James Collins is hoping victory over Leamington FC in the Birmingham Senior Cup quarter-finals will give his under-23 side a confidence boost heading into the remainder of the season.
Dongda He and Raphael Nya scored the goals which secured the Wolves’ place in the semis, as Collins handed debuts to Nigel Lonwijk and Enzo Loiodice following their January moves to Molineux, and the head coach was impressed with he control his young players asserted on the game against last season’s competition champions.
On victory over The Brakes
“These are tough places to come, playing against experienced players and men who are just one level below the conference.
“I thought our boys rode the early storm where the ball was coming into the box, a different style of football to what they’re used to and settled down in the second-half much better and won the game well in the end.
“The goals were good, especially on what was a difficult pitch, but they found four or five times during the game where we produced really good moves. There were several occasions in the second-half when we could’ve scored a couple of goals. However, we only got the one, after the great hit by Dongda in the first-half, but I’m really pleased with them.”
On confidence boost for Dongda He
“He’s shown us he can play; he was lively, he ran in behind, he was a threat, and he took his goal brilliantly, so he can’t do any more than that.
“He’s definitely staked a claim with his performance.”
On keeping a clean sheet
“They stood up to the pressure. Early on in the first-half, you’re wondering if they would stand up to it, but it was a brilliant save from Andy [Sondergaard] which kept us in it, and after that I felt we managed it well.
“When you’re coming up against set-pieces from non-league teams it’s hard, they’re winning the headers and we’re trying to get the second balls, but I thought the midfield really got on top in the second-half and picked up a lot of balls, which you have to do in these kinds of games against non-league teams.
“We also showed enough quality to prove we’ve got some good players as well.”
On short preparation time
“There wasn’t a lot of time for this game. Lewis [Richards], Owen [Otasowie], Enzo [Loiodice] and Andy were away with the first-team and there was obviously the Youth Cup game on Monday which was a long trip for all them.
“It was also hard for them to come back and recover after just two days in a game which affected them mentally as well as physically, but I thought they all got through it well.
“The good thing is this competition gives us different types of challenges, different styles of football, different types of pitches, and is great for their education.”
On a debut for Enzo Loiodice
“I thought he was excellent. He looked liked an experienced pro out on the pitch, which is a good sign for a young player.
“He looks like he has plenty of ability, playing a lot of through balls and playing people through the lines and I thought he looked like he knew the role well, knows the game well and shows good game understanding, so I was really pleased with him.”
On advancing to the semi-finals
“Whatever competition you’re in, you want to win the games. The boys have had a tough year, so to come to places like this and win games is good for them.
“It’s good to get used to winning games, getting used to good results, so we’ll take that and look forward to the semi-final.”