Chesterfield 2 Wolves U23s 1 - Report and pictures
[gallery] They say this a competition that no one cares about. Try telling that to the Wolves Under-23 youngsters.
Despite being down to 10 men for the majority of their first ever game in the EFL Trophy, Scott Sellars' charges gave absolutely everything against an experienced Chesterfield outfit,
Ethan Ebanks-Landell's red card half an hour in - when they were already 1-0 down - gave them a mountain to climb.
But they fought back to equalise. And then after Chesterfield had re-taken the lead, they ventured forward again, hit the post and missed a penalty in a game that promised little but delivered drama in front of a tiny crowd of 950.
They couldn't have done much more. And Sellars will take many positives out of the evening - as will Nouha Dicko, who played another 65 minutes as he continues his injury comeback.
There was a familiar face in the opposition line-up in the form of Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, playing against Wolves for the first time since leaving the club.
He looked destined to score from the outset and he was inches wide with an early header.
Chesterfield had made the better start but Wolves were the first to have the ball in the net. Connor Ronan's shot was parried and was inching towards the line – Dicko slammed home but was flagged offside.
The dangerous Ebanks-Blake – making his first appearance of the season after falling out of favour with the Spireites, then opened the scoring on 24 minutes, slamming home after Wolves failed to clear a corner.
His celebrations – unlike those of another ex-Wolves man Rajiv van la Parra on Saturday – were respectfully muted.
Wolves' task looked tricky – and it was made a lot harder just a few minutes later. Ethan Ebanks-Landell, like Dicko on his way back from injury, was sent off for a reckless over-the-top challenge on Jon Nolan.
England youth international Morgan Gibbs-White was sacrificed in a reshuffle, with Aaron Hayden entering the fray.
The young Wolves side struggled to make any headway, although Ronan wasn't too far wide with a deflected free kick.
After the break Ebanks-Blake continued to dominate proceedings and he should have had a hat-trick.
He went close twice in quick succession, firing over from the edge of the area and then flashing a close-range spin and volley inches over.
Dicko was withdrawn on 65 minutes after appearing to pull up with cramp – Donovan Wilson was his replacement.
Wolves, despite their man disadvantage, were seeing plenty of the ball without creating any chances.
But they produced an equaliser from nowhere on 74 minutes – Christian Herc took aim from 20 yards and sent a right-footed beauty past keeper Lloyd Allinson.
It was a great moment for the young side – but just two minutes later Chesterfield were back in front.
Substitute Kristian Dennis let fly from the edge of the area and it took a deflection and looped past Jon Flatt.
Wolves threw everything at the Chesterfield defence in a bid to force an equaliser – and take the game to penalties – but despite an Aaron Collins shot across the face of goal and a Wilson header which bounced off the post from the resulting corner, they couldn't find another equaliser.
They were presented with the perfect chance to make it 2-2 in injury time. A Collins run was ended when he was fouled in the box.
The young striker stepped up to take the penalty - but hit the post - and Wolves fell to a plucky defeat.
Wolves (4-2-3-1): Flatt; Simpson, Ebanks-Landell, Johnson, O'Hanlon; Gibbs-White (Hayden, 30), Herc; Ronan, Enobakhare (Collins, 82), Randall; Dicko (Wilson, 65). Subs: Burgoyne, Odoffin, Leak, McKenna.