Captain Ollie Tipton’s fifth penalty in as many games helped Wolves to a draw in their opening fixture of the inaugural Under-17 Premier League Cup away at Derby County.
Tyler Roberts was fouled as he raced through on goal following a quick counter-attack by the young Wolves side, with defender Tipton once again making no mistake from the spot to give his side a 1-0 lead heading into the break.
However, Wolves, who spurned two great opportunities from a pair of corners to enhance their lead, were pegged back when Derby were awarded a penalty of their own which was dispatched. With the game ending all-square, it means Wolves will take a point into their second match of the U17 PL Cup group stage against West Bromwich Albion next month.
Coach Darren Ryan, who made four changes from the side which beat Leeds United 2-0 on Saturday afternoon, was pleased with the performances of his young players, but knows there is still plenty of improvements to be made, especially in the final third of the pitch.
On beginning the PL Cup with a draw at the Rams
“It was a really good game and having played them two weeks ago in the league, they changed their system to match us up, so it was a really good tactical game," Ryan said. “We went 1-0 up and 'Tippo' scored a penalty again. We had a really compact shape and broke on the counter, with Tyler going through and their lad took him down.
“I don’t think it was a game with many clear-cut chances, but we had some really good opportunities in the attacking third, although we’ve got to commit more bodies forward when we do break. Our build-up play was really good, but we need to continue working on that last bit.
“I’m pleased with many aspects of the game, but there were missed opportunities. We had two great chances in the second-half from corners. We spoke about that before, because in games like this, they are the fine details and can win you the game. These were great opportunities from two great corners where we had two free headers and didn’t take them.
“The higher up you go; under-18s, under-23s, first-team football, these are the fine details that we’ve got to take when they come to us and be more ruthless with our opportunities.”
On first starts for Brown and Barnett
“We made a few changes to the team, with two first-year scholars in Kam Kandola and Amarie Brown coming in, as well as two 15-year-olds in Ty Barnet and Temple Ojinnaka, who missed out on Saturday because he was injured.
“It was good for Amarie and Ty to get their first starts, but Amarie was physically struggling in the second-half so we had to make a change and bring him off, but they both did well. They’re used to the system, but they still have to get used to the physical demands of the game.
“Ty’s had a little bit of bad luck after getting injured in pre-season. He’s only 15, but he stepped up in pre-season, got injured, and has had to self-isolate a couple of times, so he’s had a stop-start season so far, which hasn’t helped him.
“We know he’s got a lot of potential – he’s played for England – but it was good for him to get a full game into his legs, which is something we were really pleased with. Now it’s just about getting his minutes up and push for an under-18s starting position, but it’s going to take time as we have to build his match fitness up first.
“It’s the same with Amarie, these under-17 games are good opportunities to get some minutes. Training is one thing but stepping into the team when they’re not used to the physical demands of under-18s games is completely different, so we try to arrange as many under-17 friendlies as we can.”
The under-18s are not back in league action until a week on Saturday when they face Liverpool in a 11.30am kick-off at the Sir Jack Hayward Training Ground, but the younger members of the squad will have the chance to get some much-needed minutes when they take on Rob Edwards’ England under-16s at St George’s Park this weekend.
On testing themselves against England
“We’re always in contract with Rob and are all still really close with him from his time at the Academy," Ryan added, "and he's given our lads an opportunity to go and play at St Georges’ Park against the under-16s.
“We’ll be sending our under-17s down, as well as a few of our schoolboys, such as Mason Rees. He’s only 14, but he came on for us last night against Derby and played well, so it’s a great opportunity for our young players to experience playing against a national team.”
07/11 Liverpool (H)
21/11 Sunderland (A)
25/11 West Bromwich Albion (H) U17 PLC
28/11 Middlesbrough (H)
12/12 Manchester United (H)
Derby: Randle, Jinkinson, Williams, Ibrahim, Bardell, Ryan, Brailsford, Sebagabo, Brown, Rogers, Borkovic.
Subs: Moore, Roberts, Kellyman, Sharpe, Delap.
Wolves: O’Shaughnessy, Birtwistle, Kandola, Tipton, Hubner, Lembikisa, Scicluna, Ojinnaka, Brown, Barnett, Roberts.
Subs: Storer, Francis-Burrell, Bugarin, Rees.