Wolves 1 (Tipton 79) Stoke 1 (Knowles 40)
Oliver Tipton converted from the penalty spot late in the second-half to salvage a point for Wolves under-18s in a tight encounter with Stoke City at St George's Park.
It was the substitute Tyler Roberts who changed the game for Wolves as he used his pace and trickery to get in behind Stoke's defence and win the penalty, as his pace proved too much for the Stoke goalkeeper, who brought him down inside the box.
Roberts arguably should have been awarded a penalty prior to the one which was given. Again, a long ball for Roberts to chase resulted in a Stoke defender bringing down the rapid striker. The City defender missed the ball and made heavy contact with Roberts' foot and the youngster, who has only just come back from injury, let out a scream, but the referee waved play on.
The first-half saw few chances for either side, but Wolves did enjoy an impressive passage of play after half an hour's play. Birtwistle’s lung-busting run down the right-wing allowed him to put in a deep ball for Aaron Keto-Diyawa at the back post. He met the ball with a well-timed header, but the Stoke goalkeeper was aware of the danger and made a good save at his near post.
On the brink of half-time, Stoke's Ted Cargill played a ball for Sam Knowles to strike which deflected off a Wolves defender and into the back of the net. There was not much Joe Young could have done to prevent the strike from beating him, the deflection came late and gave him no chance.
However, Wolves fought back to earn a point and, for Steve Davis' side, was their first point of the year and secured two successive draws.
On a tough first half
"I thought in the first-half they were better than us," Davis said. "We struggled to get a foothold in the game, and it was more about determination and getting the second balls, which they did better than us. We struggled to get any sort of control and we tried to change things, particularly in the first-half to try and get an advantage.
"We didn't play through the midfield very well, but we used the width well. We just couldn't make the most of the opportunities when we got into those dangerous areas. We spent a lot of the time on our back-foot and we played too safe, when you do that you invite the pressure."
On the result and performance
"I'd like to think that it is [a fair result]. I think in the first-half they had control and dominated us, but the second-half was a bit more even. I'm just pleased to get something out of it, I'm more disappointed with the performance than the result. In development football, I'd have liked them to put what we do in practice into the game and we didn't do that enough today.”
On Roberts’ return
“We've missed him. He's full of energy, he's quick, strong and he only has one thought which is to head for the goal. He does what defenders hate, he keeps running and running at them. He's been injured for two or three weeks but he was key to changing the game.
"I thought that was more of a penalty than the one we were given! Either way, it evened itself out but what Tyler did was commit the defenders into making a challenge. Because of his pace, he makes defenders make those tackles and he wins us lots of penalties. He's got the drive and determination to get their first."
Davis' team will face Aston Villa on Wednesday night in the U17 Premier League Cup and he has decisions to make as to who he will involve in the squad: "Well we can play three over age players plus a keeper that is also over age. So, we'll look at the squad and we have quite a few drop-ins since we came back from January which has made it tough to keep players on the pitch.
"We've had the schoolboys in to try and increase the numbers and competition. We'll analyse the game and then prepare for the game on Wednesday. We need to win to get through and hopefully, we can do better than today."
17/02 Aston Villa (A) U17 PLC
20/02 Derby County (A)
24/02 Manchester City (H)
27/02 Leeds United (A)
06/03 Newcastle (H)
Wolves: Young, Birtwistle, Mabete (Francis-Burrell 69), Kandola, Huber, Keto-Diyawa, Harkin, Tipton, Barnett, Hodnett (Farmer 80), Bugarin (Roberts 65).
Unused subs: O'Shaugnessy, Frazer.
Stoke: Parke, Curl, Nixon, Sy, Okagbug, Trialist, Knowles, Cargill, Tezgel, Griffiths, Waite (Trialist 63).
Unused subs: Cooper, Melbourne, Fernandes, Iwobi.
Words by Brad Cox