The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By John Brind­ley

AVI­BRANT Molineux crowd came hop­ing to cheer a vi­tal victory in Wolves’ play-off quest, but it was a for­mer hero who left with the big­gest smile.

Both man­agers agreed this was a point won by Ip­swich and two lost by Wolves as the play-off chase heads to­wards its penul­ti­mate hur­dle.

Richard Stear­man’s own goal gave the vis­i­tors a first-half lead on which to build their de­fi­ance, be­fore ace marks­man Benik Afobe emerged briefly from the shack­les of the hugely res­o­lute and im­pres­sive Ip­swich de­fence to grab a 50thminute equaliser.

Ip­swich manager Mick McCarthy, who steered Wolves to pro­mo­tion be­fore be­ing sacked in Fe­bru­ary 2012, wasn’t slow to ap­pre­ci­ate the irony of an af­ter­noon in which Christophe Berra, a key fig­ure in that Wolves side, stood im­pres­sively in the home side’s way.

“I didn’t have a point to prove,” he said. “I al­ways ap­pre­ci­ate the warm re­cep­tion I get here. I love the club and the peo­ple here – I’m just glad to be tak­ing away a point.

“Berra was mag­nif­i­cent. I’ve told the lads in the dress­ing room ‘you’re a bel­liger­ent, stub­born, hard­work­ing, tough bunch of sods and I’m proud of you’.

“There are teams be­low us in the ta­ble play­ing sexy foot­ball who cock a snook at us, but I don’t care.

“We do our jobs well and that’s what counts.

“It’s in our hands now to ei­ther big it up or screw it up.”

Kick­ing off a cru­cial three points be­hind the vis­i­tors,Wolves were full of early en­ergy.

Do­minic Iorfa and Nouha Dicko both drew ap­pre­cia­tive roars from the home sup­port for their eye­catch­ing pace, but, sig­nif­i­cantly, a clear a chance didn’t ma­te­ri­alise.

In­stead Ip­swich, who had the first hint of an op­por­tu­nity when Daryl Mur­phy hooked a left-foot shot a yard wide in the third minute, went ahead with a stroke of for­tune.

The su­perb Tommy Smith chal­lenged strongly for Teddy Bishop’s right-wing cor­ner but it was Stear­man’s mist­imed header that looped apolo­get­i­cally over goal­keeper Carl Ikeme.

Both sides ended the half tech­ni­cally with­out a shot on tar­get – although that was harsh on Dave

PIC­TURE: Will Kill­patrick

AHEAD: Ip­swich Town play­ers cel­e­brate af­ter tak­ing the lead through a Richard Stear­man own-goal

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