James Collins admitted his young Wolves side were second best throughout their defeat at Crewe Alexandra, which saw the under-21s fall out of the Papa John’s Trophy in the group stages.
Wolves needed to win at Gresty Road and rely on other results to go their way if they were to reach the knockout stages, but an under-par performance condemned Collins’ development side to a 3-0 loss. Although the head coach was disappointed to have not progressed in the competition, he believes there are plenty of lessons for his players to learn which will help them in their careers.
On dropping out of the competition
“We were well beat. From minute one, we didn’t start well. We allowed them to get on the front foot and they overpowered us early on, had come chances, got the goal, and it took us a while to really settle into the game.
“We did then settle a bit, but almost throughout the night we were second best. We’ve got disappointed boys in there because they like to come to these nights and showcase their talents, but we didn’t do well enough tonight.”
On coming up short at Crewe
“They’ve got to realise that they have to earn the right to play every game you play. The boys played well Friday against West Brom, in front of a nice crowd at Molineux, I thought they played really well that night and they thought they played really well that night.
“But maybe they thought they’d just be able to turn up here tonight and that would carry on. But what they’ve got to realise is that game’s gone, and the next game’s here, and from minute one, you have to be at it, and I don’t think we were.
“We didn’t get enough balls in behind, we didn’t pick up enough second balls – I think our second ball count in the first-half was 30 per cent – we were poor on the throw-ins which we were terrific at the other night, so straight away you’re up against it.
“They did their press better than we did ours, and I thought both teams played good football, and in pockets we played some really good football, but a lot of it was in our own half to get out of tight spots, and although we did that at times, it was a disappointing performance.”
On areas of disappointment
“Lessons like tonight are vital for under-23 players. It hurts at the moment because we all want to win. We all want to compete and we all want to win.
“But more importantly for me, I wanted them to showcase to Crewe what they’re about, because some of these might need to go on loan at some point and if I say, ‘He’s a good player and he’s a good player,’ they might look at tonight and think, ‘I’m not so sure.’
“That was the disappointment for me; we didn’t showcase what we’ve got, we didn’t play as well as we can play. You can’t always bank on the results, especially against league teams, but what you can do is play to the best of your ability and work to the best of your ability, and I don’t think we did.”