Wolverhampton 2-0 Burnley: Deadly Doyle wins it for Wolves

Irish striker is the difference as Burnley slump to another away defeat
By Gareth Roberts

Wolverhampton v Burnley: Line-ups & stats
Premier League results/standings

Kevin Doyle inspired a crucial win for Wolves to ease the pressure on manager Mick McCarthy after the storm over his team selection at Old Trafford.

Striker Doyle tortured the Burnley defence all afternoon and after playing a crucial part in the first goal for Nenad Milijas, he scored the second to ensure Owen Coyle's away-day blues continued.

Wolves boss McCarthy went into this clash desperate for a win to get the critics off his back.

The Yorkshireman came under heavy fire from all quarters after resting 10 players in the 3-0 defeat at Manchester United, a result that came just days after his side had beaten high-flying Spurs at White Hart Lane.

As expected, it was all change here at Molineux as McCarthy made nine changes to his starting line-up, leaving goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann as the only Wolves player to have started the Black Country side’s last three games.

Travel sick Burnley, playing their 2,000th top-flight game, were still seeking their first win on the road in the Premier League. Prior to this showdown between the sides promoted from the Championship last season, the Clarets had picked up just one point away from Turf Moor in eight league games.

When the sides last met in the top league, in the 1975/6 season, Wolves nicked a thriller 3-2. But there was nothing thrilling about a scrappy start which did little to warm supporters on a freezing cold day in Wolverhampton.

Burnley’s Chris Eagles was the first to try for goal, but his ambitious free-kick from 35 yards drifted harmlessly wide of Hahnemann’s left post with four minutes on the clock.

The Lancashire side looked dangerous on the counter attack early on and a raid down the right by Tyrone Mears saw the defender find club top scorer Steven Fletcher in the box, but the Scot’s header lacked the power needed to trouble Hahnemann.

Wolves had shown patches of bright build up play on an ice-scarred pitch but had failed to trouble the Burnley goal.

But that changed on nine minutes when £6.5million striker Doyle tried his luck from the edge of the box. The Irishman’s effort cannoned off a defender for the first corner of the day but the shot seemed to lift Wolves and their frozen fans.

The Midlands side began to pile on the pressure with Doyle the dangerman. And it was the former Reading star who was key to Wolves nosing ahead on 15 minutes.

Doyle used his electric pace to quickly close down Burnley’s Clarke Carlisle, stealing the ball on the left of the area before squaring for Matthew Jarvis inside the box.

Jarvis hit a weak-looking shot towards goal and Clarets stopper Brian Jensen should have done better as he parried the ball straight into the path of Milijas who tapped in an easy finish from six yards to delight his boss McCarthy on the touchline.

Burnley immediately went in search of an equaliser and Kevin McDonald was set free on the edge of the Wolves area after some slick passing but scuffed his effort wide from a great position.

On 19 minutes Wolves should have been two up. Again Doyle and Milijas were involved, this time the tricky Serbian laying on a chance for an offside-looking Doyle, whose effort was clubbed away by the right boot of the floored Jensen.

Burnley's Carlisle, at fault for the first goal, was replaced by Mike Duff on 34 minutes and Doyle was soon troubling the defender with his bustling style.

And there were more worries for manager Owen Coyle when striker Fletcher required treatment after he accidentally kicked the studs of Wolves defender Jody Craddock.

Fletcher was fit enough to continue but he cut a frustrated figure as the first half wore on with below-par Burnley struggling to carve out any clear cut opportunities and wasteful in possession.

Burnley kicked off the second half mindful that Wolves had not managed to keep a clean sheet at home all season.

Coyle tweaked his tactics with Andre Bikey pushed up front to support Fletcher and the Clarets were the first to threaten three minutes into the second half.

A quality ball from the right by Mears looked sure to find the head of Fletcher but Wolves defender Richard Stearman clambered over the forward to head away for a corner.

Fletcher felt he had been wrestled away from the ball unfairly but referee Martin Atkinson waved away the appeals for a penalty.

From the corner, the ball eventually broke to Duff but the defender swung at air when well placed in a huge let off for Wolves.

Seconds later, McCarthy’s side went two ahead and again it was that man Doyle.

A long punt out of the Wolves defence was controlled by the striker who fended off Steven Caldwell before smartly turning Duff and finishing expertly with his left foot from eight yards with Jensen helpless in the Burnley goal.

It was a clever goal by Doyle, his fifth in the league this season, but he then stupidly stripped off his shirt to celebrate in front of the Wolves faithful and was booked for his troubles.

The goal marked the end of Bikey’s role as an emergency striker as he was replaced by David Nugent on 52 minutes with Coyle left with little choice but to gamble as another away game looked to be slipping from the Clarets’ grasp.

Skipper Caldwell was close to giving the men from Turf Moor a lifeline on 63 minutes. The Scot rose highest after Hahnemann flapped at a corner and headed goalwards, only to be denied on the line by the waiting Kevin Foley.

It was end to end stuff now with Burnley going for broke but Wolves were denied a third from a counter attack when Sylvan Ebanks-Blake’s header from point-blank range was spectacularly saved by Jensen.

Both sides made changes on 68 minutes with Joey Gudjonnson replacing Caldwell for Burnley and defender Michael Mancienne, on loan from Chelsea, coming on for Wolves in place of goalscorer Milijas.

It was swashbuckling stuff in the second half in stark contrast to a stagnant first period.

Ebanks-Blake was starting to have a say on the game and on 71 minutes he burst into the box but with the angle against him he could only blast at Jensen who pushed the ball away for a corner.

From the flag-kick Doyle beat Graham Alexander with a super leap but his header lacked the accuracy to beat a relieved Jensen.

With Eagles pulling the strings for Burnley, the Clarets were passing the ball much better and Fletcher again was left looking pleadingly at the referee as he was hauled back in the box by Karl Henry for what looked a penalty.

But referee Atkinson was unmoved and his arms stayed by his side to frustrate Coyle’s men.

The Wolves fans ended the game singing the name of on-song Doyle, who was substituted in the dying moments.

It must have been music to the ears of McCarthy, who allowed himself a wry smile after his Old Trafford plan paid dividends.