A spirited performance wasn’t enough to prevent the Robins from slipping to a 1-0 defeat against Bolton Wanderers.
In a game of few clear chances, it took a special effort from Kyle Dempsey to separate the two teams, with a right-footed shot 20 yards from goal.
Head coach Wade Elliott made two changes to the starting XI that faced Port Vale a week ago, with Ben Williams and Ryan Jackson coming into the team. There was also a place on the bench for the club’s record signing Aidan Keena, after his arrival in Gloucestershire before the January transfer window deadline.
Wanderers’ first chance of the game came when Conor Bradley’s low cross found the feet of Dion Charles. The forward swivelled to make space for a shot, but Caleb Taylor came across sharply to block his effort.
Dempsey would then go close for the hosts with a well-struck effort from the edge of the penalty area, after Charlie Raglan’s half clearance. The shot bounced into the ground and narrowly wide of the post.
Elliot Bonds nearly converted from a similar opportunity, striking the ball with the outside of his boot but again his shot flew wide of the goal.
Bonds had another shot from the edge of the box nearly squirm into the bottom corner of the net, but it excruciatingly rolled past the wrong side of the post, with Trafford beaten because of a deflection.
In the second half, a mazy run by Taylor ended with a clever pass out to the left wing for Alfie May. The striker cut onto his right foot before delivering a cross onto the head of Will Goodwin, but his effort looped narrowly over the crossbar.
There were nervous moments when Charles received the ball to feet inside the six-yard box, but with Raglan exerting pressure, he struggled to get a shot off. When he eventually did, Luke Southwood was on hand to block the ball with his body.
A quickly taken free-kick almost caught the Robins napping, but Caleb Taylor threw himself in front of Charles’ shot to alleviate any danger.
However, 10 minutes from full time, the Trotters took the lead courtesy of Dempsey. The midfielder found space 20 yards from goal on the left hand side, and bent a right-footed shot into the bottom corner of the far side of the goal.
May almost found an equaliser for the Robins, when Trafford was caught in no-mans-land trying to rush out from his goal. May’s chipped effort bounced towards goal, but Eoin Toal managed to recover and clear for a corner.
Sercombe would then draw a save from Trafford a couple of minutes later. A half-cleared corner fell the way of the midfielder, who tried to bend a shot into the far corner with the outside of his foot, but unfortunately the Bolton ‘keeper managed to leap across and catch the ball.
Bolton: Trafford (GK), Jones, John, Santos ©, Charles, Morley, Shoretire (Lee 66’), Toal, Bradley, Dempsey (Sheehan 85’), Adeboyejo (Jerome 66’)
Unused: Dixon (GK), Sheehan, Isgrove, Mbete, Khumbeni
Robins: Southwood (GK), Long ©, Taylor, Raglan (Keena 81’), Jackson, Williams (Olayinka 75’), Bonds, Perry (Sercombe 70’), Olayinka, May, Goodwin (Norton 70’)
Unused: MacDonald (GK), Baggott, Brown
Referee: S S Gill