Cheltenham Town 1, Wolverhampton Wanderers 3
Cheltenham Town opened their pre-season programme with defeat by Wolverhampton Wanderers at Whaddon Road this evening.
The newly promoted Championship side proved a stern test and ran out comfortable winners on a sweaty evening, but Mark Yates will be satisfied with his squad’s first outing of the summer.
Sako Bakary, David Edwards and Leon Clarke had put the visitors into a three-goal lead by the time Matt Richards rifled home a 20-yard free-kick with half-hour to play.
Four of the manager’s summer acquisitions started here, with Trevor Carson (in goal), Lee Vaughan (right back), Asa Hall (right midfield) and Andrew Hawarth (left midfield) playing at least an hour of this one.
The Robins will continue their preparations for the new season at Evesham United’s Spears and Hartwell Jubilee Stadium tomorrow afternoon (3pm kick-off).
Wolves enjoyed the lion’s share of possession in the first half and a created a handful of decent chances to carry a two-goal advantage into the break.
Sako found David Edwards with a ninth minute cross, but the Welsh international midfielder’s effort was wayward.
Sako missed a great chance of his own eight minutes later, stabbing wide a fine diagonal ball by Kevin McDonald.
Cheltenham produced their first chance of note with 20 minutes played although Byron Harrison couldn’t get enough on his header to trouble Carl Ikeme, the Wolves number one.
A moment later Lee Vaughan, skipper for the evening, saw a 20-yarder well saved.
But Wolves made their dominance count 10 minutes before the break by scoring two in a minute.
First Michael Jacobs was tripped by Troy Brown to earn a penalty, which Sako cheekily floated down the middle of the goal to beat Trevor Carson.
Then the French-born Malian turned provider, finding Nouha Dicko from the left who teed up Edwards to crash home from close range.
Wolves swapped their team during the interval and extended their lead four minutes after the restart when Leon Clarke raced onto a long ball before beating Carson at his near post.
Matt Richards reduced the deficit on the hour, smashing home a 20-yard free-kick after Harrison had been impeded by Kortney House.
Elliott was a whisker away from making it two just a minute later, heading over Asa Hall’s delivery from the left.
At the other end, Clarke hit the left upright with a low shot while Rajiv Van La Parra wasted a good chance from six yards.
A procession of substitutions handed everyone bar James Bowen and trialist goalkeeper Ben McNamara a run out as the game drew to a close.
Former trialist Jack Deaman, ex-Wolves defender Andre Street, former Nottingham Forest midfielder Kieran Wallace and Duncan Culley were all given the opportunity to impress in the closing stages.
Joe Hanks, Zack Kotwica, Adam Powell and Bobbie Dale also had the chance to stretch their legs and will be handed a longer run out tomorrow afternoon against Paul Collicut’s Evesham United.
CHELTENHAM TOWN (4-4-2): Carson; Vaughan (c) (Hanks 75), Brown (Deaman 61), Elliott (Street 72), Braham-Barrett (Black 46); Hall (Williams 72), Taylor , Richards (Powell 75) (Wallace 72), Haworth (Kotwica 61); Gornell (Dale 72), Harrison (Culley 61). Subs not used:
WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS FIRST HALF (4-2-3-1): Ikheme; Ricketts (c), Batth, Stearman, Golbourne; Evans, McDonald; Jacobs, Edwards, Sako; Dicko.
WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS SECOND HALF (4-4-2): Doherty, Ebanks-Landell, Hause, Foley; Henry, Price, Rowe, Van La Parra; Clarke, McAlinden.
REFEREE: O Langford
ATTENDANCE: 1,705 (832 from Wolverhampton)