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Mick McCarthy praises Wolves' match-winner Stephen Ward

Stephen Ward
Ward had not scored for Wolves since Portman Road in February 2007

Wolves boss Mick McCarthy admits that it was a sweet moment to see Stephen Ward score the winning goal at Anfield against Liverpool on Wednesday night.

"I'm so pleased for him," McCarthy told BBC Sport. "If ever the cliche 'Unsung Hero' applied to anyone it's Wardy.

"He came here as a centre-forward, went to left wing, then played at left-back, he's played in midfield. Now he's gone back up front and got us the winner."

It also made up for Ward's red card on Wolves' last Anfield visit a year ago.

McCarthy has vivid memories of Ward being sent off for two yellow cards - the second of them a foul on Lucas Leiva, which persuaded Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina to run half the length of the field to point it out to referee Andre Marriner.

"Pepe Reina ran 70-odd yards to get him sent off when he was going off anyway and it didn't need that," McCarthy told BBC WM.

"If he recognises Wardy's face now, bearing down on him and putting the winner past him, then I'm delighted.

"Wardy's been arguably our best player over the last three games, certainly as energetic as anyone and to get the winning goal was thrilling for him and great for us."

It was the first time Ward had found the net for Wolves in almost four years.

After being signed from Bohemians on New Year's Day 2007, Ward enjoyed a great start to his career in gold and black, hitting three goals in four games in February.

The 25-year-old Dubliner has gone another 130 appearances before scoring again, admittedly having played the majority of those games in defence, after McCarthy cunningly chose to redeploy him at left-back.

But he has been restored to a forward role in Wolves' last three Premier League games, in the absence of main striker Kevin Doyle, with a thigh strain, and Stephen Fletcher, who has been ill.

And Ward responded by earning Wolves their first victory at Liverpool in almost 27 years, since Steve Mardenborough scored his only goal for the club.

That victory in January 1984 over a treble-winning Liverpool team who would end the campaign as champions of England and Europe did not stop Wolves being relegated that season.

But Wednesday's famous win, which lifted McCarthy's side off the bottom of the Premier League, has given Wolves fresh hope of beating the drop.

All those who had a good result, Fulham, Blackburn, Birmingham, West Ham, who were thinking we were going down and that's out of it, well, they've probably got to think again

Wolves boss Mick McCarthy

Having taken just one point from eight away matches this season before the trip to Anfield, they had the worst away record of any team in the top four divisions before kick-off on Wednesday night.

But they now go into Saturday's game at bottom club West Ham - scene of their previous last away win, 3-1 in March, with the chance to climb out of the bottom three.

"We've played very well, we deserved it and we were better than Liverpool on the night," added McCarthy.

"To come to Anfield, keep a clean sheet and win 1-0, you could see what it meant to the fans behind the goal. And it just squeezes the league up again.

"All those who had a good result, Fulham, Blackburn, Birmingham, West Ham, who were thinking we were going down and that's us out of it, well, they've probably got to think again."

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