Under-18 report | Wolves 1-0 Everton

Wolves 1 (Farmer 54) Everton 0

Wolves under-18s continued their impressive recent form but had to work hard in a narrow home victory over an Everton side who started the day fourth and four places higher than Wolves, whose season is far from over with five games in hand over their league competitors.

In what was a very quiet and tightly contested opening 20 minutes, Everton marginally looked the more likely to break the deadlock. Toffees captain Halid Djankpata had the first real chance of the day as he dropped a shoulder to work an opening, beating several Wolves defenders, but he was off balance and the shot flew well wide of the mark.

The visitors came close again just minutes later, with another chance being created by their inverted wingers cutting inside to a crowded Wolves penalty area. This time it was Owen Barker darting in from the right flank before unleashing an effort which sailed over the bar.

Having just been denied a one-on-one by a tug on the shirt, Everton’s Martin Sherif was heavily involved once more when the ball kindly broke to him in the Wolve box unmarked. He had time to get a powerful shot away but much to the relief of the hosts, the shot was straight down the throat of Jimmy Storer in the Wolves net.

The Everton pressure became relentless however when tricky winger, Isaac Heath came closest to opening the scoring, with his curling shot from distance making Storer scramble but could only rattled the post. 

As half-time approached, it was the home side’s turn to attack, as they fashioned an opening of their own. A ball was swept out wide to Wolves’ captain and talisman Tyler Roberts who found himself in space on the attacking right flank. He controlled the switch of play effortlessly before displaying scintillating skill to wriggle and weave between two Everton defenders before whipping a low ball across the face of goal. It was met by the on-rushing Owen Farmer who failed to keep his shot low and the effort, deserving more, flew high and wide from close range. This was to be the last action of a lively, but fruitless first period.

Half-time | Everton 0-0 Wolves

In the opening stages of the second half it was the hosts who started the brighter of the two sides, as they patiently moved the ball from the left to right. Farmer found himself central with the ball at his feet and with Fabian Reynolds in space to his left. Farmer found Reynolds with a simple lay off before darting in behind the Everton defence to receive the return pass and coolly slot home the opener from close range.

Wolves then began to find their rhythm with the opening goal injecting Steve Davis’ side with the confidence to create big chances for a second and third. Tyler Roberts saw himself through on goal, once again displaying his devastating pace to allow himself the extra yard of space, but the angle was tight and the captain’s shot was hit with venom but easy for Everton keeper, Dylan Graham to hold, getting down quickly at his near post. 

An ever-better chance came moments later when Temple Ojinnaka played a perfectly weighted ball in behind the high Everton line and into the path of goal scorer Farmer, who once again looked to combine with Reynolds who found himself free at the back post. Farmer whipped in a first time cross and any contact from Reynolds would have surely seen the home side double their advantage.

With 20 minutes of the match remaining, the hosts worked a superb counter attack with first time passing to so nearly find their second goal. Farmer was found on the break and a smart yet subtle first touch took him away from his marker. He found Roberts on the overlap whose cross switch deflected kindly to Ojinnaka in space. The Wolves number 10 perfectly picked out the forward run of Reynolds with a well weighted through ball and the assister of the first found himself through on the Everton keeper. His touch was a good one but his left footed shot, whilst avoiding the diving reach of Graham, could only hit the upright before being cleared away from danger.

The final 20 minutes of the fixture were characterised by half chances crafted by both sides and several stoppages which didn’t allow the game to find and follow much of a rhythm. 

Full-time | Wolves 1-0 Everton


Davis said: “I was [really pleased]. I thought the first-half was quite close, both teams really going at it and trying to win the game, trying to get a foot hold in the game. 

“Second-half there was a slight little tweak to what we were trying to do, go a bit more attack minded in terms of how we set up, we pushed Josh [Esen] in a little bit higher to get a bit closer to Owen [Farmer] who I felt was a little bit isolated first half. 

“I thought we created the better chances second-half and I thought we deserved the 1-0 win. It was always close, there was always the opportunity for them to get back in the game, but I thought we controlled the game much better second-half than we did first half.”

On managing a contested fixture schedule 

“I think just to take each game at a time because there’s so many. We’ve got Tuesday, Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday pretty much right from now until the end of the season because obviously we’ve had a lot of games called off with the FA Youth Cup so we’re having to catch those up. 

“It will depend on who is available, what numbers we get back from the [Under] 23s, which lads will push up from the [Under] 16s into our group, so it’ll be a mixture. I don’t think we’ll have the same team for each game, I think it’ll be a different group, so it depends on what that group is like really, in terms of the strength and experience that we’ve got. 

“I guess that will depend in the end where we end up in the league, but I think just for us it’s about making sure that we’re competitive and we’re giving our all for every game and we see some improvement with the players.” 

On the younger players being integrated and impressing

“Mason [Rees], who has played a lot of games in the 18s this season anyway, and last season, had probably one of the best games he’s had today, I thought he was excellent. Fabian I thought grew into the game, did better as the game went on, and for the last 15, 20 minutes he was excellent and showed glimpses of what he’s capable of, so again really pleased with his performance today and how he’s stepped up to the 18s. Then you’ve got Makenzie Bradbury, Conor McLeod and Fabian Salmon who are 15s and 16s.

“Obviously [Caden] Voice, who played left centre back today, who is an under 15, I thought did excellently considering he was up against a really big, strong striker, I think he needs applause as well because I thought he was excellent. Coped with that physicality really well, and again grew into the game, got confidence from being a goal up and got confidence as the game went on.

“Listen, this is a time of the year now where obviously all the second years have pretty much moved into the 23s programme, so it’s a time to look at the 15s and 16s, the best ones we’ve got, and give them some opportunities and see how they cope.”


“We’ve got Liverpool and [Manchester] United next week, we’ve got Middlesbrough away the day after Good Friday, so we’ve got some tough games to come but like I say we’ll take it each game at a time, see what group we’ve got [available] on Tuesday, the lads will need to recover from today. I think it will be very much what we had today we’ll have on Tuesday and a tough game. As I say, every game we play in this league is always competitive, there’s always good players that we play against. 

“But we seem to be holding our own and the players, from my point of view, are developing nicely and it’s pleasing to see the second years that have moved into the 23s doing really well in the 23s, they’ve got a good chance at the playoffs now and hopefully we can achieve that as a group. I think we’ve got some talent in the group and they’re all heading in the right direction at the moment, so we’ve just got to keep them going on that path.”


12/04 Manchester United (A)

16/04 Middlesbrough (A)

19/04 Liverpool (H)

23/04 Leeds (A)

27/04 Manchester United (H)


Wolves | Storer, Kaleta (Bradbury 80), Mabete, Rees, Voice, Keto-Diyawa, Reynolds, Esen (Salmon 88), Farmer, Ojinnaka, Roberts.

Unused subs | Mcleod, Amos, Harper.

Everton | Graham, Dixon, Wright, Wilson, Smith, Apter, Barker, Djankpata, Sherif, Smikle-James (Jagne 77), Heath (Lawrence 60).

Unused subs | Nash, Cahill, Tierney.

By Ollie Spencer