Darren Ryan felt Chem Campbell’s sending off was the turning point in his under-18 side not being able to maintain their comeback against Wigan Athletic in the FA Youth Cup.
Wolves fell to a 2-1 loss against the Latics in front of almost 400 supporters at Molineux, following first half goals from Divin Baningime and Charlie Jolley, while Austin Samuels had got the home side back in the game straight from the kick-off following the half time break.
The under-18s were looking good for a second half comeback until midfielder Chem Campbell was shown a red card for a high foot with about 35 minutes left in the match.
Ryan said: “We were on top after we got the quick goal in the second half. In the first half I was quite happy, but you can’t make individual errors like we did for the goals. That’s been our problem the whole season.
“The only threat Wigan had before they scored was from set plays, but we knew they were going to be dangerous from them as they’ve got a lot of tall players who would overpower us. Physically, they’re probably stronger than us, and we struggled first half.
“Second half, we got the early goal and thought we were on top, and then I think Chem is really unlucky to be sent off when, looking back, I think a yellow card would have been suffice.
“There were quite a few late challenges in the first half which weren’t punished that I think were as worthy of red cards.
“I thought a couple of their challenges were really close, and if Chem deserved a red card, then so did they.
“I looked at Chem’s challenge this morning and the lad lead with his head. Chem has lifted his leg just to flick the ball on and there’s no intention at all. Chem is not that sort of player, he’s a 15-year-old boy who we’ve got big hopes for. I didn’t think it was a sending off.”
Wolves suffered a blow in the first half when dynamic midfielder Taylor Perry was stretchered off with a leg injury.
“He had an x-ray last night and at the moment we don’t think it’s a break,” Ryan said. “It’s showing up as more ligament damage, but he’s coming back in today and we’ll reassess him. It wasn’t showing a break so it’s good news, but it’s still a massive blow to us because he’s been our most consistent, probably the best player over recent weeks.
“It was a big blow, and he was the one who in the first half was probably the only player who showed a bit of aggression to compete against them.
“It was a big blow to lose Taylor and then another big blow to lose Chem as well.”
Wolves under-18s are heading to Japan on Friday for an under-17s J-League tournament featuring teams from across the world.