Wolves 2 (Corbeanu 2, Hesketh 16) Palace 0
Wolves under-23s earned their first win of 2021 in just their third outing of the year after Theo Corbeanu and Owen Hesketh’s goals gave the development side a big boost in their Premier League 2 Division 2 campaign.
Similarly to their previous match three weeks ago at Stoke City, it was Wolves who made the lightening quick start to proceedings, taking the lead with their first real attack of the game.
Lewis Richards channelled his inner Conor Coady with a 40-yard raking ball out of defence and straight to the boot of Corbeanu who took the ball in his strike on the right wing before cutting to the byline and his cross was deflected into the net by Palace defender Jake Giddings.
Moments after putting his side ahead, Corbeanu was using his pace and trickery once again as he glided inside from the right wing and laid the ball across the face of goal, but this time, Palace were able to clear the danger.
The hosts’ pressure told on 15 minutes when Wolves doubled their advantage through Hesketh, as the Welsh midfielder made it three goals from his four under-23 appearances.
In the build-up, Hugo Bueno let fly from distance but his shot could only be parried back into the danger area by Palace keeper Oliver Webber, and Hesketh was quickest to the rebound, heading the ball into the back of the net.
Webber had to show strong wrists to deny Corbeanu from grabbing a second when the Canadian got his head on a delightfully weighted cross to the far post by Luke Cundle, but Corbeanu’s goal-bound effort was pushed clear from off the goalline. Corbeanu then flashed a shot wide of the post having broken quickly, with Austin Samuels and Hesketh in good positions in the centre of the penalty area.
Although Wolves dominated much of the first-half, the second period was more of an even contest, with both sides creating chances without fully testing their opposition goalkeepers.
The impressive Hong Wan had a shot from distance in the first 45 minutes which might have flown well wide, but he was much closer with his second effort, in the opening stages of the second-half, although he was yet to trouble Webber.
The hosts came closest to adding a third when Corbeanu was played into space down the right and having burst inside and past his marker, he attempted to curl a left footed effort into the top corner, but narrowly missed the target.
Palace grew into the half but struggled to get through the goal and black wall which had been built on the edge of the 18 yard box, and it took magic from Reece Hannam to get anywhere near the Wolves goal, as the defender struck the crossbar from distance with Andreas Sondergaard beaten.
Wolves were calling for a penalty in the final 10 minutes of the contest when Nigel Lonwijk went down under a challenge in the Palace penalty area as a free-kick was lifted into the box, but referee Lewis Smith waved away their protests.
The hosts could have put the game beyond doubt with minutes to go when Corbeanu played in Conor Carty, but the Irish striker’s low shot was palmed away by Webber, and the rebound was just out of reach for his Canadian strike partner.
James Collins’ under-23s will be back in action later this week as they travel to London to take on Fulham from the London School of Economics Sportsground, with kick-off due at 12pm on Friday.
26/02 Fulham (A)
05/03 Leeds United (H)
14/03 Sunderland (H)
22/03 Middlesbrough (A)
12/04 Newcastle United (H)
*indicates first-team opposition
Wolves: Sondergaard, Scott (Nya 90), Lonwijk, Richards, Bueno, Hong Wan, Cundle, Hesketh, Corbeanu, Campbell (Mayounga 67), Samuels (Carty 74).
Unused subs: Agboola, Dongda He.
Palace: Webber, Boateng, O’Brien, Rich-Baghuelou, Hannam, Hale, Boateng, Giddings (Dreher 46), Spence (Aveiro 67), Gordon, Matthews (Rak-Sakyi 46).
Unused subs: Russell, Omilabu.