English Premiership

Wolves lifted by draw

2010-04-24 19:04
Sylvan Ebanks-Blake (AFP)

Wolverhampton - A late goal from substitute Sylvan Ebanks-Blake earned Wolverhampton Wanderers a 1-1 draw at home to Blackburn Rovers on Saturday that all but secures their Premier League status.

Visiting skipper Ryan Nelsen put Rovers ahead in the first half but Ebanks-Blake drew his side level nine minutes from time.

Wolves, promoted from the second-tier Championship as champions last season, had not scored in their previous four games and had not tasted victory at Molineux since a 1-0 defeat of Tottenham on February 10.

But with Hull, who currently occupy the last relegation place, losing 1-0 at home to Sunderland, Wolves are now seven points above the drop zone with two games to play.

The Midlands side can only be caught by second-bottom Burnley, but will be assured of their status among England's elite clubs if Burnley fail to beat Liverpool on Sunday.

Blackburn enjoyed the best of the first half, with Michel Salgado seeing a penalty appeal turned down in the ninth minute and Martin Olsson scuffing a volley wide shortly after.

Turkish midfielder Yildiray Basturk, making his first start since joining on loan from Stuttgart in January, teed up Nikola Kalinic to head against the post before the visitors took the lead in the 28th minute.

Wolves goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann got caught beneath Morten Gamst Pedersen's floated right-wing corner and New Zealand international Nelsen volleyed home from close range at the back post.

The hosts spurned two opportunities to equalise before the break, with Kevin Doyle heading over the crossbar and Jody Craddock blazing a volley wide from an acute angle after a free-kick from the left was flicked on.

David Jones threatened with a free-kick after seven minutes of the second period but Blackburn's England goalkeeper Paul Robinson comfortably palmed it away, while Craddock hit another volley over moments later.

Mick McCarthy's men began to put the visitors under pressure and Stephen Ward had a shot hacked off the line by Blackburn centre-back Phil Jones.

Pedersen fired a 69th-minute free-kick straight at Hahnemann and Wolves' response saw substitute Nenad Milijas shoot just wide from the edge of the box.

McCarthy introduced Ebanks-Blake from the bench in the 78th minute and three minutes later he met Ward's left-wing cross with a downward header that bounced in off the post to send Molineux wild.

Blackburn midfielder Keith Andrews crashed a shot against the post in the game's dying moments but it was the last scare for the Wolves fans, who streamed onto the pitch at the final whistle in anticipation of seeing their team play in the top flight again next season.

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