Steve Davis has expressed his satisfaction in his young Wolves under-18s group as they approach the end of an U18 Premier League North season which has seen the squad ravaged by injury and illness.
The head coach has been left with just 13 players to choose from during the last few weeks, including in Saturday’s 5-1 loss to league leaders Manchester United, where Wolves still produced a positive performance and looked to have swung momentum in their side after Chem Campbell struck from the penalty spot just after half-time, but defensive mistakes allowed a clinical Red Devils side to prosper late on.
But in spite of the results not always going their way in recent months, Davis believes his players can still take pride from their performances this season, especially the 15 and 16-year-olds who have made the step up to his team and faced a difficult challenge head on.
On competing against the league leaders
“They were slightly older and slightly more experienced, but they’ve got good young players as well coming on. They’re Man United, so they’re always going to have a good level of talent within their groups, and they do attract the better talent from around the country. Once again, it was a great game for us to measure ourselves against the best and see where we are.
“I thought there were spells in the game where we did really well, we kept possession quite well, stood up strongly to them, we were quite inventive and hit the woodwork three times.
“Going three down in the first-half was always going to be tough to come back from, because defensively we allowed the goals to happen far too easily. If there’s an area we need to improve, it’s defending the box, defending the goal and our one-v-ones. I felt we made some poor decisions and didn’t really defend as a unit very well.
“But apart from that, a lot of our other aspects were really good, the organisation, they tried to do what we’d planned to do, but even their manager said afterwards that he felt the result flattered them as it was a very good game of football.”
On facing a side who were clinical in attack
“They’ve got a lot of quality where it matters, and that’s around the box in front of goal. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how much possession you have, you need to put the ball in the back of the net.
“Last week, they lost to Newcastle when they had double the amount of chances but got counter-attacked three times and lost the game 3-2. Then this week, they had fewer chances, but scored five of them. I felt they were very clinical in front of goal and some of the solo goals they scored were excellent.
“But that’s football. We’ve got to learn from that and be better defensively and harder to beat in those critical moments of the game.”