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Football: Targeted Jones has Molineux agenda revised; Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 Derby County 1.

Byline: David Instone

The man who had most impact on this latest day of unfulfilment at Molineux was not even within 150 miles of the place.

Sir Jack Hayward stayed at home in Sussex, but the shockwaves of his warning shots at manager Dave Jones will reverberate round the Golden Palace for a few days yet.

Former Wolves manager Mark McGhee, in particular, will well have recognised the impassioned criticism Sir Jack heaped on his successor, even before this dog's dinner of a performance against a Derby County side down to its barest bones.

Jones sidestepped an internal slanging match last night by saying he had not read Sir Jack's remarks and would not comment, although he did not begrudge his chairman's privilege of feeling disappointed by recent events.

The agenda appears clear for the under-fire Molineux manager, though. His team have taken only two points out of the last 15, are well adrift even of sixth place and are falling fast.

If Jones wanted a show of support, his year has started badly, Sir Jack choosing to go public on the manager's promise to deliver automatic promotion if given the funds - as he was - to sign Denis Irwin, Paul Ince, Ivar Ingimarsson, Marc Edworthy and Carlton Cole.

Hayward said: 'He promised he would have us in the top six by Christmas so, good God, I am not happy.

'He has been told in no uncertain terms what is required. We have got to start winning and he knows what we have to do. We have asked him what's happening and told him we are worried about it.'

Sir Jack made it clear Jones, as with other bosses in his position, was being assessed match by match - with Newcastle next to come in Sunday's FA Cup blockbuster at Molineux.

Certainly, yesterday's match provided scant cause for optimism for Wolves fans, directors and manager alike, despite the ringing of four changes.

Back came Paul Butler, though not with a captain's armband, Shaun Newton, the fit-again Irwin and Kenny Miller.

Of the quartet, only Newton could be seen as even a moderate success, in terms of trying to win a game that was there for the taking against a Rams team further depleted when midfielder Craig Burley hurt his knee in the kick-in.

George Ndah twice went close early on, but Derby stole the lead in the 14th minute when Ince's wayward header set up a mis-hit shot by the lively Izale McLeod, which skewed across goal for West Bromwich Albion target Malcolm Christie to tap in.

That sluggish Wolves defending permeated through the rest of the team in a thoroughly disjointed display which could have been further punished had Christie not squandered a one-on-one opening, courtesy of Mark Kennedy's awful back-pass.

The edginess Wolves displayed did not spare them half-time and full-time booing. Clear openings were scarce.

Thankfully, Ince lashed a beauty past Lee Grant from 20 yards for the 66thminute equaliser after Colin Cameron's shot had struck Ndah.

Cameron's off-target shot in injury time was just about Wolves' only other effort and Jones has anxious times ahead, even if he is justified in claiming his players were high on commitment.

Scorers: Christie (15) 0-1, Ince 66 (1-0) WOLVERAMPTON WANDERERS (4-4-2): Murray; Irwin,

Butler, Lescott, Naylor; Newton, Cameron, Ince, Kennedy; Miller, Ndah (Cole 78). Subs: Oakes, Rae, Cooper, Clyde.

DERBY COUNTY (4-4-2): Grant; Mills, Elliott, Riggott, Barton; Adam Murray, Bolder, Evatt, Morris (Holmes 76); Christie, McLeod. Subs: Boertien, Oakes, Tudgay, Jackson.

Referee: N Barry (N Lincs) Bookings: Wolves - Butler (tackle), Kennedy (dissent); Derby - Christie (tackle), Elliott (professional foul), Bolder (tackle).

Attendance: 26,442 Wolves man of the match: Paul Ince - kept going and scored a gem of a goal.

Newcastle will reject any bid by Wolves for striker Carl Cort. The two clubs meet in the third round of the FA Cup on Sunday and Wolves manager Dave Jones is keen to bring in new firepower to boost promotion hopes.

Newcastle manager Sir Bobby Robson said: 'David Jones wants Carl Cort, but he's not getting him. I might let one or two of our younger players go now the transfer window has opened, but I am hanging on to most of our players.'

CAPTION(S):

Derby County's Izale McLeod (left) and Wolves defender Paul Butler clash in yesterday's Nationwide League First Division match at Molineux
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jan 2, 2003
Words:724
Previous Article:Football: Impressive Swifts have New Year Ball; DR MARTENS WESTERN.
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