Everton 2 (Hope 59, Grant 77)
Luck was against the Molineux youngsters as they opened up their Barclays Under 21s League season with a 2-0 defeat against Everton at The Bucks Head. Visiting keeper Mateusz Taudul was in inspired form although three home goals were wiped out by the offside flag.
With less than a minute gone Liam McAlinden powered a shot over the Everton bar. When the Merseysiders went forward, Michael Ihiekwe cleared from in front of his own goal after a short cross from Christopher Long.
On five minutes a precision through ball from Jack Price found Sam Whittall on the edge of the Everton box. His first time shot drew an excellent save from the keeper.
Taudul then had to tip over a 25-yard effort from Price that was arrowing towards the roof of the net. The promptings of Jamie O’Hara coupled with the energy of Price, Anthony Forde and Robbie Parry was causing plenty of concern for the visitors although goal attempts for either side were minimal.
Whittall almost made the breakthrough in the 25th minute as he took a short through ball from O’Hara and turned only for Taudul to make another excellent save.
Jamie Reckord looked to have suffered a rib injury and he was replaced by Jordan Cranston with half an hour played.
Although Wolves had enjoyed the better of things, Jon Flatt’s goal had an incredible escape in the 39th minute as Long’s shot hit the post and rolled across the line and hit the other post before being cleared.
The ball was booted upfield to McAlinden who was hauled down by Matthew Pennington who was the last man. He escaped with a yellow card as the incident took place wide on the right. At the same time Ihiekwe was booked retrospectively for an earlier foul.
Shortly before the beak O’Hara chipped the ball narrowly wide of the far post after he had taken a pass from McAlinden.
Half-Time: Wolves 0 Everton 0
After Whittall had a goal ruled out for offside there was a moment of danger when Everton full-back Ibou Touray beat two men and took the ball to the by-line before hitting a low cross into the goalmouth that Ethan Ebanks-Landell managed to clear from inside a congested six-yard box.
Taudul saved a long-range effort from Parry before Everton moved into a 59th minute lead. Flatt brilliantly saved Hallum Hope’s header after a cross from Matthew Kennedy but the keeper stood no chance as Hope latched onto the rebound and forced the ball home.
Flatt did well to keep out and angled drive from Long, and Pennington got back to get in a challenge after McAlinden had chased Whittall’s through ball into the box.
It took a reflex save from Taudul to keep out Ebanks-Landell’s header after a cross from O’Hara, then Price thumped a dipping 25-yarder onto the bar and Whittall followed up to net only to be ruled offside.
Everton went two up in the 77th minute after John Lundstram had been fouled a yard outside the home area. Conor Grant tapped the free-kick to Kennedy who teed it up for his teammate to smash home a tremendous shot.
Wolves continued to press in the dying minutes. Ihiekwe headed narrowly wide after another O’Hara cross, McAlinden drew a full length save from Taudul with a low drive and substitute Tim Jakobsson had a header cleared off the line and a shot saved low down by the keeper.
But, in the end, Everton took the points with them back up the M6 to the north west.
Wolves: Flatt, Kostrna, Reckord (Cranston 31), O’Hara, Ihiekwe (capt), Ebanks-Landell, Forde, Price, McAlinden, Whittall, Parry (Jakobsson 85).
Unused subs: Margreitter, Dutton, Moli.
Everton: Taudul, Kenny, Touray, Junior (Ledson 83), Browning, Pennington, Kennedy, Grant, Hope (Duffus 83), Lundstram, Long.
Unused subs: Springthorpe, McLaughlin, Jones.
Referee: N. Radford.