Wolves 2 (Hesketh 7, Campbell 81) Fulham 1 (Hilton 89 (pen))
Wolves under-23s continued their impressive start to the 2021/22 season when they made it four wins from four at Aggborough by picking up three points against Premier League 2 Division 2 leaders Fulham.
It was the visitors who almost opened the scoring with the first attack of the game as Terry Ablade was played in behind Jack Scott and Pascal Estrada on the Wolves left, and having taken a touch, he fired high into the net past Louie Moulden. But fortunately for the side in gold and black, the assistant referee’s flag went up for offside against the Fulham number nine.
But Wolves took the lead within the opening 10 minutes as Chem Campbell used his skill and pace to race down the left, taking the ball past several Fulham men. Having reached the penalty area, the winger cut inside and fired at George Wickins’ goal, but the keeper could only parry the ball to the feet of Hesketh who tapped into the empty net from close range.
James Collins’ side were given another let off in the first-half, when Ablade once again picked up the ball ahead of the Wolves defence, and having taken the ball around Moulden and with the goal gaping, the striker could only slot his effort wide of the post as Rafa Nya managed to get back on the goalline.
Fulham continued to press after the break, but Moulden’s goal was not largely troubled thanks to a resolute Wolves defence which stayed strong to deny a side who had scored for fun in the Premier League 2 so far this season.
But the development side were not going to allow Fulham to equalise and instead extended the lead themselves, with the scorer and assister for the opening goal switching for Wolves second, as Hesketh laid the ball into the path of Campbell, who fired a powerful low drive into the far corner.
Substitute Lee Harkin was causing a nuisance of himself for the Fulham defence late in the contest, and it required a clever goalline clearance to deny the Irish striker from adding a third after he neatly clipped the ball over the onrushing Wickins before the ball was turned around the upright as it looked to be heading in.
Fulham believed they had halved the deficit with three minutes of the 90 remaining when Sonny Hilton corner ended up heading straight into the net, but after a moment of consultation, a free-kick was given in Wolves’ favour for a foul on Moulden.
But from an almost identical situation, Fulham were handed a route back into the game when Nya was penalised for a foul inside the penalty area from another Hilton corner, and the Fulham man found the bottom left corner having beaten the outstretched Moulden from the spot.
Despite the late drama, the men in gold and black stood strong to claim the three points to lift themselves up to joint top - alongside Fulham, Norwich and Aston Villa - in the Division 2 table.
James Collins’ side will be aiming to make it five from five at home to begin the 2021/22 season when the under-23s return to Aggborough next Monday evening to face Sunderland in Premier League 2 Division 2 from 6pm.
20/09 Fulham (H)
27/09 Sunderland (H)
01/10 Aston Villa (A)
05/10 Shrewsbury Town* (A) PJT
08/10 Swansea City (A) PLC
*indicates first-team opposition
Wolves: Moulden, Scott (Agboola 80), Estrada, Nya, Birtwistle, Griffiths (Hodnett 46), Cundle, Richards, Hesketh. Carty (Harkin 72), Campbell.
Unused subs: O’Shaughnessy, Kandola.
Fulham: Wickens, Tanton, Robinson, Odutayo, Larkeche, Hilton, Sanderson, Araujo (Okkas 78), Ablade (Williams 61), Harris, Olakigbe.
Unused subs: McNally, McAvoy.