Wolves 1 (Perry 34) Derby County 3 (Hector-Ingram 59, Shonibare 68, Shibley 81)
Wolves were forced to settle for second place in their Premier League Cup group after Derby County came from behind to win at the Sir Jack Hayward Training Ground.
Already through alongside their opponents, Wolves knew only three points would see them progress as group winners and led at the break through Taylor Perry’s strike.
However, Derby came roaring back after the interval and scored three times without reply to ensure it was them who’d finish top of the pile after six games each.
The hosts had started the better side and attempted to stamp their authority on proceedings through Chem Campbell and Enzo Loidice, but both were lacking the crucial finish.
Nevertheless, the opening goal did go the way of Wolves. Renat Dadashov send Perry through and, although Manny Idem saved his initial effort, the midfielder benefited from the ricochet and watched he ball trickle home.
However, that slender lead wasn’t enough and Josh Shonibare missing an open goal six minutes after the break was a warning sign of what was to come.
The visitors levelled from the penalty spot, with Jahmal Hector-Ingram firing down the middle following a foul by Owen Otasowie.
Then, after Campbell had passed up a fine opportunity when clean through, the Rams made their hosts pay as Joe Young fumbled George Evans’ free-kick and Shonibare made up for his earlier miss by firing in the rebound.
Derby wrapped up the win in the closing stages when Louie Shibley hammered home following a good save by Young, as Wolves youngsters were left to reflect on what might have been in the first-half.
Under-23s head coach James Collins was left with mixed emotions come full-time after a positive first-half wasn’t continued after the break, but still took heart given the strength of opposition in front of his young players.
He said: “It would have been nice to top the group because the next phase is seeded, but the group are improving, they’ve showed it today. They’re playing against a Derby team that take under-23s football very seriously, with a lot of senior players on the pitch, and our boys more than matched them.
“First-half I thought we did very well. The tactics worked well, and the shape was good. We’d done a lot of work in the week on it and it worked almost to perfection. We got the goal and could have had two or three more.
“The second-half we started reasonably well, but then a bit of soft defending, sticking a leg out around the box, I’m not sure if it was in or on the edge, but that gave them a penalty and got them on the front foot at 1-1. Then it was end to end, a free-kick rebound and mistake here and there, and we still had opportunities to score at the other end. They’ll learn and they’ll continue to learn, we’ll pick them up and get them ready for the next one.”
Collins’ side turn their attention back to the PL2 on Monday night with a trip to Tottenham Hotspur. Seven points from safety, the need for three points is getting greater each week, so the stakes are high for the youngsters travelling to Stevenage’s AMEX Stadium.
02/03 Tottenham Hotspur (A)
10/03 Nuneaton Borough (A) (BSC)
16/03 Derby County (H)
03/04 Chelsea (A)
17/04 Manchester City (H)
Wolves: Young, Nya, Estrada, Marques, Otasowie, Mayounga, Taylor, Loiodice, Perry, Campbell, Dadashov.
Subs: Sondergaard, Lonwijk, Scott, Cundle, Dongda He.
Derby: Idem, Anya, Brown, Dixon, Evans, Wassall, Cresswell, Babos, Hector-Ingram, Sibley, Shonibare.
Subs: Minkley, Yates, Sephton, Hepburn-Murphy, Stretton.