Wolves 2 (Hubner 27, Farmer 45) Derby County 2 (Cox 51, Ojinnaka (OG) 70)
Wolves under-18s had to settle for a point in their latest U18 Premier League North clash as a second-half fightback from Derby County cancelled out a strong opening from Steve Davis’ side.
It was an impressive start to the match from the hosts at the Sir Jack Hayward Training Ground, and the young Wolves side took the lead just before the half-hour mark when defender Justin Hubner got on the end of an Ethan McLeod cross to head the ball into the net from close range.
Wolves continued to dominate through the first period and doubled their advantage on the stroke of half-time as Owen Farmer – who appeared to be in an offside position – was played in on goal following a clever run by McLeod, before turned the ball past the Derby goalkeeper.
However, Derby came clawing back in the second-half, and just over five minutes after the break, Wolves unable to defend a free-kick which allowed Daniel Cox to pull a goal back for the visitors.
That goal gave the Rams confidence to get a result from the game and were handed a huge slice of fortune with an equaliser with 20 minutes remaining – as Olamide Ibrahim’s cross was inadvertently put into the back of his own net by Temple Ojinnaka.
Wolves tried to regain the lead late on, but had to made do with a point, which helped Davis’ side go above Liverpool and into third in the PL North table.
Head coach Steve Davis was disappointed his players weren’t able to replicate their dominant first-half performance after the break on Saturday. He said: “I thought we played really well in the first-half, with some really controlled football and we scored a couple of good goals.
“But we changed ends and there was quite a strong wind in the second-half, which made a difference in the game. They went more direct, went with a diamond in the middle and packed the midfield and picked up on a lot of second balls, so we couldn’t get any control.
“Their goal gave them a bit of a lift and they got a bit of momentum. I was a bit disappointed with the equaliser, because I felt it was a foul higher up the pitch, but they broke and Temple [Ojinnaka] unfortunately deflected the cross in.
“They were two poor goals for us to concede, but I was more disappointed that we didn’t control the second-half as we did the first than I was with the goals.”
On getting players back fit
“We’ve got the international break now, which gives us a chance to get a few lads back because we lost three players prior to kick-off on Saturday.
“Tinks [Tyler Roberts] was ill with a sore throat and a cough, Ty [Barnett] had a pull in training on Friday and then we lost Jimmy [Storer] in the warm-up with a wrist injury.
“We had to make three quick changes before the game, so this break will give us a chance to get some of those lads back, especially Ty and Tinks who will be better for Middlesbrough.
“We’re still having a look at Jimmy as we’re not too sure what’s wrong with his wrist, but Palmi [Arinbjornsson] has had to go back to Iceland because he suffered a concussion on Saturday. We didn’t have much luck with goalkeepers with losing Jimmy just before the game, Palmi during his first game for a while, which meant Stan [Amos] had to come off the under-16s game and play the last ten minutes.
“It’ll be good to get players back and have a near fully-fit squad, because we haven’t really had that for quite a while now.”
On working closely with Bruno Lage’s first-team
“We’ve been training with the first-team quite a lot, and this week, along with the under-23s who didn’t play on Tuesday night, we’ll be supplementing their players who have gone off to play internationals.
“Our lads really enjoy it because it creates different tension and different pressure playing against top Premier League footballers, and they know it’s going to be a really hard session, not just the intensity but the challenge of pitting themselves against those types of players.
“There’s also the challenge of impressing the manager and his staff. Bruno has been there with us all this week and it will be another good opportunity for him to see them.”
As with the first-team and under-23s, the under-18s have a weekend off for the international break, but Davis’ side will return to action against Middlesbrough on Saturday 20th November as they continue a run of home fixtures.
“Hopefully the break will allow us to get some of our players back,” Davis said. “They’re with the first-team until Thursday, then they’ll have three days off where they can go home and rest up before coming back in on Monday to prepare for the Middlesbrough game.”
20/11 Middlesbrough (H)
24/11 Aston Villa (H) U17 PLC
27/11 Birmingham City (H) U18 PLC
04/12 Nottingham Forrest (H)
11/12 Manchester United (A)
Wolves: Arinbjornsson, Ojinnaka, Hubner, Mabete, Keto-Diyawa, McLeod, Francis-Burrell, Rees, Esen, Farmer, Fraser.
Subs: Amos, Shahar, Carson, Reynolds.
Derby: Roberts, Cox, Brailsford, Aideyan, Moore, Ibrahim, Fapetu, Sebagabo, Davies, Dixon, Kelly.
Subs: Randle, Robinson, Christie, Rutt, Hawkins.