"It was really pleasing to see the spirit in the group" Scott Sellars
Wolves U23 Head Coach Scott Sellars was delighted that his team were able to emerge from Monday’s local derby with Aston Villa with a victory in their opening PL2 encounter.
Sellars’ men were unfortunate to lose by a single goal in both of last season’s meetings with their local rivals, so the win courtesy of Morgan Gibbs-White’s 89th minute strike was well received.
“They’re always a tough opponent and we’ve had some great games with them over the last couple of years and we’ve generally played really well and felt we should have got something out of it but come out with nothing.” Sellars said.
“Today was a game where I felt we should have got something out of it and we have! With a great win and playing the last 30 minutes with ten man it was really pleasing to see the spirit in the group as well.”
Wolves had used all of their three permitted substitutions by the time that winger Daniel Armstrong suffered an injury, forcing Sellars to shuffle his pack by moving Donovan Wilson out on to the right wing with Niall Ennis taking up a lone striker’s role.
But despite the odds seemingly being stacked against them, it was Wolves who looked the most likely team to score, while at the other end the defence restricted the Villans to few chances.
And the team’s display of application, character and resolve did not come as a surprise to Sellars.
He said: “I think that’s something that’s been with them for the last three years.
“A lot of them are academy players and I’ve watched them and seen that they’ve got a real spirit and collectiveness about them and they brought that with them today.
“They’re also good players and I think the players who are coming through are improving all the time and I think it gives them more chance to be competitive.”
Sellars was also full of praise for his defensive players and goalkeeper Harry Burgoyne after they withstood pressure from the home side in the early stages of both halves and in the process chalked up another clean sheet to go with the three kept during pre-season.
He said: “It’s something that we’ve had a lot of in pre-season, we’ve not conceded many goals and you can see there is a real desire from the boys to keep the ball out of the net.
“Praise to everyone really, the four that started and Aaron Simpson was really good when he came on as well - he’s a good talker and added something - and the midfield in front of them, especially when we went down to ten men.
“As a team we were very disciplined, with great communication, and great desire to block shots but because of the communication we didn’t have a lot of defending to do.”
Goal scorer Gibbs-White, was another player who shone during pre-season and he enjoyed a fine game at Bodymoor Heath, forming a good partnership with Ross Finnie in central midfield, before his calmly side-footing home Niall Ennis’ pass in the 89th minute.
And Sellars believes that there is more to come from the match-winner.
He said: “Morgan’s 16, and he got pushed up because we lost a lot of players and during pre-season he’s probably been our most consistent player, he’s got real quality and he’s made his goal for himself with nicking the ball in midfield, passing it and then running 70 yards before a great finish.
“So he’s shown over pre-season that he’s a player with real potential and we’re really pleased to have him.”
After their good pre-season and fine start to the new campaign optimism is understandably high in the Wolves camp, something that Sellars believes could set them up for a good campaign.
He said: “As always we trying to push lads out on loan and get them some real football, but I think that the lads coming through can cope with this level a lot better than when I first came here.
“There’s a lot of quality and as people they’re more competitive and they have a real desire to be collective and they’re not just about themselves.
“What I’ve seen in pre-season and every day in training I expect us to be really competitive and have a really good season.”
One of those players to go out on loan is winger Connor Hunte, who has joined League Two side Stevenage on-loan until the New Year.
And Sellars hopes the move can do for Hunte’s career what it did to Jordan Graham’s career when he joined Oxford United last season.
Sellars said: “We feel at the moment that Connor is in that in-between gap, he’s sort of gone past the 21’s but not quite ready for the first team, and so the next stepping stone for him is to go and play some real football and be involved with the first team.
“This will be his third year with me and I think that’s probably too long as a 21’s player and we think as football club he needs some real football and we need to get him in that environment.
“He has got massive potential, great pace, power and ability, and we feel he just needs to develop the other side of the game a bit more in terms of a little bit more professionalism and a little bit more work without the ball, and like with Jordan Graham we hope it will have the same positive effect on his career.”