MATCH REPORT: Rugby Town 0-3 Wolverhampton Wanderers

Jamie Denley
A youthful Wolves side progress to the final eight of the Birmingham Senior Cup

A youthful Wolves side progress to the third round of the Birmingham Senior Cup following a comfortable 3-0 victory against Rugby Town.

In a cagey opening 15 minutes at Butlin Road, both sides looked to establish a foothold in the game from set-pieces, with Rugby’s Luke English causing issues from a series of long throws early on.

Wolves meanwhile were eager to break the Town’s high line with the offside flag coming to the hosts’ rescue on a number of occasions.

Smart work from Wolves forward Lee Harkin, however, soon separated the two sides. A searching ball from Aaron Keto-Diwaya found Lee Harkin in space on the left-hand side, getting the better of his man as he cut inside before curling his effort into the bottom right-hand corner – a deflection from one of the Rugby backline giving goalkeeper Matt Hill no chance in between the sticks.

The visitors came close to immediately doubling their lead with Dongda He putting pressure on the Rugby keeper, leaving little time to clear the danger with his punt up field deflected behind for a goal kick by the Wolves no.9.

Rugby often found themselves forcing the ball long to force an opening against a young Wolverhampton backline. A sharp ball over the top found Luke English in behind but Wolves no.1 Jimmy Storer was quick off his line to divert the danger away.

Wolves then quickly pounced on the counter with Jack Hodnett’s cross dropping to Dylan Scicluna, with his first-time effort fired narrowly wide of the keeper’s near post.

The visitors were gifted a great opportunity shortly after the half-hour mark to make it two following a poor clearance out from the back, with Josh Esen pouncing on the loose ball before firing across goal to the awaiting Dongda He in the middle, only to be denied by a perfect last-ditch tackle from a sky-blue shirt.

Rugby’s best chances of the half came via set-pieces but failed to make the most of the promising opportunities as they trailed going into the break while Wolves lacked the clinical edge to put the game out of sight in the first 45 minutes.

The hosts came out for the second half with their tails up, however, as they looked to threaten from a series of dead ball scenarios once more. A moment of pandemonium soon followed with the Rugby no.1 caught in no man’s land as he was rounded outside the penalty area, but smart defending saw He’s shot blocked on the line.

While a second for Wolves looked inevitable, Town had a glorious chance to level the scores after Filozofe Mabete brought down his man in the penalty area. Jimmy Storer was once again the hero, however, with a strong palm to deny Ryan Seal from the spot.

A wake-up call for the visitors, Wolves capitalised on Storer’s heroics with a great ball from Keto-Diwaya to pick out Lee Harkin minutes later. The Wolves no.10 made the most of the old gold shirts up in support, with Esen and He awaiting around the box before the latter picked out 18-year-old Dylan Scicluna, who calmly dispatched past Hill from close range just shy of the hour mark.

Wolves looked eager to build on their two-goal advantage with some fresh legs in the final proceedings, with substitute Fabian Reynolds looking lively before seeing his shot saved at the near post.

After being involved in the build-up of the first two goals, Keto-Diwaya was once again at the forefront of the action as Wolves put the game to bed with a third goal with five minutes to play. A driving run from the Wolves no.3 from deep was met with a quick give-and-go from an old gold shirt, before running through on goal and tucking away his effort underneath the keeper to secure their spot in the next round of the competition.

Wolverhampton Wanderers now progress to the last 16 of the tournament as they look to secure their eighth Birmingham Senior Cup title.