Wolves boss Mick McCarthy regrets missed opportunity

Birmingham boss Alex McLeish (left) and Wolves boss Mick McCarthy
McCarthy (right) is predicting a nervy end to the season

Wolves manager Mick McCarthy admitted his team wasted a good chance to climb out of the Premier League relegation zone at Birmingham.

McCarthy's side played against 10 men for more than an hour after the dismissal of Craig Gardner but were held to a 1-1 draw.

"It is a missed opportunity against 10 men," said McCarthy, whose team are one point behind fourth-bottom Blackpool.

"I still think the relegation battle will go to the last day of the season."

Wolves, Birmingham, Blackpool and Wigan all picked up points over the weekend, while Blackburn defeated Bolton.

McCarthy's team are 19th in the table, two points above West Ham and one below Wigan and Blackpool but had they held on to the lead at St Andrew's they would have moved up to 17th.

Wolves took the lead at St Andrew's when Steven Fletcher struck from the penalty spot after seven minutes following a foul on Stephen Ward by Ben Foster.

Sebastian Larsson equalised for Blues after a mistake by defender Michael Mancienne on 27 minutes.

But they lost Gardner shortly afterwards when he picked up his second yellow card.

The first booking came after he reacted to a challenge from Jamie O'Hara and his second was for simulation as Wolves defender Jody Craddock closed in on him.

"Craig dived," said Birmingham boss Alex McLeish. "He already had a booking and that leaves you treading on thin ice.

"But I was thinking he was diving to get out of the way because he had been booted about three or four times just before that.

"A Richard Stearman tackle on him on the edge of the box never got a booking and then O'Hara caught him.

"I think he was diving to get out of the way but we don't condone the diving element and especially when you are on a yellow card.

"I was more annoyed at the first yellow card Craig got. It put him under pressure by reacting to a tackle.

"You've got to let the referee deal with these things."

The draw put Birmingham on 39 points, four above third-from-bottom Wigan with three games of the season left, but the Blues boss does not believe that his team are now safe.

"We have got to keep going for more points," said the Scot.

"We are not relaxing, that is for sure. We have got to keep working hard and giving the same type of hard-working performance."

Wolves introduced attacking midfielder Adam Hammill for defender Stearman at the start of the second half but the visiting team struggled to create any clear-cut openings against a resilient and well-drilled opposition.

"Birmingham are good at playing with two banks of four and we did not have what was necessary to pick a hole in it," commented McCarthy.

"We did not have any great chances despite having an extra man for an hour.

"But if I had looked at the four games left and thought we could get a point away from home, I'd not be unhappy and then we've got to do the job at home in the remaining games."

Wolves face a match against another local rival in West Brom at Molineux in their next fixture and then play Sunderland (away) and Blackburn (home).

"People look at other teams and where they might drop points but unless we win our games it will not make a blind bit of difference," stated McCarthy.

"The thought of letting people down appals me and I do not want to do that."