Manchester United Under-23s 2 Wolves U23s 3
Wolves Under-23s clinched the Premier League 2 Division Two title after an incredible comeback against Manchester United.
United deservedly led 2-0 after Mason Greenwood and an Angel Gomes penalty and Rob Edwards’ side looked dead and buried. But Wolves pulled it round with a Lee O’Connor own goal in the 81st minute before striker Niall Ennis equalised on 89, then midfielder Sadu Diallo curled home the winner in the first minute of time added on.
The comeback sparked ecstatic scenes among the players, bench and the hundreds of supporters who made the trip to Leigh Sports Village to roar them on.
Wolves needed to win to all but secure the title and automatic promotion, with Reading and Southampton having to also win but by 11 and 12 goals respectively, at Stoke and at home to Sunderland, after the top three teams went into their final games on the same points.
Wolves had the first sniff of goal after six minutes when left wing back Cameron John was found in space and goalkeeper Paul Woolston came racing off his line. But John seemed to get caught in two minds. With striker Niall Ennis in the box waiting for the cross, he could only direct a wayward centre nowhere near the striker.
United, watched by manager Ole Gunnar Solskajer, fielded four players with first-team experience in James Garner, Angel Gomes, Tahith Chong and Mason Greenwood and their quality was soon in evidence as they started to gain control.
Striker Greenwood rolled a curling shot straight at Wolves goalkeeper Anders Sondegaard before Gomes’s effort was deflected wide for a corner. Gomes sighted goal again when he eyed an opening from 22 yards but could only direct a curling shot wide.
Immediately, Wolves broke from Sondegaard’s long kick which put Ryan Giles through with a half chance, but with only keeper Paul Woolston to beat, he could only fire against his legs.
It was an isolated chance though as United continued to attack and force Wolves back. Greenwood curled a free kick just wide from 25 yards before he put the hosts in front in the 31st minute.
Gomes did well to wriggle to the byeline on the left and his low cross was expertly finished off with a first-time effort diverted back towards where it came from Greenwood, 15 yards out on the angle.
United defender Lee O’Connor was booked for a late foul on Ryan Giles in the 33rd minute as Wolves looked to get up the pitch.
Wolves threatened through Diallo, whose rising left-foot drive sailed just wide from 20 yards after good work from wing back Oscar Buur then midfielder Pedro Goncalves.
The visitors seemed to gain in confidence and Niall Ennis looked like making a breakthrough for Wolves after twisting and turning inside two defenders, only for keeper Woolston to gratefully palm his shot upwards after it had been deflected at point-blank range.
Giles was next to try his luck as Wolves ended the half on an improved note when his curling shot was held by Woolston at full stretch.
United began the second half like a train, peppering the Wolves goal. Chong was involved three times, first unleashing a drive that was palmed away by Sondegaard then poking wide with the keeper to beat after showing dazzling footwork in the box following Gomes’s pass through.
Chong was unlucky for a third time when he fired against Sondegaard’s legs before Greenwood did the same as Wolves were briefly on the ropes.
It was no surprise when United doubled their lead in the 49th minute. The goal came from the spot after Chong tumbled under challenge from Ed Francis and Gomes dinked the ball over Sondegaard as he dived.
A comeback looked impossible at this stage, especially with how United were dominating the game.
Worse was to follow for Wolves when Ennis missed his kick after Pedro Goncalves teed him up on the edge of the box.
Goncalves then had a drive deflected wide before Max Kilman dribbled through only for his shot to hit Woolston’s legs.
United were forced into a change when Woolston was stretchered off to be replaced by Alex Fojticek, later sparking eight minutes of time added on at the end of the game.
Goncalves fired a rising effort wide after Ennis delayed his shot following a poor goal kick and Wolves had it all to do.
Substitute Austin Samuels, who replaced John to allow Ryan Giles to return to the wing, finally forced a save when his close range effort was smothered. Wolves were now putting United under heavy pressure and Goncalves hit the inside of the post with a drive from just inside the box.
But Wolves’ pressure told in the 81st minute. Ennis retrieved a corner after Fojticek palmed away Elliot Watt’s delivery under heavy pressure and the striker’s low effort deflected off defender O’Connor and trickled just over the line before it was cleared.
Ennis equalised in the 89th minute, curling into the roof of the net after a pull back from Goncalves.
The fourth official signalled eight minutes of time added on but within 60 seconds Wolves were in dreamland.
Diallo looked up and picked his spot with a low curling effort into the bottom corner of the net to send the players, Wolves’ bench and hundreds of fans into delirium.
United (4-2-3-1): Woolston (Fojticek 66); Olosunde, Ercolani (Warren 69), O’Connor, Tanner; Levitt, Garner; Barlow, Gomes, Chong; Greenwood.
Subs: Galbraith, Bohui, Elanga.
Wolves (3-5-2): Sondegaard; Sanderson, Francis, Kilman; Buur, Goncalves, Watt, Diallo (Alves 90+3), John (Samuels 59); Ennis, Giles.
Subs: Kitolano, Pardington (gk), Heredia.
Referee: Leigh Doughty.