Late Miller strike gives Blues hope

Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 Ipswich Town 1By Elvin KingIPSWICH Town's hopes of reaching the Premier League were kept alive by a last-ditch Tommy Miller free-kick in the Coca-Cola Championship at Molineux.

Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 Ipswich Town 1

By Elvin King

IPSWICH Town's hopes of reaching the Premier League were kept alive by a last-ditch Tommy Miller free-kick in the Coca-Cola Championship at Molineux.

In a game that neither side dared lose, the Blues went off the field delighted after grabbing a crucial point.

With Crystal Palace, who started the day one place above Town in sixth place, winning it was still not a particularly good afternoon for Town, but they are still in the hunt with two games left.

The Wolves goal came in the 73rd minute when Sylvan Ebanks-Blake had space to turn and shoot low into the net. This came just after Town had survived two close-range efforts by the striker.

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Both sides had chances in the first half on a bitterly cold afternoon.

Wolves were disrupted early when David Edwards was injured, and with no midfielder on the bench, central defender Gary Breen came on with Neill Collins moving to right back and Kevin Foley into midfield.

Wolves began with plenty of fire and Wright had to block an attempted Gray cross at the expense of a corner. Wright then had to nip in smartly to take the ball off the toes of Ebanks-Blake.

After five minutes, Miller sent Walters clear with the number 19's angled drive struck well but going a yard over the bar.

Central defender Collins flattened Walters with a tackle from behind just outside the box, with Hennessey gaining control of Quinn's free-kick only at the second attempt.

It had been quite a bright start by Town with the ball going from end to end and the signs were it would be an entertaining contest - even though there was so much at stake.

Midfielder Edwards was down for some while before receiving attention in the 13th minute, and he was limping badly as he left the pitch. Wolves played on with ten men, and Ebanks-Blake shot wide with a 25-yard low shot.

Edwards eventually came back on, but did not look too good, with the home side having no regular midfielders on the bench.

In the 18th minute Garvan and Wright fashioned a slick move down the left that ended with the full-back cutting inside to see his low shot saved by the keeper.

Edwards departed with defender Breen taking his place and Collins moving to right-back and Foley going forward to midfield.

Wolves opened up the Town defence in the 21st minute with Jarvis finding Keogh, but the angled left-foot shot was directed 2ft over Bywater's bar.

Ebanks-Blake missed a gilt-edged chance in the 22nd minute when he somehow managed to side-foot the ball over the bar from five yards from right in front of goal. Haynes had been caught napping by Jarvis, who supplied a perfect cross.

A relieved Ipswich were mainly forced to play in their own half with little understanding as yet between Counago and Walters in attack.

Following Ebank-Blake's miss of the season, Town had to survive a scramble in their own six-yard box following a left-wing corner. But they did break free in the 26th minute for Counago to set up Miller for a 22-yard shot that flew two yards wide.

It was cold, breezy afternoon in the midlands, and nothing like spring - with Town playing in better conditions throughout most of the winter.

A few boos were coming from the home fans as Wolves' passing started to go astray. Quinn and Wright combined down the left, and just when Counago was going to side-foot goalwards in the 29th minute Craddock nipped in with a timely challenge.

Wright was making some effective runs forward and in the 32nd minute he reached the by-line before passing across to Walters, who had a close-range effort blocked. From the rebound, Hennessey made a good near-post save from a low ten-yard Walters effort.

Foley was continuing to play in midfield, making the home side a tad disjointed with Ipswich enjoying an equal amount of play despite Haynes' inability to get into the game at this stage.

The 39th minute nearly brought Town a goal. Quinn attacked down the left, and when the home defence held off he tried his luck from 20 yards with Hennessey fumbling the save - with the ball looping off his fingers to drop just beside the far post.

From Town's corner, Wolves broke with Ebanks-Blake setting up Foley for a close-range first-time blast that luckily for Town was directed right at Bywater's midrift.

Ipswich went straight down the other end and after a neat one-two, Counago went into the clear only to be denied by a Hennessey block.

Chances were coming thick and fast, and in the 43rd minute Keogh met a corner at the far post, but his flying header clipped the top of the bar.

Just before stoppage time, Miller put Haynes down the right. A perfect cross was met by Counago who saw his effort blocked. The ball ballooned up to Quinn who decided to place rather than slam his shot - and his effort flew well wide of the far post.

Town had given as good as they got in the opening half - with both sides having had chances to have taken a crucial lead.

Kightly replaced Gray at the start of the second half, and his arrival was greeted with a huge cheer by Wolves fans, who were looking for an improvement by their team.

Within seconds, Walters took a pass from Wright and twisted round his marker to cross to the near post from ten yards away. Counago was at the near post, but could not get power in his shot and the ball was easily cleared.

In the 62nd minute Bywater caught Kightly's cross at the near post when Wolves threatened in a rare raid with the cut and trust and chances of the first half having disappeared.

Walters crossed well behind the goal after a measured Ipswich build-up as the pressure continued to show in the play of both sides and neither keeper having any second-half problems so far.

Wright did well to nip in front of Keogh in front of goal in the 69th minute after a smart run and cross by Jarvis down the left. Bywater had been bypassed and Wright's interception was vital.

A minute later Kightly had a flying header after a left-wing cross which thankfully struck De Vos and looped over the bar. It was the closest Wolves had come to a goal for some while and it livened up their fans.

Town had collected three away wins before today's match - two against teams in the bottom five, Scunthorpe and Sheffield United and one against Crystal Palace. And it didn't look as though it would be four when EBANKS-BLAKE scored his 23rd goal of the season.

It followed a piece of good fortune seconds earlier when the former Plymouth striker saw a close-range header blocked and then a follow-up volley strike a Town defender when a goal looked likely. But before Town could clear properly the ball was in the back of the net. Ebanks-Blake was unmarked when he received the ball just outside the penalty area, and his low right foot shot beat Bywater at the keeper's right-hand post.

The scorer was booked for taking off his shirt to celebrate, and while Counago received treatment and changed his shirt after a blow to his face, Lee came on Haynes.

Ipswich now had three up front but they were making little headway now - with Wolves having grabbed the advantage.

Rhodes came on for Counago with seven minutes left and any reward for Ipswich looking very unlikely now. Kyle came on for Ebanks-Blake two minutes later.

Lee did some good work down the right in the final stages without Town finding a route to goal.

But when Lee was fouled in the final (third) minute of stoppage time, MILLER stepped up to shoot right-footed into the net from 25 yards with Hennessey rooted to the spot. It was Miller's fourth goal of the season.