Under-18 report | Wolves 2-2 Man United

Wolves 2 (Fraser 49, 53) Manchester United 2 (McNeill 77, 90)

Nathan Fraser’s second-half brace could not secure a victory as Wolves under-18s had to settle for a draw against Manchester United following Charlie McNeill’s last-minute equaliser at Aggborough Stadium.

Revenge was on the table for Wolves as they hosted a Man United side which knocked them out of the FA Youth Cup semi-final back in March and had bettered the hosts when they met a few weeks ago.

Steve Davis lined up with a few of the boys who featured in the game at Old Trafford including Fraser whose second-half brace was cancelled out by McNeill, who scored a double of his own.

Wolves were put through their paces in the opening ten minutes as Jimmy Storer was forced into an early save from McNeill. The United number nine found himself on the right, inside the area, after Issak Hansen intercepted a loose pass from Wolves deep in their own half.

The game became well-matched and Wolves soon won a free kick on the edge of the penalty area. From the left, Aaron Keto-Diyawa curled a delicate ball onto the head of Fabian Reynolds. United did well to clear the ball off the line as Reynolds nodded the ball onto Owen Farmer who unexpectedly looped his shot over Tom Wooster in goal.

Chances were hard to come by and when they did the shots blazed over the bar. First, Tyler Roberts tested his shooting from range but saw a wild effort soar into the stands. Ethan Ennis would then try his luck from the right only to find the same outcome with Storer going behind to collect the ball.

United stepped up the intensity and saw two identical chances drag wide of the Wolves net. Ennis picked up a pass inside the area and swung a left foot at the ball. His shot flew wide of the right post. Sam Mather then attempted to finish what his teammate had started after receiving the ball in the same position but like Ennis, his left-footed effort went wayward of the goal.

The offside flag kept the first half goalless following Ennis’ shot into an open net. Storer did well to keep out Hansen’s powerful shot from inside the area but the keeper’s parried save fell to the feet of the United number 11. He tapped into the goal but thankfully for the home side, an offside flag was raised.

Half-time | Wolves 0-0 Manchester United

Wolves had a newfound intensity at the start of the second half with Fraser leading the way with his energetic pressing high up the pitch. The striker, who has recently come back from injury, would reap the rewards of his endless work rate.

A well-controlled touch and no-nonsense finish would open up the scoring for Fraser. Picking up the ball inside the area from Owen Farmer, Fraser turned and caught Wooster out of position to prod home Wolves’ first goal of the afternoon.

Before assisting the opener, Farmer came agonisingly close to breaking the deadlock himself. Marvin Kaleta won the ball from his right-back position and burst down the wing. He laid the ball off to Roberts who delivered a wicked ball towards the back post. Farmer darted in from the far post and had the whole of the goal to hit but narrowly missed the ball, leaving the player with his head in his hands.  

Nonetheless the Wolves forward soon doubled his assists for the afternoon setting up his counterpart once more. Picking up the ball on the halfway line, he threaded Fraser in between the lines leaving the goal scorer with just the keeper to beat. Fraser doubled his tally with a neat finish, placing the ball to the right of Wooster.  

United kept the faith and kept pushing for a goal back. Captain for the day, Mark Juarado linked up well with Maxi Oyedele to create chances down the right. The skipper drilled a low ball into the area finding Mather who couldn’t convert, blasting a right-footed shot over the goal.

The away side had pinned Wolves into their own half and it soon paid off with McNeill getting his first goal. A low ball was drilled into the area once again from the right but this time Wolves failed to clear their lines. The ball was knocked back into the area where McNeill, with his back to goal, pivoted and shot on the turn giving Storer no chance of reading the striker’s shot.

The pressure kept coming from United and in the 90th minute, Hansen found a pass, through to McNeill who only had Storer to beat. Without hesitation, he blasted a shot with his right foot to Storer’s right netting a dramatic equaliser in what was an immense game from both sides.

