James Collins was delighted with the second-half turnaround displayed by his under-23s as they fought back to claim all three points in their derby with West Bromwich Albion.
Meritan Shabani and Oskar Buur notched their second goals of the campaign, while Theo Corbeanu ended his goal draught with a brace to earn a 4-2 victory, but following a poor first 45 minutes, the head coach was able to rally his team around to produce an excellent second-half display.
On fighting back from a disappointing first-half
“It’s mixed thoughts because it was a game of two halves, the old saying. We started really poorly, and although we created a few chances still, I thought in the first-half, we weren’t really at the races.
“We maybe had a bit of a hangover from Tuesday night at Port Vale, and I thought we looked leggy, we couldn’t get any pressure on at times, and when we did press, our shape and timing was wrong.
“Then in the second-half, I thought we were excellent and we found a way to get it together. We spoke at half-time about how we would press, how we would get back into the game, and I thought in the second-half, we were magnificent.”
On dominating Albion in the second period
“We pressed in the first-half, but it was as ones or twos, so the gaps between the units were just too big. But in the second-half, the gaps between the three units were really tight and we pressed as a team, as opposed to pressing as individuals.
“We know they are all in here to try and get their own careers, but what they have to learn at under-23s level is that if they go out as an individual, you won’t get the result and you won’t get the rewards.
“You have to do it together as a team, as a group, and at half-time they did that, so got their rewards in the second-half.”
On being clinical in front of goal
“When you’re on top, you want to score and I think we had some chances before we scored at 2-1, but I did have thoughts about whether it would be one of those games, similar to Middlesbrough and Aston Villa a few weeks ago.
“We had chances in those games and then they broke up the other end and scored a couple of goals, and that was the game. I was hoping that it wasn’t going to be like that because I felt we deserved something out of the game, but the finishing was clinical.
“I think the third goal was magnificent. Lots of people involved and real good intelligence to win it at the end, so I was delighted.”
That derby winning feeling.— Wolves Academy (@WolvesAcademy) December 14, 2020
On a second-half brace for Corbeanu
“The performance was Theo. He can be magnificent, he can be exciting, and even in the first-half with the ball, he was the real threat for us.
“But he can switch off with his defending and when he doesn’t have the ball. However, second-half, he really had a go and it helped the team, which gave him more chances to attack.
“What I liked to see was that he got in on goal centrally, rather than going wide and having to cut inside or cross it, he actually got in areas where he could score goals.
“Because he has to score goals. It’s no good just being a wide guy, he has to make goals and score goals, and today he showed he can, so I was delighted for him.”
On his first Black Country derby
“The players have to learn that these games matter. They’re about to go on the journey of first-team football, and at that level, winning the game is what matters.
“You’ve got to perform well and you’ve got to play well, but when you’re sitting in the dressing room after losing the game, it’s about winning the game. They’ve learnt a but of that today, because they’ve had to dig in and fight to win a game of football.
“It’s a local derby, hopefully it will put a few smiles on people’s faces, it certainly does us and it keeps a little run going in the league. That’s two away wins in a row, which is great, and now we’ve got one more game before Christmas.
“We know that after Christmas we will lose some of those players who will go out on loan, so it will be nice for us to finish off the year strongly before we go again after Christmas with, maybe, some new bodies.”