STOKE CITY’S Under-18s held off a strong Wolverhampton Wanderers outfit to earn a point following their 0-0 draw at Clayton Wood Training Ground on Saturday afternoon.
The visitors had the better of the encounter, but the Potters defended resolutely and could have won the game in the last minute had the Wolves ‘keeper not denied Nathan Ricketts-Hopkinson.
Wanderers created the first chance of the game when Gary O’Neill crossed in a low ball, but Ed Sanders made a vital interception to deny David Moli a simple finish. Kieran Monlouis then had the first shot of the game, but his effort flew over the bar.
Shane Fagan was named as Potters ‘keeper due to an injury to regular number one and captain Dale Eve, and he had midfielder Eddy Lecygne to thank 25 minutes in.
The goalie ran out to close down the Wolves striker who knocked the ball past him, but Lecygne was alert to the danger and was able to intercept his low pass across the box.
The Potters broke quickly from that attack and Charlie Ward attempted an ambitious half volley that went wide of the target. Fagan was on hand to deny the lively Moli, and the striker was again denied two minutes later after a great block by Joseph Hulme.
Wolves were trying hard to find a goal just before half-time and Ibrahim Keita somehow didn’t connect with Moli’s cross when he was free just six-yards out, and Fagan made a great save to deny Moli a minute later to ensure Stoke went into the break level.
The Potters produced the move of the match in the second period with a quick fluid breakaway that should have resulted in a goal. Ward powered down the right wing and played the ball to Ollie Shenton who teed up Jake Cook, but the substitute fired his first-time shot just wide of the target.
Fagan continued to frustrate Wolves with another superb save to deny Keita and Sanders was on hand to block the follow up on the line. Shenton then missed another guilt edged chance for the Potters following Derice Richards’ knock down in the box, but the midfielder side-footed his shot wide.
The visitors had the ball in the back of the net from a corner through central defender Ryan Schofield, but the referee had already blown for a foul in the build-up.
Stoke were indebted to their ‘keeper as Fagan made yet another save after pushing a dipping shot over the bar and Stoke had a chance of their own to win it late on.
Substitute Ricketts-Hopkinson was played through on goal but his low shot was well saved by the Wolves ‘keeper, and the Stoke striker’s follow up was off target.
Stoke City: Fagan; Westley, Pickerill, Sanders, Hulme; Lecygne, Ward (Pringle 73), Shenton (Ricketts-Hopkinson 76), Makrillos (Cook 45), Monlouis; Richards.