Wolves defender Ollie Tipton marked captaining the under-23s for the first time by guiding his side to a clean sheet and a crucial point against West Ham United in their quest to qualify for the next stage of the Premier League Cup.
The boyhood Wolves supporter has worn the armband at various levels throughout the Academy, and despite 2021/22 being just his first full season in the development side, the second-year scholar is one of the senior players in a very young under-23 outfit.
But by taking the side who top the Premier League 2 Division 1 table all the way in Monday afternoon’s contest, and even had the best opportunities to win the match, the centre-back felt Wolves showed what can be achieved if the players stick together, in spite of their young age.
On a goalless draw with West Ham
“I thought we played well. I thought we stuck at it really well and we didn’t give much away to them.
“We could feel the confidence growing in the team in the first-half, just believing in ourselves, taking each game as it comes and believing that we can do it if we just stick together. If we play as a team, we know we can do it.
“We had two disallowed goals, a one-on-one at the end, so I thought we played well and stuck in well, dug a point out and hopefully that will mean qualification to the next round.”
On keeping a clean sheet
“We’ve had two tough results recently, conceding four at Fulham and five at Norwich, and we knew it was going to be a tough run, but we really pulled through.
“Having conceded nine goals in two games, the clean sheet meant a lot. It was good for our confidence as a back five and as a team, to be fair, because we defend as a team.
“We stuck together as a team and you can see the togetherness of the team, I thought, and we did well to get a point, although maybe we should have got more from the game.”
On being unlucky in front of goal
“As the game went on, we were the team who looked most likely to score. We had some good chances in there.
“Tinks’ [Tyler Roberts] one-on-one at the end, which he was unlucky, it was a great pass and a great run from Tink as well, and we were unlucky. On another day, that might go in.
“On another day, the offside goals could possibly have been given. I thought the first one was tight, to be honest.”
On wearing the captain’s armband
“It’s really, really good. I was happy when I came in and he [James Collins] said I was captain, it put a smile on my face. I’ve captained the teams in the academy and at under-18s, but this is just the next level, it’s the next step in my career.
“I play in the middle of the back three, so it’s a key area to link the team, hold the line, so it meant a lot when he said I was captain.
“I know the players, I know what their strengths are, so can get them together. We have got a young team, a very young team, but today showed that although we are really young, we can fight for each other, stick in there and hold against arguably the best [under-23] team in the country at the minute.”
Wolves under-23s were due to end 2021 with a visit to Newcastle United on Monday evening, but due to the number of Covid-19 cases currently within the Magpies' development squad, the decision has been made - in conjunction with the Premier League - for the match to be postponed.