Wolves 2 (Hesketh 31, Carty 75) Reading 2 (Azeez 26, 85)
Wolves will travel to Crystal Palace in the Premier League 2 Division 2 play-offs, after a 2-2 draw with Reading drew a close to the regular season and saw the under-23s miss out on home advantage.
Already secured of their place in the season extender before kick-off, victory would have seen Wolves host the semi-finals, but a Royals leveller five minutes from time subjected James Collins’ side to a trip to the capital.
Trailing to Femi Azeez’s header, Wolves were never deterred, and two fine team moves flipped the game on its head, when Taylor Perry fed Owen Hesketh, who finished calmly just days after signing a new Wolves contract, and Conor Carty slotted home, following a fine Luke Cundle ball.
However, with just five minutes remaining, Azeez squeezed home his second goal to deny Wolves victory, but big, exciting challenges still lay ahead for Wolves’ youngsters.
Knowing their fate was in their own hands in terms of play-off fixtures, Wolves were under no allusions of their task against the Royals and almost enjoyed a dream start on six minutes when a strong Theo Corbeanu run was followed by a flying effort from Cundle, but a superb James Holden save denied him.
Instead, it was left to the visitors to take the lead as Azeez rose highest to head Reading in front. Given the Royals beat Wolves 5-0 just ten days ago, Collins’ men could have crumbled, but inside rallied and were level soon after.
Pressing high up against their opposition, the excellent Lewis Richards nicked possession back, which allowed Perry to stride forward and find a lovely, clipped pass for Hesketh, who produced an ice cool finish underneath Holden for 1-1.
Ten minutes after the interval Wolves passed up a golden chance to take the lead as first Cundle was thwarted by Holden, Carty was then crowded out by Reading defenders, before the ball sat up nicely for the striker, who sliced the third attempt off target.
However, Carty showed his mental strength to bounce back from that disappointment and fire Wolves in front. It was another goal covered in quality, as Pascal Estrada found Cundle and the midfielder impressively clipped in Carty, who slotted home Wolves’ second.
With Wolves noses in front, the three points looked to be staying in the West Midlands, until Reading, and Azeez to be specific, struck again, as the striker shifted the ball onto his left foot and dragged a low effort out of the reach of Jackson Smith for 2-2.
Wolves will travel to Crystal Palace in the Premier League 2 Division 2 play-offs in the coming weeks, with Stoke City and Middlesbrough to meet in the other semi-final.
TBC Crystal Palace (A)
Wolves | Smith, Scott, Estrada, Wan, Marques (Matheson 69), Richards, Corbeanu, Perry, Carty, Cundle, Hesketh (Campbell 89).
Unused subs | Nya, Young, Hodnett.
Reading | Holden, Watson, Samuels, East, Stickland, Dorsett, Lawless (Holzman 79), Leavy (Purcell 89), Azeez, Osorio, Camara (Clarke 79).
Unused subs | Maunder, Rowley.