Wolves U23s were promoted to the top tier of youth football after beating Stoke 2-0

Wolves U23 boss James Collins felt promotion was fully deserved for his side after they beat Stoke in a play-off to reach the top flight of youth football.

Luke Cundle scored both goals in a 2-0 win meaning Wolves will face Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal next season after a comfortable win in front of 4,936 fans at Molineux.

Collins said: “We were energetic, played good football and scored the goals at good times. Although it was a stressful second half we weren’t generally under pressure and throughout the season we got what we deserved which is promotion.

“In November, December I didn’t think that was likely, but in the second half of the season they were great. Learning how to win, work hard and get what you deserve is a great lesson.

“It’s just brilliant. I hope the fans enjoyed it – the second half wasn’t the most exciting football we’ve played here, which is understandable when you’re up 2-0 and trying to get promoted.

“Hopefully we’ve developed a style of football that represents the fans and the club. And they’ve seen the good players the academy is producing.”

Cundle opened the scoring early when Taylor Perry’s cut-back from the left caught him at the back post and he slammed the ball home.

It was then 2-0 before half-time when Cundle powered Hugo Bueno’s superb cross past Stoke keeper Tommy Simkin. That was Cundle’s 10th goal of the season at this level. The 20-year-old has spent most of the season on the bench for the first-team, starting games against Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle United.

Wolves had chances to extend their lead but Perry and Chem Campbell both fired too close at Simkin while Cundle nearly completed his hat trick but his shot was cleared off the line after a labyrinthine run by Joe Hodge and then Perry was in stoppage time denied by a brilliant save from Simkin.

Collins’ team had ended the season with just one defeat in 13 games to finish second in under-23 football’s second tier behind champions Fulham and qualify for the play-offs. Wolves defeated Norwich City on penalties at Molineux last week and advanced to the final.

They also reached the final of the Premier League Cup, losing to rivals West Bromwich Albion on penalties in front of more than 7,000 fans. Wolves U18s also reached the semi-finals of the FA Youth Cup that season.

(Photo: Jack Thomas – WWFC/Wolves via Getty Images)

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