Shrewsbury Town 3 (Bloxham 73, Lloyd 79, Pyke 90) Wolves under-21s 1 (Hesketh 31)
A young Wolves development side put up a valiant fight in their second Papa John Trophy group stage clash away at Shrewsbury Town, before eventually falling to the League One outfit in the final 20 minutes of the match.
Owen Hesketh gave Wolves under-21s a first-half lead when he reached a rebound first to fire the ball home, but the hosts hit back late on in the game as the Wolves players began to tire, with Tom Bloxham, Louis Lloyd and Rekeil Pyke capitalising on long balls which caught out the old gold defence to secure the three points and condemn the under-21s to their first defeat of the 2021/22 EFL Trophy.
Wolves began the game in positive fashion and were not overawed by their League One opposition, with Chem Campbell and Harry Birtwistle both creating openings for the visitors which were comfortably dealt with by Shrewsbury goalkeeper – and Wolves Academy graduate – Harry Burgoyne.
The hosts were calling for a penalty within the opening ten minutes as Bloxham raced through the Wolves midfield before reaching the penalty area and going down under minimal contact from Dexter Lembikisa but – fortunately for Wolves – the referee was unmoved by the Shrewsbury appeals.
Hearts were in mouths for Wolves with 17 minutes on the clock, as a Shrewsbury corner, whipped into the danger zone by Nathaniel Ogbeta, was missed by everyone in the area and looked to be creeping inside the far post, but Wolves keeper Louie Moulden was able to watch it narrowly go wide at the other side of the upright.
Wolves were making chances of their own as the first-half wore on, with Campbell and Jack Hodnett setting aim at Burgoyne’s goal but the pair were unable to test the Shrewsbury stopper with their efforts from the edge of the box trickling wide.
Having continued to look for goal, Wolves broke the deadlock half an hour into the game, as Hesketh pounced on a Hodnett shot had been blocked in the penalty area and the midfielder was on hand to guide the ball beyond Burgoyne to give his side the lead.
The visitors were growing in confidence towards the break, and almost doubled their lead when Campbell was able to take aim from a free-kick just outside the penalty area, but the winger was denied by the heads of the Shrewsbury wall.
Wolves were peppering the Shrewsbury goal with chances, as Hodnett sent his marker twisting and turning before lifting a teasing cross into the penalty area which was almost pounced upon by Campbell, but Burgoyne gathered as he dived at the feet of the Wolves winger.
Half-time: Shrewsbury 0-1 Wolves
Wolves got out of the traps quickly in the second period, as Hesketh flashed a shot from long-range just shy of the crossbar, and Conor Carty pulled an excellent save from Burgoyne when his flicked header seemed to be looping into the top corner, but the keeper was at full stretch to push the ball over the bar.
In between those chances, the home supporters believed they had equalised when an Ogbeta free-kick was headed into the back of the net by substitute Matthew Pennington, but the home side’s joy was short-lived as the assistant immediately flagged for offside against the defender.
However, Shrewsbury did get their equalising goal, when a long ball over the top of the Wolves defence was picked up by Bloxham inside the penalty area, and the forward took a touch before guiding a low drive beyond Moulden and into the bottom left corner of the net.
It didn’t take long for the hosts to turn the game on its head, as another ball over the top of the Wolves defence wasn’t dealt with first time, and having got the ball wide to Ogbeta, his cross landed on the head of Lloyd, who jumped highest between two black shirts to guide the ball past Moulden.
Shrewsbury were beginning to turn the screw on Wolves and came inches away from adding a third within the final 10 minutes of the game when another Ogbeta cross found its way to Charlie Caton on the edge of the visitors’ penalty area, but he was denied by the post, with the rebound falling into Moulden’s grasps.
Wolves almost snatched an equaliser of their own with five minutes remaining when a cross by Lee Harkin found its way to Hesketh who slammed his first touch effort against the top of the crossbar with Burgoyne beaten.
With the legs tiring in the young Wolves players, Shrewsbury were able to extend their lead when Pyke was able to tap home after Sam Cosgrove used his power to get past Pascal Estrada and tee up his teammate for the easiest of finishes from the centre of the penalty area.
Full-time: Shrewsbury 3-1 Wolves