A FULL-STRENGTH Wolves side managed to avoid a tricky replay with League One Tranmere thanks to Matt Jarvis’s late goal that put his team through to an FA Cup fourth-round tie with Crystal Palace.
Mick McCarthy would surely have laid himself open to the fury of the masses if he had put out a second team for the replay, which would have come between vital games against fellow strugglers West Ham and Wigan, but Jarvis’ cool finish avoided yet another debate. McCarthy is still baffled by the fall-out from his decision to rest players for last month’s trip to Manchester United but insists that he would relish a long cup run.
“I don’t have any qualms about a cup run,” he said. “We have 38 games to play and everybody talks about my team selection but I pick the squad and pick the team to win the games and we’ve had a nice little run. “If we’ve got a game on Saturday and a replay and a big game on Saturday in the Premiership then I might mix my squad up and I might think about the game like all these big-name managers do and never seem to be disrespecting the competition. Only me, eh? What a load of tosh that is.”
Playing with purpose, Tranmere unsettled Wolves throughout the opening period, regularly testing goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey. Gareth Edds forced a save from the Welshman in the early stages but Tranmere showed their quality with a quick breakaway just before the half-hour.
Karl Henry clipped a cross into the area that was flicked on by Chris Iwelumo, only for Jarvis to miss the target from just over six yards out. Wolves emerged for the second period with far greater purpose and finally opened the League One side up when Stephen Ward’s whipped cross from the left was met by the head of Sylvan Ebanks-Blake but Luke Daniels pulled off a fine one-handed save to keep his team on level terms.
Tranmere’s threat subsided significantly after the break but they went close again when Terry Gornell just beat Hennessey to Edds’ lob forward but, with Ward covering, he hit his shot against the post. But all that effort was wasted when the hosts were carved open by Milijas’ through-ball and Jarvis scored low past Daniels.
“If you can ever take confidence Tranmere Rovers’ Ash Taylor (right) and Wolves’ Chris Iwelumo fly for a high ball from defeat than you can from this,” Tranmere manager Les Parry said. “We matched them all the way to the end, we will take confidence from it and they could have battered us but that never happened.”
Tranmere (4-3-3): Daniels; Logan, Goodison, Taylor, Bakayogo; Edds, Welsh (Ricketts, 84), McLaren; Curran, Thomas-Moore, Gornell (Shuker, 84). Substitutes not used: Cresswell, Broomes, Collister, Barnett, Fraughan.
Wolves (4-4-2): Hennessey; Stearman, Craddock, Mancienne, Ward; Foley, Henry, Milijas (Halford, 89), Jarvis; Iwelumo (Vokes, 76), Ebanks-Blake (Elokobi, 89). Substitutes not used: Surman, Hahnemann, Jones, Zubar.
Referee: L Probert (Bristol).
Booked: Wolves Milijas.
Man of the Match: Milijas.