by Ryan Plant
Darren Ryan’s Wolves-Under 18s drew 5-5 with Derby County in an exciting Premier League U18 North fixture at Derby’s Football Academy.
Wolves, after a three-week break from league football, started poorly and found themselves two goals behind inside the first ten minutes. They recovered, and went into the half-time break ahead at 3-2, before letting a 5-3 lead slip to tie at 5-5.
Derby are now in unbeaten in their last six league games, dating back to a loss to table-toppers Manchester United, and continued their good form that has seen them rise to third in the table early on.
Louie Sibley’s cross was deflected into the path of Jason Knight, who finished well on the edge of the area. Just four minutes later it was 2-0, as midfielder Morgan Whittaker scored from close range.
Wolves however created good chances from the outset. Opportunities came and went for captain Dan McKenna, Terry Taylor and Austin Samuels in the early stages of the first half.
Ryan’s side were eventually rewarded. Samuels smartly turned the ball in at the near post from Ryan Giles’ low cross on the half hour after some sustained pressure in Derby’s half.
Wolves’ dominance soon led to an equaliser as Dan Csoka superbly found Brad Carr with a cross-field pass. The latter’s touch took the ball away from Derby’s left-back, giving him the chance to finish under goalkeeper Sam French.
Max Bird had an excellent chance for Derby at the back post from a Sibley corner which he failed to convert. Almost straight after, Wolves found themselves ahead for the first time.
Taylor Perry scored superbly from a well-executed corner routine. McKenna’s low cross was met by the forward, who struck a shot first time into the roof of the next from the edge of the area to fire Wolves deservedly ahead.
When Samuels scored his second to make it 4-2 to Wolves at the start of the second half, the away side were in control, especially as shortly afterwards French saved well from a low Csoka header.
Arguably against the run of play, Knight broke through to score his second past Wolves keeper Harry Beasley to reduce the home side’s deficit.
Though, almost immediately, Wolves restored their two-goal lead. Perry scored his second of the game straight after the restart by firing low under French as he dribbled into the area past Derby captain Fuseine Rashid.
Derby refused to be beaten however, with Jayden Mitchell-Lawson notching the game’s fourth goal in ten minutes with a fine curling effort from the edge of the area to set up a tense finish.
Wolves continued to come under pressure. Beasley saved well from a fierce Mitchell-Lawson volley and from a long-range strike from Whittaker, but he was unable to stop substitute Adam Davie’s shot from inside the six-yard box after the striker was found by Whittaker from the right.
After the game, Wolves manager Ryan said: “I am pleased, but also frustrated. I was disappointed that we gave them a two-goal lead but how we battled back shows great character from this group.
“From the 2-0 deficit we eventually got ourselves into a good position. I think at 4-2 we were in control but mistakes have cost us today.”
Ryan’s Wolves are next in action against Stoke City against Compton Park on Saturday.