3 min read
8th Feb 2024
Women’s under-21s manager Darel Tidman-Poole has offered her mid-season reflections after taking over the squad in the summer.
Tidman-Poole was appointed the club’s first under-21 manager after a shift which saw the reserve team rebranded as under-21s this season, however still competing in the Reserve Midland Division.
“We wanted to bring together a squad of players who demonstrated potential to, one day, progress to the first team,” Tidman-Poole said.
“With an average age of 17, we have achieved our desire to bring in young players, with plenty to learn and develop in order to be successful at this level and also the level above. For me personally, this position posed an exciting challenge; to develop players to make the step up to tier three first-team football.
“The season started as a bit of an unknown for this group. The squad is made up of RTC graduates and players who are new to the club and the environment that we have here at Wolves. This in itself has meant we have had to adapt and adjust together as a group, in what was a short pre-season.”
Wolves under-21s are currently placed in fourth position, having lost just one of their opening 10 league games, while progression into the semi-finals of the Reserve Cup has also been confirmed. Tidman-Poole has continued by speaking on the progression made throughout the season and the overall aim of producing players for the first-team which has already come to fruition with Ania Denham, Hollie Bailey and Elise Stocking making their senior debuts this campaign.
Stepping on for her first-team debut in the @AdobeWFACup as a 16-year-old
Yesterday was a proud day. Congratulations, Elise Stocking pic.twitter.com/iVVk8RiAbe
— Wolves Women FC (@WolvesWomen) December 18, 2023
“Off the back of a challenging pre-season fixture programme, the season kicked off with the tough visit of Peterborough, another young side, branded as under-23s and looking to make an impact on the league. After some very positive football, dominating the game and leading by two, the game concluded as a 2-2 draw. It was from that point that this young group with bags of potential realised the real challenge ahead of them and the realities of playing open age football. We showed naivety and inexperience and ultimately lost two points, rather than gaining one.
“This was a launch pad for the players, and they all committed to improving rapidly in the areas that we collectively identified. This led to convincing performances and victories against Sporting Khalsa, Stourbridge, Stoke City and Lincoln. We have been tested against current league leaders, Derby, and unfortunately came out on the wrong end of the result, however we also managed to grind out a result when not at our best against Sutton Coldfield Town.
“These performances leave us at the top end of the table shortly after Christmas. As pleasing as this is, it was never the overall goal. This group will not be judged on results or league positions, but instead on progressions to the first-team squad. At this point of the season, we have had three players make first-team debuts, most recently in the FA Cup third round fixture, and a further three players have made a first-team match day squad. This is a fantastic reflection of the work that the players are putting in on the training field and on matchdays, and I am sure as the season progresses, more of the U21 squad will get their opportunity.”