Academy News

Under-17 cup campaign comes to an end

6 min read

Wolves under-17s’ Premier League Cup campaign fell short at the final hurdle as the side fought from behind against Aston Villa but were unable to claim the three points they needed to make the knockout stages.

After Birmingham City claimed a 2-0 win over West Bromwich Albion in their final match of Group B, Wolves and Villa, both tied on three points heading into the deciding fixture knew they needed a decent win to put themselves above the Blues and into top spot.

But Wolves had the worst of starts at Aggborough Stadium in Kidderminster, going behind to a pair of Villa goals, however, the coaching duo of James McPike [under-18 assistant coach] and Ian Sharps [under-16 head coach] must have worked their magic at half-time as the side in gold and black came out of the break looking like a different side.

Wolves found their way back into the tie as Josh Esen dispatched a penalty early in the second-half, which only gave the hosts impetus to go on and grab the equaliser through Nathan Fraser.

Substitute Oliver Sweeney got the move underway with a clever pass down the right-hand side to Owen Farmer who caught the Villa defence out with an early cross to Fraser who hit a one-touch finish beyond Villa keeper James Wright.

Wolves continued to push in the latter stages of the match as they went in search of a winning goal, but it wasn’t to be. With their 2-2 draw, Wolves finished the group in third place, behind Villa due to a single goal on goal difference.

REACTION

McPike felt his young squad could take credit from their performance, due to the fact that many who wore the gold and black on Wednesday night were coming up against players at least a year, and in some cases even two years, above them.

He said: “We’re a bit unfortunate not to qualify, but from the group of players we had out, we were very young, they did great.

“We started with Stan Amos in goal, as well as Stoyan Pergelov and Mo Diomode, and then we brought Oliver Sweeney and an under-15 in Caden Voice on. Caden played very well at left centre-back. He was very competitive, he wasn’t fazed by the occasion and made a very good name for himself.

“We also put another under-15 on late in the game with Fraser Harper who was another who got to grips with the speed of the game quickly and tried to make an impact, so it was another great experience for one of our younger players.

“We finished the game with two under-15s and three under-16s on the pitch, so to play better in the second-half with them on, was a credit to them with how hard they worked and the intensity they played at.

“We’ve given those boys lots of opportunities and playing the game at Aggborough, in a proper stadium, under the floodlights with a few people watching, it was a great experience for their development. They also got to experience the level and the intensity as they will find when they go up into the older age groups, which will be really beneficial.”

On fighting back in the second-half

“It was the typical saying of ‘a game of two halves’. In the first-half we weren’t quite at the races and found ourselves having to chase the game, but then in the second-half, we played really well.

“Collectively, we started the game second to a lot of things, we weren’t at the intensity and didn’t treat the game like a local derby – as we should have done – which we needed to win to get out of the group.

“We were having some difficulty in wider areas and the were playing three in midfield against our two and we needed to find a way to stop being overrun, so we added an extra body in there which helped.

“We changed a few things at half-time with the shape, going from a 3-4-3 to a 3-5-2, which helped us gain a bit more control in the centre of the pitch and we were a bit more aggressive with the wing-backs, pressing their full-backs and nullifying their threats down the side, which really helped.

“But the biggest difference was that we really had a go at them and played with greater intensity and probably did enough in the end to win the game with the chances we created, but it just wasn’t to be.”

On the future for the squad’s 14 and 15-year-olds

“There’s still the aim of the under-16s to earn themselves a scholarship for next season, and a couple of the lads who played last night will be looking at that, so we will try to put some more under-17 games on so they can show us that they deserve a scholarship.

“It’s a transition period for them now. We’ll want to get them in and around myself and Steve [Davis, under-18 head coach] as much as we can with our training.

“It’s important for us as coaches to integrate those boys who are going to be scholars next year into the squad and get them up to speed with the full-time programme before the start with us in pre-season, which will make that transition from under-16s to under-18s as smooth as possible, so they can hit the ground running next season in the same way that this year’s batch of first-year scholars have.”

COMING UP

The under-18s will be in U18 Premier League Cup action on Saturday lunchtime as the side host Birmingham City. Wolves are currently on four points from their opening two fixtures, leaving them second in the Group F table, but only behind Manchester United on goal difference.

“The lads who played last night have got to recover properly in terms of how their bodies recuperate from the match and how they fuel themselves ready to go again on Saturday,” McPike said.

“We’ll analyse some of the things from the first-half of the game to see what we can improve on, but the main thing is to look after them and prepare them in the right way so come the weekend, we’re all organised – especially out of possession – and give it a good go.

“Just like last night, we know we need to win to give ourselves the best shot of qualifying for the knockout stages, and that is what we’ll try and do on Saturday.”   

NEXT FIVE

27/11 Birmingham City (H) U18 PLC

04/12 Nottingham Forrest (H)

8/12 Salford City (H) FAYC

11/12 Manchester United (A)

08/01 Liverpool (H)

TEAMS

Wolves: Amos, Kaleta, Mabete, Diomonde, Pergelov, Esen, Francis-Burrell, Rees, Reynolds, Fraser, Farmer.

Subs: Ashworth, Sweeney, Shahar, Voice, Harper.

Villa: Wright, Barber, Munroe, Allock, Rhodes, Pavey, Softley, Pierce, Young, Lutz, Barnes.

Subs: Mitchell, Hammond, Onchukovla, McDowell.


Back to News

Other News

Every young adult is important, any player leaving us will be ready for life’s challenges whether that be in football or another profession

Scott Sellars | Head of Academy