Wolves add icing on cake
Wanderers finish season seven points clear at top after Rovers win
By Elliot Ball. Last Updated: 03/05/09 4:13pm
McCarthy: Late winner
Champions Wolves left it late to win their final game of the season at home to Doncaster.
Richard Steaman's 91st minute strike proved the difference on Sunday as Mick McCarthy's Premier-League bound side left the Molineux brimming with joy.
It had looked as though as the promotion party would begin on the back of a stalemate as Doncaster more than held their own and they almost took the lead when James Hayter brought a fine save out of Wayne Hennessey.
The injury-time victory saw McCarthy's men seal their 15th home win of the season, while Doncaster celebrated their highest-placed league finish for over 50 years as they ended in 14th position.
Wolves had the luxury of going into the final game knowing it was job done and the Championship trophy was being polished and decorated with gold and black ribbons ahead of the after-match presentation.
The home fans were in party mood at Molineux as they celebrated a return to the top division following a five-year absence.
And with nothing resting on today's result, the game began in slow fashion with neither side playing at full throttle.
The prolific Sylvan Ebanks-Blake - all but certain to be awarded with the division's golden boot - tried to add to his 25 league goals, but he fired a long-range effort wide and Rovers' Hayter had a goalbound effort well blocked by Jody Craddock.
Wolves were the dominant side the first half and their only real surge into the Doncaster penalty area almost brought an opening goal.
Foley, who was being employed in a central midfield role, broke into the box and created space for a shot, but his effort hit the post and bounced out of play just before the break.
Doncaster came out in the second half meaning business and almost took the lead.
When Hayter pounced on a loose ball, he somehow fired wide from close range and the striker - who has scored four goals in the last five games - missed another golden chance just 10 minutes later.
Martin Woods flighted in an inviting free-kick that Hayter got on the end of, but his header was superbly turned around the post by Hennessey.
Doncaster continued to threaten and Hennessey was forced into another good save, when he denied substitute Lewis Guy with his feet.
The home side finally roused and went close when skipper Karl Henry fired in an effort from 20 yards that Neil Sullivan tipped around the post and the game looked to be heading for a draw until the late action.
Skipper Henry played a short corner to Stephen Ward, who whipped in a fine cross that defender Stearman met and headed high into the net to kick the celebrations off in style and leave Wolves contemplating life in the top division.
Sky Bet Championship
Sun 3rd May
Watford3 - 1Derby
Plymouth1 - 2Barnsley
C Palace0 - 0Sheff Utd
N Forest3 - 1So'ton
Swansea0 - 1Blackpool
Reading1 - 2Birm'ham
Preston2 - 1QPR
Sheff Wed1 - 0Cardiff
Wolves1 - 0Doncaster
Ipswich2 - 1Coventry
Charlton4 - 2Norwich
Burnley4 - 0Bristol C
Sky Bet Championship
|22||Brighton and Hove Albion||21||18|