Under 23s

Under-23 report | West Brom 2-2 Wolves (5-4 pens)

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West Brom 2 (Castro 10, Faal 108) Wolves 2 (Harkin 30, Bueno 99) | 5-4 on pens

James Collins’ under-23s gave everything in a fiesty West Midlands derby which doubled up as the PL Cup final at the Hawthorns, but having been pegged back from a winning position in extra-time, were beaten in the shootout, despite Andreas Sondergaard saving three Albion kicks.

It was West Brom who’d taken an early lead when Quevin Castro converted from close range, but Wolves had the perfect response as Lee Harkin nodded in Hugo Bueno’s pin-point cross. From that point the visitors dominated, and thought they’d won it in injury time, but Dexter Lembikisa was denied at the near post.  

Into extra time, it was another goal apiece, as the entertainment refused to let up. Bueno’s individual brilliance had Wolves ahead for the first time, as his solo run was finished by a brilliantly drilled finish, but Modou Faal turned home from a long throw to drag the hosts right back into the tie.

So, the tie went to penalties, which proved a step too far for Collins’ side. Sondergaard did what he could for the team with three big saves in the shootout, but after 16 penalties between them, Wolves were out of luck as Christian Marques struck the crossbar and Ethan Ingram rolled in the decisive kick.

It was an atmosphere fitting of a final, with around 2,000 Wolves supporters returning to the Hawthorns for the first time in 11 years, and their backing provided an invaluable experience for the youngsters, despite the early set back. Once Albion winger Tom Fellows got down the right, his cross caused confusion in the Wolves box, and Castrot got in ahead of Marques to turn in off the underside of the crossbar.

The response was a positive one from the visitors, however. Instantly after that disappointment, Chem Campbell stung the palms of Ted Cann in the Baggies goal, while moments later Luke Cundle’s smart turn worked him into an appealing position, but rather than shooting, he fed Campbell, who was unprepared and unable to bring under his spell.

Those chances were simply warning signs however, and on the half-hour mark, Wolves got their leveller. Bueno was played in down the left, and once he looked up and perfectly picked out Harkin in the middle, the attacker did the rest, guiding his second header in as many games back where it came from, beyond Cann.

Half-time | West Brom 1-1 Wolves

The second-half began as the first ended, with Wolves on top. 55 minutes were on the clock when Harkin picked the pockets of Caleb Taylor and sent Cundle clean through, but as he decided if to shoot or pass to the overlapping Yerson Mosquera, the Albion defence got back to block, and ensure Harvey Griffiths’ effort would fail to hit the target.

Campbell charges down the left were a theme of the second period, but on each occasion when he arrived there, he was crowded out before getting a shot away. Then, with time running out, the energetic Joe Hodge made his way into the box and opted to pass, rather than shoot and it came to nothing, as Wolves’ fitness began to tell with their dominance.

Hodge was becoming more and more influential as the game wore on and a charging run appeared to create a dramatic injury time winner, but after he slipped in Lembikisa, the wing-back fired towards the near post and had his powerful drive turned around the post, as the final moved into extra time.

Full-time | West Brom 1-1 Wolves

Bueno has been making a name for himself on the goal scoring front in recent weeks, but he saved his best for extra time of the PL Cup final. When the Spaniard picked the ball up midway through the Albion half, little looked on, but once he skipped between two challenges, he was into the area, and a pair of stepovers gained him a further advantage, before the wing-back drilled low across goal and into the corner.

However, if Wolves thought the job was done, the second period of extra time showed it was far from it. From a long throw, Albion won the first header through Taylor and Faal’s acrobatic effort bounced in off the post to beat Sondergaard and bring the final back level once more.

Few players on the pitch would have played at such an intensity for so long, and as time wore on, it began to show. With four minutes left on the clock, Wolves did flurry forward with an attack led by Cundle, and as he played in substitute Meritan Shabani, his cut back created an opening for Taylor Perry, but the midfielder shot over on the fall.

Extra-time full-time | West Brom 2-2 Wolves

Penalties:

  • 0-1 | Campbell (WOL) scores
  • 1-1 | Andrews (WBA) scores
  • 1-2 | Hodge (WOL) scores
  • 1-2 | Malcolm (WBA) misses
  • 1-2 | Perry (WOL) misses
  • 1-2 | Richards (WBA) misses
  • 1-2 | Cundle (WOL) misses
  • 2-2 | Ashworth (WBA) misses
  • 2-2 | Shabani (WOL) misses
  • 2-2 | Faal (WBA) misses
  • 3-2 | Hubner (WOL) scores
  • 3-3 | Teixeira (WBA) scores
  • 4-3 | Mosquera (WOL) scores
  • 4-4 | Taylor (WBA) scores
  • 4-4 | Marques (WOL) misses
  • 5-4 | Ingram (WBA) scores

COMING UP

There’s another huge fixture on the horizon for James Collins’ side on Tuesday, as they head into the semi-final of the play-offs, where they’ll host Norwich City at Molineux. The old gold finished the regular campaign with victory at Carrow Road, so will want a repeat performance to help them into the final, where they’d face either Stoke City or Nottingham Forest.

TEAMS

West Brom | Cann, Ingram, Ashworth, Hall (Williams 117), Taylor, Nguepissi, Fellows (Richards 70), Teixeira, Faal, Castro (Malcolm 81), Andrews.

Unused subs | Richards, Hollingshead.

Wolves | Sondergaard, Lembikisa (Birtwistle 112), Bueno, Mosquera, Hubner, Cundle, Griffiths (Perry 74), Harkin (Shabani 96), Hodge, Campbell.

Unused subs | Tipton, Hesketh.


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