By Ryan Plant
Wolves Under-18s beat Manchester United 3-2 at Compton Park but narrowly missed on on qualification for the next round of the Premier League Cup.
Two goals from Austin Samuels and Joel Whittingham’s second-half header handed Darren Ryan’s Wolves their first victory since September. The hosts missed out on finishing top of Group F by one goal and also missed out on best second place by the same margin.
Samuels was a menace to United’s defence from the outset; after ten minutes, he raced past three United players on a twisting, turning run that began in his own half before seeing his cross blocked by Brandon Williams with Brad Carr free at the back post.
After sustained pressure in the visitors’ territory, Wolves went ahead midway through the first half. Captain Dan McKenna’s lofted through pass put Carr through on goal. The winger selflessly passed to Samuels, giving the striker the chance to finish into an empty net.
Under five minutes later, it was 2-0. Samuels chased Whittingham’s long pass down the left side, before cutting in past right-back to George Tanner to fire home under United keeper Theo Richardson.
Wolves deservedly went into the half-time break ahead and, moments after the restart, extended their lead to 3-0. Whittingham rose highest in a crowded penalty area to head Taylor Perry’s cross in off the underside of the bar.
The hosts had chances to increase their lead even further. First, Richardson dropped Terry Taylor’s cross inside the six-yard box but, luckily for him, centre-back Teden Mengi got to the loose ball first to clear.
After tackling Mengi’s partner Bernard on the halfway line, Perry countered and teed up Ryan Giles on the edge of the area. His goal-bound shot was blocked, and Perry failed to convert the rebound.
United substitute D’Mani Mellor, against the run of play, scored a sublime goal to give the visitors a chance. He flicked the ball over onrushing Wolves defender Daniel Csoka before dribbling into the area to fire low and hard across goalkeeper Jackson Smith with 20 minutes left.
United committed bodies forward, allowing Wolves the chance to counter. Substitute Callum Thompson played Samuels clean through; the latter crossed for Carr, with the roles reversed from the first goal, but the winger blazed over.
Richardson saved well onto his post from Owen Otasowie’s fierce effort from the edge of the area and, almost immediately after, Mason Greenwood headed in for United to set up a tense finish. Wolves though held on to win – a brilliant achievement having lost to the Red Devils 6-1 earlier in the season.
After the match, manager Ryan said: “Our game management in the first stages of the game I thought was excellent. To go two goals ahead was obviously a big bonus.
“I thought we showed a lot of both bravery and maturity. They were a brilliant team, and had some fantastic players, so this will give everyone a confidence boost going into the Southampton game.”