Wolves are gifted lev­eller by Stock­dale

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Alex Smith

KEEPER David Stock­dale went from hero to zero as Brighton held play-off chas­ing Wolves, but manager Chris Hughton stood by his shot stop­per.

Brighton right-back Bruno had guided his well-struck shot from the edge of the area un­der To­masz Kuszczak af­ter a pa­tient Al­bion build-up to give the hosts a de­served lead.

But Stock­dale gifted the vis­i­tors an equaliser when he palmed a Ra­jiv van La Parra’s mishit cross into his goal.

The for­mer Ful­ham man went some­way to atone his howler when he blocked out Bakary Sako’s last-gasp blast with a point­blank save and Hughton re­fused to blame his shot stop­per for the draw.

He said: “I think there is no doubt that Stocky will be dis­ap­pointed with the goal that they scored but that is a goal­keeper’s lot.

“He ended up mak­ing three good saves. Two in par­tic­u­lar were ex­cel­lent saves for us.

“You have to be big and strong enough to re­spond to mis­takes as a goal­keeper.

“You have to re­mem­ber the save at the end was af­ter he has con­ceded that goal.

“As a goal­keeper you have to ac­cept the bad bits that come with the good bits.

“I’m dis­ap­pointed with the draw be­cause we had the lead, but if we’d come from be­hind I’d be de­lighted.”

Lewis Dunk spec­tac­u­larly slipped to al­low Benik Afobe a free ef­fort at Stock­dale but the keeper blocked out the shot be­fore Gor­don Greer ran back onto his own line to block Sako’s re­bound.

Afobe, who had scored seven times in 11 Wolves games since join­ing from Ar­se­nal, again forced Stock­dale into mud­dy­ing his jer­sey when his shot looked set for the bot­tom cor­ner.

Craig Mack­ail-Smith should have scored on his re­turn from in­jury in just the sec­ond minute but he weakly met Inigo Calderon’s cross to head straight at Al­bion old-boy Kuszczak.

The front­man found him­self in be­hind the vis­i­tors’ de­fence again af­ter Wolves left-back Kort­ney Hause mis­placed his clear­ance, but slipped as he poked the ball wide.

Mack­ail-Smith then com­pleted a hat-trick of first-half squan­dered chances when he curled an ef­fort tamely at Kuszczak.

It was al­most fourth-time lucky for the for­mer Peter­bor­ough goal-get­ter but he was ad­judged marginally off­side af­ter Kuszczak had palmed away Joao Teix­eira’s sting­ing drive.

Hughton said of his mis­fir­ing striker: “All we can do is keep work­ing with him.

“He puts play­ers un­der pres­sure and works hard but he needs to add goals to the mix.

“First and fore­most a striker needs to be a team player and the next stage is get­ting goals.”

Wolves could have gone within a point of the Cham­pi­onship play­off po­si­tions with a win, but Wolves chief Kenny Jack­ett said: “I felt it was a close game.We have to keep push­ing.

“A cou­ple of the other teams in and around the play-offs dropped points so gained a point.

“We have two home games this week and they will be key to whether we go up.

“Both teams ended the game very well.

“It was a great save by Stock­dale at the death and Afobe had a very good chance with a header.

“My goal­keeper is dis­ap­pointed that he let the ball un­der him but it is all fine lines in a close game.

“There are loads of thin mar­gins through a sea­son which de­fine pro­mo­tion but Sako’s miss won’t be de­ci­sive in our sea­son.

“It was prob­a­bly a cross that caught out their keeper.

“I haven’t spo­ken to Van La Parra about it but I’m sure he will claim it.”

PIC­TURE: Ge­off Penn/ProS­port­sI­mages

POINT TO PROVE: Wolves scorer Ra­jiv van La Parra cel­e­brates with Bakary Sako

RAM­PAG­ING FOR­WARD: Brighton de­fender Bruno breaks away

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