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Tuesday, 19 March 2013

The View Outside The Premier League: Late show saves Wolves and it's a League Two logjam


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Sqf hugh larkin

Saturday's game with Bristol City was a home encounter that Wolves simply couldn't afford to lose. Forget the term six pointer- everything was on the line in this one and after putting the Molineux fans through the wringer, the team scraped the victory.

It's a measure of their plight that even with this win Wolves are still mired at the bottom with only Bristol City below them. But it could have been so much worse after gifting the Robins a comedy own goal in the first half. Keeper Carl Ikeme let a David Davis back pass through his legs and the nerves went through the roof.

Three quarters of the game had gone before the Robins defence gave way but seasoned campaigner Sylvan Ebanks-Blake produced a quality turn and finish to ease the pressure- and almost immediately Kevin Doyle was able to get the vital second.

Stephen Hunt isn't the most popular player with the home fans judging by the boos from some areas of the ground when he came on but the ex-Reading man dug out a cross to set up Doyle. At least Dean Saunders has his first points at home but its still a desperate fight to stay up.

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For several weeks this column has mentioned the battle to avoid the drop to the Football League but now the table has become insanely tight with no less than five teams all on 40 points and York City just one further on.

Just about every team up to mid-table has to keep a watchful eye but a couple of wins can make an amazing difference. AFC Wimbledon have rocketed away in recent weeks after being stuck at the bottom for a long period. On Saturday they bagged a third straight win with a hard fought victory at Aldershot.

Accrington Stanley won a lifeline by beating fellow strugglers Barnet but even after going three goals up they were on tenterhooks as Barnet fought back to 3-2. In the side for Stanley was another England international, Francis Jeffers, joining James Beattie in Stanley's survival battle.

Jeffers won a penalty for his side but it was Lee Molyneux who took the spot kick - and the plaudits - to complete a first half hat-trick. Molyneux has suffered with injury but there's no doubting his talent and he could be vital to the club in the run in.

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Brentford gave their hopes of promotion to the Championship a boost with a late, late penalty winner over Preston. The sense of relief will have been all the sweeter when the Bees came off the park to find out that Sheffield United took a four goal hammering at Stevenage.

Uwe Rosler's side move into second place and Sheffield United fans will have dark memories of their side missing out on an automatic promotion slot by the thinnest of margins last season.

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Next weeekend Wrexham and Grimsby Town will lock horns at Wembley in the FA Trophy Final but arguably the game is a distraction for both clubs as they come under pressure in the race for promotion to the Football League.

Grimsby were beaten at home again on Saturday and Wreham were held goalless by Luton. This allowed Mansfield Town to maintain their surge and knock the Welsh side off the top. The Mariners seem to have blown their title hopes and are looking anxiously over their shoulders to preserve their play-off slot.

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Hugh Larkin

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