Head coach Kenny Jackett refused to blame Wolves’ missing thousands for their Johnstone’s Paint Trophy exit – despite their lowest home crowd for more than 21 years.
Last night’s second-round tie against Notts County, which was televised live on Sky, attracted just 7,166.
It was Molineux’s lowest competitive gate since September 30, 1992, when 3,091 watched a 2-0 win over Peterborough in the Anglo Italian Cup.
The gate was around a third of Wolves’ League One home average and made for a low-key backdrop to the tribute to Molineux legend Peter Broadbent, whose funeral was held today.
But the head coach said the lack of support had nothing to do with his side’s toothless performance as they struggled in a goalless draw before going out 3-1 on penalties with Bjorn Sigurdarson, Kevin Foley and James Henry all missing their spot-kicks.
“I don’t think so,” he said. “Playing on such a fantastic pitch in a great stadium is motivation enough. I saw enough motivation but not always enough understanding or quality.”
Jackett was pleased with 20-year-old centre-back Ethan Ebanks-Landell, who impressed late on in his second senior outing in Wolves colours.
“Ethan grew into the game as it went on,” he said. “He made a couple of mistakes, as young players do, but then he won his headers, was first to the ball and his distribution improved.”
Ebanks-Landell was one of three inexperienced 20-year-olds who figured last night as Jake Cassidy played 62 minutes before being replaced by fellow striker Liam McAlinden, from Cannock.
“We tried a few different combinations of forwards with Cassidy and McAlinden getting on and it’s important we put that to good use in terms of the development of the side going forward,” added Jackett.
“It was invaluable experience for them.”
Jackett also praised keeper Carl Ikeme, who made five saves to keep his side in the game before the shoot-out.
“He’s had an excellent season so far,” he said. “One-on-one he always has a chance, but a lot of the shots they had were long range and he made good saves.”
Kevin Foley and Bjorn Sigurdarson blazed their spot kicks over the bar and Jackett was critical of their attempts.
“I was disappointed with our penalties,” he said.
“Bjorn and Kevin are normally very assured strikers of the ball, but you do need to be working the goalkeeper.”