Rovers bow out of the Papa John’s Trophy as a Fabio Silva brace earns three points for Wolves U21s on the night.
The home side started the tie brightly and were unfortunate to go behind on the 15 minute mark thanks to a Fabio Silva goal. The young Wanderers only led for eight minutes before James Coppinger was taken out in the box and Fejiri Okenabirhie equalised from the spot.
The second-half looked to be petering out as half-chances came and went for both sides but the game was always likely to come down to one big chance and that moment fell to Silva who hit a winner in the 88th minute.
Rovers made a number of changes to their starting XI with Liam Ravenhill making his first start for the club after making his debut on the previous Saturday and stand-in manager Andy Butler made his first start since re-signing for the club in the summer.
Rovers started brightly and Jason Lokilo, on his first start since September, started really brightly down the right beating players and sending cross after cross flashing across the face of John Ruddy’s goal.
Butler tested the keeper with a header and Reece James forced a save when he tried to curl an effort inside the near post while James Coppinger’s shot from distance wasn’t far away at all.
Despite a positive start, it was Wolves who took the lead showing how clinical the young side could be. 18-year-old Fabio Silva, who arrived at the Molineux in the summer for a massive £35 million, showed true strikers’ instincts to pounce on a clearance by Cameron John and squeeze the ball past Louis Jones from a narrow angle.
The visitors only held the lead for eight minutes as Coppinger was taken out in the box leaving referee James Oldham to point to the spot. Fejiri made no mistakes converting from 12-yards.
Both sides continued to create chances and Lokilo continued to be Rovers’ best outlet with Coppinger and Ravenhill both going close from crosses while Jones made an excellent save to deny Silva a second from close range.
Rovers made a change at half-time with Joe Wright coming on to replace Brad Halliday at right back. His first contribution to the game was to win a free kick in a dangerous position and give Rovers their first chance of the half as Ed Williams headed just over from the cross.
Silva continued to look a threat. Brilliant footwork by the striker saw him turn away from John and Butler but his shot wasn’t quite as composed, and he fired wide of Jones’ post.
Rovers best play continued to come down the right-hand side. Coppinger’s ball in from the right required an important touch from the Wolves defence to stop it being tapped in by a queue of players in red and white. Lokilo’s cross was flashed wide by Okenabirhie and Wright’s ball in caused chaos without troubling keeper Ruddy.
Wolves side always carried a threat though and every attack looked dangerous. Intelligent defending from Butler pressurised Theo Corbeanu into shooting wide while John was snuffing out plenty of attacks around the edge of the box.
The slick passing that had been the hallmark of both sides early on began to fade as the match wore on and both sides started to tire. It seemed both teams were resigned to penalties which was evident with Rovers introduction of skipper Ben Whiteman for Ravenhill.
But Wolves were clinical with their chances and when Silva found himself one-on-one with Jones – he left the goalkeeper with no chance as he fired confidently into the net in the 88th minute to snatch the points and knock Rovers out of the competition.