Wolves under-18s suffered a 1-5 defeat to Liverpool at Aggborough as Steve Davis' young side continued a congested month of fixtures.
A delicate chip from Tyler Roberts at the end of the first-half would have given Steve Davis’ side a glimmer of hope going into the break, after Temple Ojinnaka fiercely hunted the ball down before Fabian Reynolds slotted Roberts through to score. However, Liverpool’s second-half performance proved too tiring for the hosts as they controlled possession with impressive fluidity.
The early pressure from Liverpool in the opening ten minutes left Wolves scrambling and saw Aaron Keto-Diyawa concede a penalty, taking down Bobby Clark in the area. Luke Chambers stepped up for the visitors and sent his penalty to the right, wrong-footing Jimmy Storer in goal.
Pressure kept mounting for Wolves and forced them to defend deep in their half. Caden Voice and Storer had their work cut out as the goalkeeper denied Oakley Cannonier from poking in the ball at his near post following a perfectly placed ball into his path from the outside boot of Callum Scanlon.
It was a tough afternoon for Davis’ men and they soon cracked letting in the second of the match. Harvey Blair collected what looked like an overhit pass out left on the by-line before cutting the ball into the feet of Cannonier. The number nine got the better of Wolves’ defence and struck a first time shot from the penalty spot into the right side of the goal.
Liverpool’s in-form striker would soon double his tally, this time with an aerial effort. Luca Stephenson whipped a cross in from deep to find an unmarked Cannonier who headed hard and low into the bottom left corner of the goal.
Roberts gave the home side something to fight for going into half-time as he chipped a shot from the left, over an outrushing Harvey Davis. Following Temple Ojinnaka’s menacing pressure off the ball, Reynolds burst down the left before playing Roberts in to score.
Half-time | Wolves 1-3 Liverpool
Chances were hard to come by for Wolves in the second-half and Liverpool continued to mount a possessive display of attacking football. Liverpool was quick to add a fourth as scorer turned provider and Cannonier beat Storer to a wayward pass and lifted a ball toward the back post where Bobby Clark was waiting to head into an empty net.
Liverpool’s momentum was hard to eradicate and Blair added a fifth to the scoreline. A bombarding run proved too powerful for the Wolves defenders who struggled to contain the winger. Bursting into the area he pivoted and slotted a shot into the far-right corner of the net.
Wolves mounted a response and an energetic Nathan Fraser was at the forefront. After being sidelined in recent weeks with an ankle injury he burst onto the pitch in the 70th minute and became a nuisance for Liverpool’s defence with his darting runs and dominating strength.
To the misfortunes of Wolves, the damage had been done and they couldn’t salvage another goal before the full-time whistle. A valiant effort met by a fearless opponent.
Full-time | Wolves 1-5 Liverpool
Following the tough result, head coach Steve Davis highlighted the positives from the arduous game, he said: “It was a tough game. We knew coming into the match, with the back-to-back games we’ve had over the last three weeks, it was going to be a really tough ask to ask them to go again after a very tough mid-week game as well.
“It was going to be a hard game for the group we had out. But these games are about learning about players and when things are tough how they react and who shows character and personality.
"I talked about after the game how the lads can show more of that when the game gets hard on the pitch and things don’t work out for you, how do you react and how can you help each other. Those are the key messages and the positives you take out of today.”
On what his side was missing in the second-half
“We found it difficult to get any control in the game. When we did get the ball, we found it hard to get enough passes to be able to get any control and to create anything.
"We got up to a point and then we lacked support and quality in the final third. Possession wise they [Liverpool] had a lot of it and we found it really hard to get the ball back and when we did, we gave it to them straight back.
"We’ve got to be better on the transition and try to keep the ball for longer and create things. We didn’t do that today and we found it really tough.“
On playing some of the more experienced under-18s
“Harry [Birtwistle] didn’t play last night for the under-23s so naturally he needs to play to develop himself, he’s still an 18 and he needs the games.
"Nathan [Fraser] is just coming back from injury and is on limited time so we knew how long he was due to play so we made the necessary substitution to get him on the pitch for the 20 minutes he played for us and we’ll build that time up next week and increase his minutes.
"He’s been out for four or five weeks now with his ankle so it’s nearly time to get back. He’s been training all week and we’ll build his game time up.”
The under-18 have a hectic schedule across April with three games before two in less than a week at the start of May.
Davis commented on how they cope with such a strenuous fixture list and what they do to prepare, he said: “You can’t plan ahead for something like that you’ve just got to emphasise the need to recover and sleep and eat properly and rehydrate properly.
“I think it’s important, that side of it, and that they look after themselves in terms of that and get on the ice baths and do the recovery properly. They’ve got to be professional, recover, eat well, drink plenty and stay positive that’s the message between games and then see if we can do better in the next game which is Leeds on Saturday.”
23/04 Leeds United (A)
27/04 Manchester United (H)
30/04 Burnley (A)
03/05 Derby County (A)
07/05 Stoke City (H)
Wolves | Storer, Birtwistle, Keto-Diyawa, Rees, Voice, Kaleta, Roberts, Esen (Harper 58), Farmer (Clarke 78), Ojinnaka, Reynolds (Fraser 70).
Unused subs: Shahar, Salmon.
Liverpool | Davies, Frauendorf (Osborne 65), Scanlon (Hayes-Green 73), Jonas, Chambers, Stephenson, Blair, Balagizi, Cannonier, McConnell (Koumas 80), Clark.
Unused subs: Pilling, Hewitson.
By Tom Alston