Wolves U23s slipped to a 1-0 away defeat at Leicester Road FC of Hinckley in Leicestershire in a special memorial fixture to honour John Perkins, a Molineux youth coaching legend.
A first half bullet header from LRFC winger Amarvir Sandhu was all that separated the two teams and saw Leicester Road lift the ‘John Perkins’ Memorial Trophy – played to commemorate a man known to most as ‘JP’ who was a senior Academy coach at Wolves for 10 successful seasons.
The match was organised by Leicester Road FC manager Neil Lyne, who as a young semi pro player with Leicester United also signed for Nottingham Forest with John Perkins in 1989 (when Brian Clough first recognised JP’s unique coaching talents) and remained a very close friend.
Perkins then worked at Molineux between 2000-2009 as assistant academy manager and under-18s coach and was in charge when Wolves’ talented youngsters reached the semi-finals of the FA Youth Cup in 2005. He sadly passed away in October 2016, aged just 69, following a short illness and at the time was senior academy coach at (then) Premiership Stoke City FC.
The players from both teams led a minute’s applause at the start of the game and this kindred spirit continued throughout a hard fought and evenly contested game that LRFC (who play in the Midland Football League) did very well to edge.
Wolves’ first half highlights were built around powerful midfielder Owen Otasowie, who fired just centimetres wide early on and on 14 mins put Boubacar Hanne clean through, only for his shot to be expertly smothered by LRFC keeper Will Highland.
Wolves winger Ben Stevenson’s was also thwarted on 23 mins, but 10 mins later a pinpoint cross from the right by LRFC’s Jordan Burrows saw Sandhu ghost in behind right back Carlos Heredia and power his header into the top corner.
Wolves rallied immediately and forward Taylor Perry glanced a header that Highland did well to get hands on, but although Otasowie went close again after a mazy run down the left it was the home team who went in 1-0 up and full of confidence.
Wolves’ youngsters came out with much more purpose and intent second half. Centre half Dion Sanderson headed over on 48 mins when well placed and 10 mins later Highland smartly got down low to his right to fingertip a curling free kick by Taylor-Perry just around the post.
Three quick Wolves corners followed in succession, but some resolute LRFC defending and blocking - as they held their shape and discipline well – ensured Wolves continued to be denied and frustrated.
Wolves’ Samuels looked lively when he came on for the last 10 mins, but he scuffed his shot when well placed for Wolves’ last chance of the game and LRFC saw out injury time to record a well-earned and famous victory.
So, it was Leicester Road FC who lifted the John Perkins Memorial Trophy at the end of a pulsating game – and rather fittingly it was presented by JP’s son Ben Perkins (age 19).
LRFC manager Neil Lyne summed up the occasion when he said, “This was a fitting tribute to a passionate man who dedicated his life to football.
"The players from both Wolves FC and Leicester Road FC were a credit to themselves and their respective clubs, symbolising the values and ethos of JP. Knowing the man as I did, he would have been proud.”
Wolves: Beasley, Heredia, Csoka, Sanderson, Stevenson, Otasowie, Hanne, Taylor-Perry, Samuels, Harris-Sealey, Taylor.