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James Collins: Wolves youngsters deserve promotion

Delighted Wolves under-23 chief James Collins felt his young side got what they deserved for a stunning second half of the campaign after sealing Premier League 2 promotion.

Wolves U23's celebrate (Getty)
Wolves U23's celebrate (Getty)

Luke Cundle struck an excellent first-half double as Wolves comfortably saw off Stoke 2-0 in the Division Two play-off final in front of almost 5,000 fans at Molineux.

Collins' side were beaten inside 90 minutes just twice in 19 games after Christmas on their charge up the second tier standings to finish runners-up.

And Cundle's brace made light work of a final with first-team head coach Bruno Lage and executive chairman Jeff Shi in attendance as Hugo Bueno and Joe Hodge were among the youngsters who shone.

"I wouldn't disrespect them and say it was comfortable because they're a good side and they came and gave us a tough game," said under-23s head coach Collins after his young side completed the trophy lift in front of a near-full Billy Wright Stand.

"But I thought our start to the game helped us, it gave us a real foothold in the game, I thought we were energetic, played some good football and then when you're 2-0 up it's a stick or twist job - you don't quite know.

"The boys did get a bit twitchy, I must admit. I tried to get them to keep going at half-time and not sit in second half.

"We balanced that OK and, although it was a stressful second half, I didn't feel though we were under the cosh.

"I think over the season we got what we deserved, which is promotion out of this division, which around November and December I didn't see likely - but in the second half of the season the boys have been terrific.

"I'm delighted they've got what they deserved, because learning how to win, working hard and getting what you deserve is a good lesson for them."

It has been an exhaustive end to the season for Wolves' second string. They were edged out on penalties in front of a booming crowd in the Premier League Cup final against Albion after a fine performance before qualifying for the promotion shootout against Stoke with a nervy spot-kick success over Norwich.

Collins admits experience of nights like that against the Baggies was a useful motivation for his side.

When asked if it was tough to lift his youngsters, Collins replied: "It wasn't really, no. The lads were gutted but I think they felt it was probably one of our best performances of the season, I thought we were excellent and so did they.

"That spurred them on a little bit, thinking 'that won't happen again', playing in front of that crowd against West Brom, the noise our fans made was incredible.

"Once you've done that, you know you can do it and how well you played, that means we've got used to nights like tonight, we've been spoiled, played our last three league games here, two play-off games here, they've got used to it and that's great going into their Premier League and Football League careers, playing with that maturity and quality."

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