James Collins felt his Wolves under-23 side produced one of their best spells of the season in Monday afternoon’s draw with West Bromwich Albion, despite falling to a late goal to snatch the three points from their grasp.
The head coach believed his development side’s performance in the opening 30 minutes at Aggborough was ‘scintillating’ as they created chance after chance at goal but were not able to find the net in a period of domination.
Wolves, who suffered first-half injuries to Nigel Lonwijk and Austin Samuels, were left to rue those missed opportunities when Albion equalised with just minutes left on the clock as Collins’ men tried to hang on to just a one goal advantage, but despite the late set-back, the under-23s are still in a good position to make the Premier League 2 Division 2 play-offs with just three matches of the season remaining.
On taking the lead after a positive performance
“I thought we were as good as we’ve been for half-an-hour at the start of the game, I really did. We played some scintillating football.
“Then we had the injuries and I swapped Theo onto the other wing because I wanted to see if he could get success on the other side and maybe that rattled us a little bit, because at the end of the first-half, we probably had our poorest spell at that point.
“Then in the second-half, I thought we got control back again, got the goal we deserved, and it looked like there was only going to be one winner.”
On not being able to hold on
“With 20/15 minutes to go, you’re one-up in a game you want to win, and human nature is to hang on to what you’ve got.
“We had the odd moment where we might have got the second, but at that point, the lads were more focused on holding on to what we had. And I have to say, I thought we did that manfully for the majority.
“But in a hot day, late on in the day, they leave it for each other, a leg gets stuck out, and it’s a pen. Joe nearly saved the day, he nearly got it, but that’s football.
“I thought we deserved to win the game, but it didn’t surprise me at the end when they got one.”
On players enjoying their football
“I think our football’s been excellent. I’m really pleased with how they’re picking up on the work we’ve been doing, and the boys seem to enjoy the style of play and the way we’re playing.
The bravery they’re showing in possession is brilliant, but that’s a style of play, it’s great, but it doesn’t always win you football matches.
“What wins you football matches is the blocks, the hard work and the discipline which they’ve got to learn when they go into first-team football. You don’t always get what you deserve, but that’s football.”
Denied the win that we wanted, but stay positive for the run in 🙌 pic.twitter.com/2BjUCKw5bN— Wolves Academy (@WolvesAcademy) April 19, 2021
On injuries to Lonwijk and Samuels
“It’s been one of those seasons. Players are picking up those little injuries at the moment at all levels. Nigel had only just got through this week and we thought that it would be ok to play him, but he felt something, so we thought the safest thing to do would be to get him off, but he isn’t too bad.
“Austin felt he’d pulled his hamstring, and once you get one of them, they’re not easy to run off, but again, we’ll scan it and see where we’re at.
“The nice thing is that Conor’s [Carty] come back in quicker than we thought he might, which is good because we’re going to need him. He came on, got his goal, and after not playing for a few weeks, I thought he did fine.”
On three big games remaining
“They’re all big games because you want to get results, you want to play good football, you want to develop the players.
“At this stage of their careers, you want them to be playing big games, and they should be because they’re fighting for their lives.
“They’re a squad of 23 players, but how many of those, come four or five years’ time, will be playing regularly in the league? It won’t be all of them, so they’re fighting for their lives and the games should show that, and today it did.”