Wolves 2 (Hesketh 17, Harkin 82) Middlesbrough 1 (Willis 26)
Goals from Owen Hesketh and Lee Harkin ensured Wolves claimed all three points as they beat Middlesbrough 2-1 in the U18 Premier League North on Saturday.
A late Harkin header was the difference at the Sir Jack Hayward Training Ground as Steve Davis’ side continued their recent winning ways.
It was Harkin’s driven cross which Hesketh controlled expertly to fire home after 20 minutes, but the visitors were able to respond not long after courtesy of a 20-yard wonder strike from Pharrell Willis.
The match intensified shortly after, being more of a tactical battle with chances at either end. Dylan Scicluna was the closest to adding to the scoring before half time, with his half volley cannoning off the frame of the Boro goal.
The visitors had a good chance to go in front straight after the interval, but Justin Hubner was on hand to provide a last-ditch clearance after Wolves were caught outnumbered on the break.
Just past the hour mark, Wolves had a golden opportunity to take the lead. Jack Hodnett’s perfectly weighted pass put Harkin through on goal, but Middlesbrough keeper Max Metcalfe did well to stop the striker rounding him.
With just minutes to spare however Wolves found their winner. Hesketh’s deflected free kick fell to Harkin in the six-yard box, nodding it past Metcalfe to score the goal he had sought after all afternoon.
Head Coach Steve Davis gave his verdict on the match which saw Wolves dig deep to find a late winner.
He said: “I thought it was a good game to watch. Both teams fought really hard to try and win the game. They are a good side with a similar system to the way we play, so it felt like a chess match at times.
“I was really pleased we scored late on again. We got lucky on the free kick and it fell nicely to Lee [Harkin] in the box, his efforts today deserved a goal.
“A draw would have been a fair result, but we did have a number of chances to score so it was good to get the goal late on.”
Davis also reflected on his sides recent good form as of late, winning six of their last seven fixtures: “I think it’s been down to lots of hard work, we’re constantly trying to get better. It’s up to the players to commit to training and they have. They’re good lads who always want to improve and learn, which is the key to it all really.”
Although Wolves’ recent form is something to be celebrated Davis insisted that it isn’t the most important factor in his side’s development.
He added: “What we’re looking for as coaches is consistency in performance. Results are irrelevant. It’s whether the players are doing the right things and working well as a team that matters.
“Over the last few games we’ve been performing really well, so now we’ve got to keep getting better and keep growing.”
Wolves will travel to Finch Farm to face Everton next Saturday (5th December) as they look to continue their unbeaten streak to add another three points to their tally in the U18 Premier League North.
05/12 Everton (A)
12/12 Manchester United (H)
09/01 Newcastle United (H)
20/01 Aston Villa (H) U17PLC
23/01 Burnley (H)
Wolves: Arinbjornsson, Birtwistle, Kandola, Tipton, Hubner, Lembikisa, Hesketh, Scicluna, Hodnett, Barnett, Harkin.
Subs: O’Shaughnessy, McLeod, Mabete, Bugarin, Keto-Diyawa.
Middlesbrough: Metcalfe, Gitau, Marshall, Hannah, Nelson, Whelan, Doherty, Stott, Coburn, Willis, John.
Subs: Popple, Simpson, Beals, Waites, Howe.
By Jack Shannon