sailed through to Elliot Ward, unmarked on the back post who side footed the ball home.
Still Wolves didn’t give up. Mick McCarthy first threw on Jay Bothroyd for the tireless Stephen Ward, and then Mark Davies as his side went looking for an equaliser, as the Coventry nervously whistling for full time.
First Bothroyd had Coventry hearts in their mouths when his curling left foot 30 yard volley narrowly went over the bar, and in the closing seconds, Darren Potter played a short free kick to Sunday’s hero whose on target shot went through the Coventry wall only for Andy Marshall to save it at full stretch.
Matt Murray finished the match in obvious pain, hobbling on one leg following a heavy fall that could have repercussions for Wolves promotion push, and only finished the game as all three subs had already been used.
Mick McCarthy faces an anxious wait to find out the full extent of the damage.
This simply wasn’t Wolves night, and the black county derby two days before had obviously taken it’s toll.
Down to 10 men against a resurgent Coventry City, they were always going to up against it, and in the end, something had to give.
But with teams around them drawing and losing. Wolves only slip one place to fifth, and then only on goal difference.
Mick McCarthy may see this as a missed chance to move up to third, but to many it will always be a case of a game too soon.
Mick McCarthy On Timing Of Fixture
“I don’t think it was too much but I think it’s a distinct advantage to the opposition. It’s even more of an advantage when you’ve only got ten men,”
“I think the question of putting the game back to Wednesday was asked, but it wasn’t me making the call. Would they have said yes? Do me a favour. It’s their game and it’s their prerogative.”
Mick McCarthy On The Sending Off
“I’m not so sure about the sending-off. I’d need to look at it again. I think the first one was unlucky and the second was when he’s stumbling and fell over on it. I’ll look at it again and put my report to the referee.