Under 23s

Collins | On ‘nicking’ three points at Newcastle and a need for improvements

5 min read

James Collins felt his under-23s side ‘nicked’ three points they might not have deserved with an 89th minutes winner on the road at Newcastle United.

Conor Carty struck late after Newcastle had fought back having found themselves two goals down from Michael Agboola – his first in Wolves colours – and Harry Birtwistle. But having lost the previous week against Southampton when he believed his team were the better side, Collins was pleased with the outcome in the north east.

On the ups and downs of football

“Even though we didn’t play brilliantly last week, I thought we deserved to win the game with our chances. Maybe tonight, we’ve nicked one that was a draw.

“That’s football, you get your ups and downs with that, but we’ve worked on our finishing all week, worked on getting balls into the box, because we looked at our stats and we’d have something like 60 crosses into the box in our eight games, and our first-team had doubled that, and Liverpool had had about 200-odd – treble ours.

“We talked about if we could get more in there, can we get more dangerous balls in there, instead of playing tippy-tappy football, and I thought we did that tonight and get the breaks in the box that happens when you get the ball in there.

“What we’ve still got to do is get the balance right between playing good football and play realistic football; get the ball into the dangerous areas where we can cause problems.”

On snatching the three points

“I thought we started poorly again. We’ve done so much work this week on not starting poorly, and I still thought it was a slow start from us and they were really energetic.

“We knew it was going to be a tough night, but we got the goal, which helps, and by end of the half, we’d got into it well and looked like we might be ok.

“I knew it was going to be a hard second-half, but I thought we did much better, got the second goal, but as soon as that went in, I knew it wasn’t over and there was a lot left in the game.

“When you’ve got balls coming in from Jonjo Shelvey, we were under the cosh. For a lot of it, we stood up well, but we conceded two quick goals, which meant it was going to be a long half-an-hour then because momentum was with them.

“Then it was even for the rest of the game. They tired from their press, we managed to get around them, created some moments, but I still felt we could easily concede and lose the game, so to nick it at the end was enjoyable.”

On improvements still needed

“I’m delighted to come all this way and get the result, but it doesn’t hide the fact we’ve got a lot of things to work on.

“When we talked about having a better start, we did a lot of work on not taking risks so early on, picking up second-balls, and there’s a lot of skill with that. We didn’t quite get that right early on, it was a bit rushed and hurried and our balls forward weren’t great.

“That went on for longer than we wanted, so 25 minutes in, we hadn’t played much football. What we said to them at half-time is that we didn’t come all this way to watch them whack the ball 60 yards up the pitch, we want them to play some football.

“We did that in the second-half, without being perfect, I thought we played a little more football and proved more of a threat with our attacking moves.”

On Louie Moulden’s goalkeeping display

“He was good tonight, but what I say to the goalie coach is, ‘That’s his job.’ I don’t mean that in a disrespectful way, because I thought he was excellent. My point is, like all of them, he’s got to stand up and be counted, and he did tonight.

“Part of that win is that he made two or three really good saves. He’s a good goalkeeper and that’s what he’s there to do. The standards we set for them, is that we want them to do that more often; when we’re under the cosh, can he save the day?

“He did tonight, and I thought he came for one really dangerous cross at the end, which was bouncing around, so he did some really good things tonight.”

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