Richard Walker felt the first half performance of his under-18s left an uphill battle to climb against Middlesbrough.
The youngsters were beaten for the first time in the under-18 Premier League at Compton Park on Saturday, however it came at the end of a challenging three-game week. Wolves picked up back-to-back victories in the league and Premier League Cup upon their return from South Korea, so head coach Walker was quick to highlight that the result wasn’t the end of the world and one the team can learn from.
On the first half performance
“I thought it was a game of two halves in terms of performance. In the first half we started on the back foot and credit to Middlesbrough – they came here, had a game plan and started fast.
“Once we relinquished momentum, we struggled to get it back. We conceded two goals from second phases of play and we looked leggy.
“The lads have had a tough time. Certainly the week they’ve had has been a good one in terms of coming into the fixture with wins at Derby and Manchester United.
“I felt losing that momentum suddenly made us look tired. I thought we were off it out of possession in the first half and then in possession we didn’t secure the ball well enough.
“First half was a really tough one for the players and as a result a poor performance. But, to the players credit, they managed to get the goal just before half-time and suddenly made it a contest. It was a good penalty from Makenzie Bradbury and well won.”
On being better in the second 45
“We went in with a lifeline and I thought in the second half we were much better. The distances between the units were much better, we defended much higher, pressed much better as a result and with the ball, we had much more control.
“I felt as long as we kept things short and were brave to play through the lines, that we’d enter the final third with good control.
“When we did keep it short and play, that was the case. We got up and around their box fairly frequently but without looking like we’d cut them open.
“I just felt we needed a little more impetus at the top end of the pitch – be it that sharpness of movement or the anticipation of balls dropping around the box.”
On an overall positive week and what’s to come
“As I say, it’s been a tough week for the lads. They’ve come off the back of two wins so it’s not the end of the world.
“They’ve got points on the board and it’s one we can reflect on and learn from.
“The lads have done really well, by and large. It gives them a good opportunity at Southampton in the Premier League Cup on Tuesday to put it right.
“Next week we’ve got Nottingham Forest, so there are two games on the horizon that I’m confident in this group of players that they’ll respond to.”