Albion and Wolves served up a snapshot of their seasons last night in a junior Black Country derby bussed out of the region to Coventry’s Ricoh Stadium.
A solitary goal from Wolves striker Bradley Reid settled an absorbing and entertaining Under 21s run-through of the contest which has been lost at senior level for the past two seasons.
And that says everything about the momentum of the old rivals’ respective campaigns as a troubled Albion knuckle down to fight for Premier League survival while Wolves revel in a genuine spirit of re-birth under Kenny Jackett.
It is the gold and black youngsters who were able to go bouncing into training today after shading a contest which had enterprise and endeavour in equal measures.
The exultant shout at the final whistle of Wolves goalkeeper Jon Flatt, as his team repelled one final Baggies assault for an equaliser, said everything about how competitive the fixture remains even below first-team level.
Certainly match-winner Reid will be revelling in his first derby winner as it climaxed a stand-out performance from the 18-year-old striker recruited from Wrexham in the September of Stale Solbakken’s regime.
Reid nagged away with pace, power and skill at Albion’s central defence where the powerful Donervorn Daniels and Callum Jones were never able to relax in his presence.
There were other eye-catching performances, with left-back Jordan Cranston, support striker Sam Whittall, wide man Robbie Parry and the gifted Eusebio all making an impression.
For Albion, Liam O’Neill’s composed holding play in midfield, with strong support from Aaron Birch, was a prominent feature.
Wolves, having so nearly caught Albion cold with a goal after 40 seconds when a Reid effort struck the woodwork from a Dominic Iorfa cross, claimed their winner with the striker’s clinical header from a superb Cranston cross.
Albion missed their best chance of an equaliser in the last 10 minutes when a mis-hit Flatt kick gave Roofe his team’s clearest chance of the night. But his attempt to chip the Wolves keeper was safely plucked down by Flatt and Wolves held out for a win to add to the feelgood factor at Molineux.
Albion: Rose; Atkinson (Donnellan 90), Daniels, Jones, Gayle; O’Neil; Roofe, Birch (Francis 85), Nabi; Jones, O’Sulllivan (Ward 75). Subs not used: Palmer, Howkins.
Wolves: Flatt; Iorfa, Tank, Elokobi, Cranston; Jakobsson, Kosatrna, Eusebio (Kellerman 53), Parry; Whittal; Reid. Subs not used: Torras, Keita, Hause, Erdey.