Wednesday , October 4 2023

Wolverhampton Wanderers lift 2023 PL NextGen Cup in Mumbai!

Wolverhampton Wanderers Under-19s were victorious in the Premier League Next Generation Cup final, beating Stellenbosch FC on penalties to lift the trophy in Mumbai.

Following a 1-1 draw after 70 minutes, the Old Gold prevailed from 12 yards and scored all five penalties, with Aaron Keto-Diyawa dispatching the crucial spot-kick after Joe Young’s early save had given James Collins’ side the advantage in the shoot-out.

As expected in a final, the opening 20 minutes were cagey, with Stellenbosch looking the team keen to apply the early pressure.

However, Wolves grew into their stride and there were shouts for a penalty after a neat passage of play resulted in a deflected cross falling into the path of Nathan Fraser. The striker looked to be brought down by the defender and the arms of the Wolves players were raised, but the referee was quick to dismiss the claims.

The Old Gold were then denied in superb fashion by Stellenbosch goalkeeper De Jean Ah-Shene, who produced a five save to deny Harvey Griffiths.

However, the midfielder wasn’t to be stopped for a second time as he gave Collins’ side the lead from the resulting corner. Owen Hesketh delivered a teasing in-swinging ball and Griffiths rose highest to head home for the opening goal.

Stellenbosch came close to a leveller on the stroke of half-time, but Roy-Keane Avontuur was unable to divert his free header on target.

The South Africans came out knowing they required an equaliser to get back into the game, and they got just that 12 minutes into the second half. After working some space some 20 yards out, Antonio Van Wyk let fly with an attempt that cannoned off the inside of the post and into the net.

Wolves looked to respond by going back into the lead and after a corner routine worked its way back to Hesketh, as the midfielder forced Ah-Shene to palm the ball away from danger.

At the other end, Young had to be at his very best to deny Avontuur with a top-class diving save which saw him claw the ball behind for a corner.

Collins made a double switch with 10 minutes on the clock remaining, with Tyler Roberts and Dylan Scicluna providing the fresh legs in place of Josh Esen and Ty Barnett.

Roberts looked dangerous following his introduction and his cross gave Owen Farmer the chance to head inside the area, but he couldn’t quite keep it down as the ball sailed over the top.

With 70 minutes up, the final required penalties and after Young had saved from Van Wyk, Wolves clinically netted all of their five with Oliver Tipton, Griffiths, Farmer and Hesketh giving Keto-Diyawa the opportunity to win it. The full-back made no mistake, picking out the bottom right corner to spark jubilant scenes and ensure the trophy made its way back to Wolverhampton.

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