Wolverhampton Wanderers caretaker manager Terry Connor refused to call time on his side’s chances of avoiding relegation from the Premier League, despite a 0-0 draw at Sunderland extending their winless run to 10 matches.
Connor’s side are eight points adrift of safety with just four games remaining and their next fixture pits them against title-chasing Manchester City.
Their prospects of avoiding relegation to the Championship therefore appear bleak, but Connor will not be throwing in the towel until survival is mathematically impossible.
The former Wolves assistant is still to claim his first win since replacing Mick McCarthy, yet he claims there were positives to be drawn from his side’s spirited showing at the Stadium of Light on Saturday.
“We’ll keep going and keep fighting to the very end,” Connor said. “I asked the players to make sure we were competitive in all 38 games, so we’ll try to keep picking up points to make sure all 38 games mean something at the end of the season. The pressure’s not off because we can still stay up. It’s not impossible. Looking at it, to have all 38 games competitive is what we want and we want to get to Wigan [Athletic on the final day of the season] still with some sort of chance of staying in the league.”
Wolves were the better side against Sunderland and they would have claimed a rare victory had Simon Mignolet not made an excellent second-half save to keep out Steven Fletcher’s 81st-minute header.
Wayne Hennessey was able to celebrate a first Premier League clean sheet since the third game of the season, and despite their position at the foot of the table, there appeared little wrong with the spirit of the Wolves squad.
“The players are an honest bunch and they’ve been brought up that way,” Connor said. “They’re hard working, but of course it’s difficult with where we are in the league. Performances have been lost because of the results, but they’ve kept going. We’ve made errors at the wrong times which have cost us, but this was a good performance and we could have nicked it with a goal at the end.”
Sunderland’s best opportunity saw James McClean denied by a sharp low save from Hennessey and the hosts lacked the spark they have displayed in the majority of their matches under Martin O’Neill.
Elsewhere, Blackburn Rovers remain second bottom and they sit three points from safety after a 3-0 defeat at Swansea City.
Steve Kean’s side fell behind in the 37th minute when on-loan TSG 1899 Hoffenheim midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson struck with a swerving shot.
Nathan Dyer curled in an impressive second six minutes later and Rovers defender Scott Dann deflected Sigurdsson’s shot into his own net in the 63rd minute.
To make matters worse for Kean, Rovers were hit by injuries to Ayegbeni Yakubu, Grant Hanley and David Hoilett.
“I think Grant’s is serious, he couldn’t come back on and there’s heavy swelling,” Kean said. “We had to bring Yakubu off as a precaution, but hopefully he’ll be ready for the next game.”
Queens Park Rangers’ survival hopes suffered a setback as Mark Hughes’ side were beaten 1-0 at West Bromwich Albion.
The west Londoners thrashed Swansea in midweek, but a superb 22nd-minute goal from Scottish midfielder Graham Dorrans at The Hawthorns left them just two points above the drop zone.