Wolves rescue unlikely point at Newcastle
Kevin Doyle handed caretaker manager Terry Connor a point in his first game as Wolverhampton Wanderers pulled off an unlikely comeback to draw 2-2 at Newcastle United.
The visitors, who sacked Mick McCarthy in the wake of their derby drubbing by West Bromwich Albion, looked likely to lose again after Papiss Cisse and then Jonas Gutierrez had fired the Magpies into a 2-0 lead with just 18 minutes played.
However, in front of the disbelieving eyes of a crowd of 52,287, the avalanche failed to materialise and, after Matt Jarvis had dragged the visitors back into the game five minutes into the second half, Doyle struck with 66 minutes gone to snatch a draw which dented the home side's hopes of putting pressure on the Premier League's top four.
Both sides had conceded five times in their previous game, but for 45 minutes only one looked likely to repeat that feat this afternoon as the visitors' disappointing return in front of goal and inability to deny the opposition at the other end returned to haunt them.
In truth, Wolves enjoyed as much of the possession as their hosts, but where they huffed and puffed without ever really troubling goalkeeper Tim Krul, Newcastle managed to expose opposite number Wayne Hennessey almost at will, and beat him twice within the opening 18 minutes.
The Wales international found himself in the thick of the action almost from the off, although his side contributed to their own downfall as the first goal arrived with just six minutes played.
Yohan Cabaye, back from his three-match suspension to partner Cheick Tiote in his first appearance since the beginning of last month, caught Christophe Berra in possession and crossed for Demba Ba to audaciously back-heel a shot towards goal.
Hennessey pulled off a fine save to deny the Senegal international, but after the ball was scrambled clear, Tiote returned it with interest and Cisse turned his shot home. The keeper kept Newcastle at bay with 17 minutes gone when he tipped Danny Simpson's searing drive over the bar, but he was beaten again within seconds.
Doyle's clearing header dropped to Gutierrez 25 yards out, and the Argentinian took a controlling touch before rifling a shot into the top corner. For all that they had been plunged into a seemingly hopeless position, the visitors continued to pass the ball confidently, with Jarvis down the left and right-back Ronald Zubar causing problems.
However, they were able to create little of note, although Krul did have to come quickly from his line to prevent Jarvis from picking up the pieces after Doyle's 36th-minute effort had been blocked.
Cisse had earlier flicked a header wide and Stephen Ward, who needed extensive treatment after being caught in a challenge with Ryan Taylor, covered superbly to block the same man's shot in front of goal with three minutes of the first half remaining.
But as the players left the pitch at half-time, there was cause for optimism in only one of the dressing rooms. However, the mood changed markedly within five minutes of the restart as Wolves were granted a slice of the sort of good fortune which has eluded them for much of the season to date.
Jarvis cut inside from the left and fired in a shot which clipped full-back Simpson and looped high over Krul and into the net. Cabaye dragged a shot just wide from 20 yards three minutes later, but Wanderers sensed an opportunity and might have been level with 54 minutes gone had Doyle managed to get a touch to Jamie O'Hara's cross as he dived in.
Newcastle's response was tepid, to leave manager Alan Pardew a concerned man inside his technical area, and his mood would not have been improved by the sight of full-back Ward cutting inside to test Krul with a skidding shot which glanced off Tiote on its way to goal on the hour.
Cabaye and Ba failed to make the most of a 62nd-minute counter-attack, with Newcastle looking increasingly disjointed, and Pardew immediately instructed Hatem Ben Arfa to warm up.
Ben Arfa and Danny Guthrie duly arrived in place of the limping Cisse and Taylor, but Wolves were level within seconds of their introduction. Mike Williamson headed O'Hara's free-kick straight at Doyle, who reacted first to the rebound to poke the ball into the bottom corner.
In a frantic conclusion, it was Newcastle who could not rediscover their cutting edge with Wolves seeing out time under pressure, but with little genuine difficulty with Ben Arfa going close, but not close enough, twice in a frustrating finish to the game.