Papa John’s Trophy report | Crewe 3-0 Wolves

Crewe 3 (Mandron 12 & 36, Robbins 79) Wolves U21s 0

This season’s Papa John’s Trophy journey came to an end at the group stages for Wolves under-21s, who were well beaten in their final tie at Crewe Alexandra. Needing a win and results elsewhere to go their way, it always looked an uphill task for James Collins’ group, who end the campaign on two points.

A first-half Mikael Mandron brace put the League One side in control in Cheshire and the tie looked already looked beyond Wolves before Joe Robbins’ deflected strike made it three. The visitors threatened at times, and came close through Harry Birtwistle, but couldn’t find a goal of their own and exited the competition.

Dropping into the team to pass on his experience and gain valuable gametime was goalkeeper John Ruddy, who wasted little showing his quality, flying at full-stretch to turn away J’Neil Bennett’s effort, before collecting Josh Lundstram’s header from the following corner, after the Crewe man was left unmarked.

However, when the stopper was left exposed on 13 minutes, there was nothing he could do to avoid the hosts taking the lead, as Mandron slotted past him. Ruddy did at least save low to deny Bennett and breathed a sigh of relief when Lundstram’s strike cannoned off the post, as the Alex began dominantly.

Wolves' first opening took 25 minutes to arrive but should have been the equaliser. Chem Campbell’s inswinger found the run of Birtwistle at the back post, but the Singaporean could only direct his shot straight at Will Jaaskelainen.

Crewe benefited from the missed opportunity soon after, as Regan Griffiths’ cross was headed on to the post by Mandron, but as Wolves appealed for offside, the rebound fell nicely for the striker to fire past Ruddy.

Half-time | Crewe 2-0 Wolves

Wolves did improve after the break but having not found an early route back into the game, they were let off the hook when Oli Feeney ran through and sliced wide of the mark. As for the old gold, Campbell tried his luck from range but failed to call Jaaskelainen into action.

In truth, it was Crewe who looked the more dangerous side and, after they had a goal ruled out for offside, the hosts put the game beyond doubt when Robbins let fly and watched his strike take a huge deflection past the luckless Ruddy.

Wolves’ evening was summed up in injury time with substitute Lee Harkin got in but couldn’t find the finish, before laying off for Owen Hesketh, who was denied by brave Alex defending, as Wolves exited the Papa John’s Trophy.

Full-time | Crewe 3-0 Wolves

Crewe | Jaaskelainen, Thomas (Knight 68), Mandron (Long 68), Finney, McFadzean, Griffiths, Lundstram, Woodthorpe, Robbins, Williams, Bennett (Tabiner 68).

Unused subs | Richards, Offord, Robertson, Kashket.

Wolves | Ruddy, Birtwistle, Buur (Richards 65), Tipton, Nya, Lembikisa (Bueno 65), Cundle, Hodnett, Hesketh, Campbell, Carty (Harkin 65).

Unused subs | O’Shaughnessy, Bugarin, Estrada, Farmer.