Development Coach Steve Weaver has praised the hard work and character shown by the Under-21 squad underpinning a second half improvement which ended Tottenham’s unbeaten run at Telford last night.
After being disappointed with the team’s first half performance which saw Spurs lead 2-0 at the break, Wolves hit back to win 4-3 and become the first team to defeat the Elite Group leaders since the leagues were restructured.
It was the third successive home game which the Under-21s have hit back late, following coming from 2-0 down to draw with Southampton and Robbie Parry’s last gasp winner accounting for West Ham.
“We were really disappointed at half time in the way that we hadn’t competed,” said Weaver.
“That wasn’t in terms of working and running out but we just didn’t seem to enjoy them putting pressure on us and we were giving the ball away.
“It wasn’t the physical side of things but just getting into the pace of the game and not being fearful of being put under pressure which happens whatever level you play at.
“It didn’t feel that we’d won any one-v-one battles either, and all of this was emphasised at half time in the way that we do.
“In the second half it was a different game.
“We had a chance and then Zeli scored a goal which was wrongly disallowed for offside before Aljaz made a good save.
“Then the last half hour was all about us.”
Wolves effectively ran out 4-1 ‘winners’ in the second half, and Weaver was particularly pleased that he nature of the goals all stemmed from work carried out on the training pitch.
There were first goals in Wolves colours for Tim Jakobsson and Lee Evans, an own goal and Sam Winnall, the winner just four minutes from time.
“What was also important was that the goals we scored came from things we had worked on in terms of doing drills and composure around the box,” he explained.
“That had been with the likes of midfield players getting shots in and that’s what happened with Tim’s first goal.
“I was really pleased with the second goal with a really good ball from Zeli which Macca (Liam McAlinden) could have tried to head towards goal but picked out Lee with a header back which is the sort of thing we have worked on.
“The substitutions made a difference as well and after Jordan Cranston – who had a really good game – went off with an injury Jamie Reckord provided some fresh legs and put in the sort of quality of cross we are asking for which resulted in the own goal.
“For the last goal we set up during the game to try and get Macca down the flanks because we knew their full backs would be advanced.
“Sam did brilliantly to pass it and the take the return from Macca and finish for the winner.
“It is really important when things that you have worked on in training work out on the pitch as it re-inforces what we are doing out there.”
Wolves have now played six games in the Elite Stage with those last three at home – two wins and a draw – providing a resurgence after defeats against Spurs, Liverpool and West Bromwich Albion.
That would suggest the Under-21s have certainly got to grips with what is a tough schedule of fixtures, but Weaver is not getting carried away given that Manchester United and Arsenal are next up!
He added: “I was very critical of the team after the first three games when we were in positions to get results and let them off the hook because we’ve been too nice.
“We were 2-1 up at Liverpool with 13 minutes to go and lost and were beaten at West Brom when we allowed them to get on the front foot.
“Our training has always been demanding but we have just re-inforced that a little bit over the last few weeks.
“I can always accept honesty and people having bad games but I can’t accept people being fearful and concerned that we are playing Spurs who are unbeaten.
“They gave me what we needed in the second half and enjoyed the physical side of it and that’s not just in terms of tackling but winning the battle against their opponent.
“If you are up against someone else at the very least you can make sure you stop them playing and in the second half we won every battle after Spurs had done that in the first.
“To come out and win the second half 4-1 against a team which has been doing well bodes well and gives the lads confidence.
“They are all tough games – we’ve got Manchester United and Arsenal next – but apart from Tottenham away when we conceded some late goals we’ve been in amongst all the games and could have had more points on the board.
“It is amazing what some hard work, determination and showing a bit of your character can get you."