Wolves 3 (Corbeanu 10, Samuels 45, 56) Burnley 2 (Richardson 29, Thompson 33)
Under-23 head coach James Collins was delighted with the performance of his development side as they began their Premier League 2 Division 2 season with all three points.
The under-23s hadn’t won a league game for just two days shy of an entire calendar year, but showed no signs of last season’s relegation hangover, by putting on a dominant display to beat Burnley 3-2 at Aggborough.
Theo Corbeanu, promoted from the under-18s, showed individual skill to take on the defence, hold off his marker before firing into the bottom corner to give Wolves the lead at their new base for the 2020/21 season, the home of Kidderminster Harriers.
Although Burnley took the lead with two quick goals around the half-our mark, Austin Samuels was the under-23s hero as he was in the right place at the right time to snatch an equaliser just before the half-time break. With the ball bouncing around the penalty area into a mass of bodies, the striker was there to get the decisive touch to take it over the line.
Samuels got the winning goal just before the hour mark, with his determination bringing him out on top of the Burnley defence before sliding the ball past the visiting keeper. Collins’ men continued to dominate much of the second-half, earning all three points to give a positive start to the new campaign.
On a winning start to the season
“Everyone’s excited for the first game, I thought the lads battled well, and to get a win is always nice on the first game of the season, it gets them off to a good start and puts them in a positive frame of mind.
“It’s always about development, it’s always about making players better, it’s always about getting players through, but we all want to win. That’s why we get into football as kids originally, so after losing a lot of games last season, I think to begin this season with a win gets them off and running.
“We’ve got three points on the board and it gives everyone a confidence, so I’d be lying to say it didn’t help.”
On Burnley’s first-half fightback
“You know what to expect from Burnley. They’re first team are the same. Really hard to play against, balls are going to come into the box, they work hard, they run, and are a really difficult opponent.
“The disappointing thing was that we were expecting that all week and we’d told them it was coming, we’d worked with the ones we’d had to work with on that, but at the end, they got a bit too strong from the cross and get back into it.
“Once that happened, they got a head of steam and they got on top. But I felt for the majority of the game, we controlled it.”
On going into the break all square
“It was a relief going in at 2-2, because at 2-1 it’s different and they’ve got something to hang on to.
“But to get back to 2-2, we deserved to because of our attacking performance in the first-half, and I knew that if we got back level, defend better second-half, we’d still create chances, and that’s how it turned out.”
On goalscorers Corbeanu and Samuels
“I thought Theo was excellent. He looked a real threat. He’s got to learn things with his defending off the ball and his intelligence, but in possession he’s a real danger.
“He threatened the opponents, he’s strong, physical, athletic and could have had a few more if he’d been a bit more clinical.”
“Austin’s had an excellent pre-season, he’s come back really determined and has a real drive to work on what we wanted him to work on, and what he needs to work on, he does extra after every day on training and you get your rewards if you’re like that.
“He started the game, his hard work kept him on the pitch, and he scored the winning goal. Hopefully he will feel the benefits of that, and it can take him on.”
The under-23s are aiming to make it back-to-back wins to kick-off their Premier League 2 campaign when they travel to another new side to Division 2 in Leeds United.
The game was originally due to take place next Monday, but due to the EFL Trophy match against Oldham Athletic the day after, the under-23s will now take on Leeds this Friday.
18/09 Leeds United (A)
22/09 Oldham Athletic* (A) EFLT
28/09 Stoke City (H)
06/10 Bradford City* (A) EFLT
18/10 Aston Villa (H)
*indicates first-team opposition
Wolves: Sondergaard, Scott, Lonwijk, Marques (Mayounga 64), Estrada, Bueno, Cundle, Perry, Shabani (Hong Wan 66), Corbeanu, Samuels (Carty 81).
Unused subs: Young, Campbell.
Burnley: Jensen, Elva-Fountaine, Thomas, Barrett (Raine 57), Glennon, Tucker, Benson, Goodridge (Rickard 78), Richardson, Harker, Thompson (Conn-Clarke 57).
Unused subs: Richter, Diallo.