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Molineux Stadium (ATT 27,106) 26th December 2008 - Kick off 15:00 Ref: T Bates

Wolves Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Sheffield United Sheff Utd

Wolves 1


Wolves remain seven clear

Leaders frustrated by the Blades

By Ben Collins.   Last Updated: 26/12/08 6:46pm

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Collins: Enjoys opener

Collins: Enjoys opener

Wolves remain seven points clear at the top of the Championship despite being held to a 1-1 draw at home to Sheffield United.

Defender Neill Collins gave Wolves a 19th-minute lead at Molineux but it was cancelled out just three minutes later by James Beattie.

Highly-rated goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey then had to make two fantastic saves to maintain Wolves' unbeaten home record, showing why he has been touted as a potential January transfer target for Arsenal.

Sheffield United still slipped to eighth place despite holding the leaders and made a bright start.

Striker Danny Webber should have put the Blades into a fourth-minute lead when he broke through the centre of the static Wolves defence to find himself one-on-one with Hennessey but the Wolves keeper smothered bravely at Webber's feet.

But the league leaders' first threatening move was decisive as Collins netted for the second time in two games.

The towering centre-back was on hand to head home as he rose above the United defence to power home Michael Kightly's cross from close range.

Quick response

But just when it seemed Mick McCarthy's men were becoming invincible, the visitors replied almost immediately to quell the festive cheer at Molineux.

It took a magnificent reaction save from Hennessey to deny Beattie's first turn and shot but, with the ball bobbling out of the danger area, Kyle Naughton delivered a fizzing ball across the six-yard box.

Hennessey could only palm into the path of the grateful Beattie, and the former England striker used all his predatory instinct to tap home the equaliser from close range.

The visitors finished the first half in the same way they had started, and Wolves were again indebted to Hennessey for keeping the scores level as he was at full stretch to tip Ugo Ehiogu's ferocious volley round a post.

The veteran centre-back was forced off at half-time with an injury and replaced by Gary Naysmith, but it did not stop the Blades' momentum.

Kevin Blackwell's side continued to press but the home side always looked a danger on the counter-attack and Chris Iwelumo almost capitalised only to see his close-range effort blocked by Blades keeper Ian Bennett.

Hopeful efforts

Shots on goal became few and far between as both sides took a more cautious approach in the second period and United were restricted to shots from long range with former Barnsley midfielder Brian Howard failing to find the target from 20 yards.

But the Blades were still on top and once again Hennessey came to the home side's rescue when he got down low to palm Nick Montgomery's long-range drive wide in the 72nd minute.

Blackwell ordered his team to pile forward in the closing stages and the league leaders were made to fight but a combination of stoic defending and sheer determination earned Wolves a point.

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Sky Bet Championship

Sky Bet Championship
Pos Team P Pts
1 Bournemouth 46 90
2 Watford 46 89
3 Norwich City 46 86
4 Middlesbrough 46 85
5 Brentford 46 78
6 Ipswich Town 46 78
7 Wolverhampton Wanderers 46 78
8 Derby County 46 77
9 Blackburn Rovers 46 67
10 Birmingham City 46 63
11 Cardiff City 46 62
12 Charlton Athletic 46 60
13 Sheffield Wednesday 46 60
14 Nottingham Forest 46 59
15 Leeds United 46 56
16 Huddersfield Town 46 55
17 Fulham 46 52
18 Bolton Wanderers 46 51
19 Reading 46 50
20 Brighton and Hove Albion 46 47
21 Rotherham United 46 46
22 Millwall 46 41
23 Wigan Athletic 46 39
24 Blackpool 46 26