Mather had the chance to crush Wolves’ hearts in the final minutes of added time. He blazed a shot over the bar before drilling an inviting freekick across the penalty area resulting in bodies flying towards the ball but to no success as it rolled out for a goal kick.

Full-time | Wolves 2-2 Manchester United


Following his side’s late heartbreak, head coach Steve Davis was delighted by his team’s performance but labelled his player’s physicality in the final minutes as a place to improve.

“I thought we did really well with the group we started with. We had some of the youngsters playing again, Makenzie [Bradbury] making his debut for the under-18s as a U15 player and he’s one of the younger ones in that group as well so for him to perform as well as he did in his first game it was all credit to him. I thought he was excellent with Mason [Rees] in midfield against very good players from United. I was delighted with some of the younger players’ performances and the fact they got some experience.

“From two-nil up to drawing two all, we were disappointed with the result but there were lots of positives to take from having such a young group out against one of the better teams in our league who had a strong team out.

“Obviously, we always want to win games and with the position we were in with minutes to go we thought we would. I think you could see after 70 minutes most of the players started to pull up with cramp and started to struggle physically so I think United found the gaps and caused us problems at the latter part of the game.

“Up to that point I thought we’d done really well, up to 70 minutes. We competed well, we defended really well I just thought we needed to be better with the ball. We were better with the ball for the first 20 minutes of the second half and got our two quick goals and I was still pleased with the point and would have taken that before the game.”

On bringing some younger players into the squad

“They’ve been doing well in the under-16s especially as most of them are a year below playing for the 16s. If they’re doing well at this point in the season, we have a couple of injuries at the moment so there is an opportunity to throw them in and have a look at them.”

On a rivalry with United

“We always know it’s going to be a tough game and the lads are always up for it. In every game we’ve played against them we’ve done really well. The games have been competitive, they’ve been tight at times, United have just shown that bit of quality at times in the final third. Compared to us they have been able to put away the chances that we haven’t and that has been the difference.

“For us, United is always a benchmark. In the past, it’s been a team we have aspired to get to and be as good as and be competitive with, but the last few seasons we’ve been really competitive with them and the gap has been closed.

“Playing those types of teams isn’t such a big thing now. We feel we belong in that company and that’s been a change in our mindset as an academy and as a group of players and playing teams like United is now the norm and we deserve to be trying to beat those teams with the player we have coming through the academy.”

On Nathan Fraser’s performance

“He’s come back from his ankle injury and we’ve had to reserve his minutes a bit. He didn’t play 90 minutes but we’re trying to push him a little bit to get him through some game time. We don’t need to rush him; we just need to get him right.

“He’s progressing well, even if we have to take him out of the odd game. We just need to make sure he’s recovered fully from his previous injury and doesn’t get a repeat of the same injury from now until the end of the season.

“We need to manage that but at the same time give him the minutes to get him ready for finishing the season and the tournament coming up at the end of May and then next preseason.”


Wolves travel up to Burnley at the weekend to continue their hectic April schedule. Davis commented on how he plans to use more of the younger players, he said: “We’ve had a look at who’s available but I’ve previously said no two games will have the same team, the team will change every game.

“There are players moving around a lot, there are exams at school now, so we have to be creative in how we get the analysis across and how we want them to play. So, there’s more opportunities for under-16s to get some experience playing for the 18s at the weekend and that’s what we’re going to try and do this weekend. It’s going to be a fresh set of challenges for another group of players.”


30/04 Burnley (A)

03/05 Derby County (A)

07/07 Stoke City (H)

10/05 Sunderland (H)


Wolves: Storer, Kaleta (Patterson 76), Keto-Diyawa, Rees, Voice, Kandola, Roberts, Bradbury, Fraser (Mcleod 68), Farmer, Reynolds

Unused subs: Clarke, Salmon

Man United: Wooster, Marcus (Nolan 61), Pye, Aljofree, Jurado, Oyedele (Collyer 75), Mather, Curley, McNeill, Hansen, Ennis (Berry 61)

Unused sub: Hanbury