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Wednesday, 6 November, 2002, 22:15 GMT
Wolves 1-1 Portsmouth

Dean Sturridge earned Wolves a point at Molineux but Dave Jones' side missed their chance to make up ground on Division One leaders Portsmouth.

Ice-cool finishing saw first-half substitute Sturridge clip home his fourth goal of the season to cancel out Paul Merson's curling free-kick.

But Wolves will be disappointed not to have made more of a glut of possession.

Pompey carried more cut and thrust in the first period, but were lucky to go in 1-0 at half-time.

Merson came closest to breaking the deadlock in a goalless first half, Pompey's veteran playmaker latching onto Matt Taylor's fine cross only for home keeper Matt Murray to hold on at the far post.

Svetoslav Todorov was quick to make an impression, Wolves keeper Murray holding the Bulgarian striker's 18-yard header in the third minute, while Alex Rae saw his early long-range effort fizz over the bar.

Wolves were dealt an early blow when striker Nathan Blake limped away from the action after quarter of an hour with Sturridge taking his place.

Portsmouth too fell away in the areas where it mattered and loan signing Steve Stone's frustration manifested in a booking for his clumsy challenge on Sturridge.

Irwin influential

Visiting midfielder Carl Robinson was also given a yellow card for his foul on George Ndah.

Ndah could play no further part and he was replaced by Mark Kennedy after being stretchered off.

Wolves tore out of the blocks in the second period, but it was Portsmouth who broke the deadlock in the 55th minute.

Quashie was brought down 20 yards out by Kevin Cooper and Merson stepped up to curl the ball right-footed into the top right-hand corner with Murray rooted to the spot.

But Wolves continued to press and were deservedly level within seven minutes following a fine move involving Miller and Irwin down the left.

Former Manchester United stalwart Denis Irwin fired in another cross and Sturridge calmly lifted the ball over Shaka Hislop after cleverly making space in the box.

Wolverhampton: Murray, Edworthy, Lescott, Clyde, Irwin, Ndah, Ince, Rae, Cooper, Blake, Miller.
Subs: Oakes, Sturridge, Newton, Ingimarsson, Kennedy.

Portsmouth: Hislop, Stone, Primus, Ritchie, Taylor, Quashie, Diabate, Merson, Robinson, Todorov, Pericard.
Subs: Harper, Burchill, O'Neil, Cooper, Kawaguchi.

Referee: G Salisbury.

BBC Sport's Pat Murphy
"The game threatened to boil over at times"
Portsmouth boss Harry Redknapp
"For a makeshift team it was great"
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