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Stale Solbakken’s reign as Wolves manager got off to a winning start as the Championship side concluded a week long training camp in Ireland with a comfortable 5-1 victory over Bray Wanderers.
The former Norwegian international took over from Terry Connor at Molinuex at the end of the last campaign and the new boss would have been pleased with the work out his players received in what was their first pre-season fixture.
Frank Nouble scored on his debut before Kieran Marty Waters’ effort levelled matters up prior to the break, however a completely different Wolves side upped the pace after the interval as a Steven Fletcher brace, Matt Jarvis and former Bohemians defender Matt Doherty secured the win.
Inevitably Pat Devlin made wholesale changes to the side that faced Shamrock Rovers less than 24 hours before hand as he gave some of his new signings a chance to impress on a sunny afternoon by the sea.
After a slow start to the game, former Hammer Nouble had the first sight on goal as he was set clear of the Seagulls defence. After rounding the advancing Brian Kane, his heavy touch meant he could only flick it back to Adam Hammill to tee up Sylvan Ebanks-Blake but his curling effort just went over.
It seemed it would be all one way traffic after the visitors hit the front on 14 minutes. Kevin Foley, who turned down Giovanni Trapattoni’s offer to return to the Irish set up on Friday, found Nouble in acres of space in the box and after the striker held off the challenge, he found the far corner via the post.
Bray weren’t going to be rolled over though and began to keep possession very well but failed to test the Wolves rear guard. Kieran Marty Waters was looking dangerous as ever and it was his persistence that brought the home side level. Carl Ikeme in the Wolves goal took too long to clear is lines from a Foley back pass and the lively Waters nipped in to poke home. However, he was injured in the process of scoring and reports from the Bray dressing room suggest he dislocated his knee cap.
As expected, Solbakken gave all his squad some game time as he replaced the whole side at the break. It was the introduction of Fletcher, Jarvis and the midfield duo of Nenad Milijas and Michael Kightly which changed the game as the visitors stepped up several gears.
Pictures from Jason O'Callaghan at Bray v Wolves and Shels v Millwall friendly and Peter Fitzpatrick at Bray v Scunthorpe
Wolves re-took the lead shortly after the break when Anthony Forde’s deep cross was headed back across goal by Jarvis for Fletcher to acrobatically fire home from a couple of yards.
The recently relegated side could sense blood and went close to doubling their lead within seconds. Jarvis’ shot from a tight angle was well saved by Kane before Fletcher’s shot was cleared off the line from the resulting corner.
It wasn’t long before they did score the third goal as the very dangerous Jarvis broke through the Seagulls defence and fired past Kane from the penalty spot. Pat Devlin emptied his bench during the second period as his players began to tire.
The visitors then went through the motions in the final quarter but still looked threatening in attack. After Bray failed to clear their lines on several occasions, the ball fell to left back Matt Doherty, who was given far too much time and the former Bohemians defender fired into the top corner past Kane.
They weren’t finished there however as the very impressive Michael Kightly once again provided another killer ball for Fletcher to run onto and score his second and Wolves’ fifth.
Despite the score line, it was an encouraging display by Pat Devlin’s young side and they will have taken plenty from a game against top quality opposition.
Wolves head home on Sunday as they prepare for the new season; they play Walsall in another friendly next weekend while Bray face Bradford City as they have a week off from domestic action.
Bray Wanderers: Brian Kane; Ryan Dooney (Paul Moffatt 57), Conor Butler (Kevin Knight 61), Dave Webster, Pat Seery; Daire Doyle, Lee Dixon (Conor Early 65), Graham Kelly (Dane Massey71), Sean Hurley (Jonathan Kelty 46); Brendan King (Colm Tresson 69), Kieran Marty Waters (Ismahdl Akinded 34)
Subs not used: Darren Quigley, Stephen McGuinness.
Wolverhampton Wanderers: (1st half) Karl Ikene; Kevin Foley, Danny Batth, Christophe Berra, George Elokobi; Adam Hammill, Dave Edwards, Eggert Jonsson, Karl Henry; Frank Nouble, Sylvan Ebanks-Blake.
(2nd half) Dorus de Vries; Ronald Zubar, Richard Stearman, Roger Johnson, Matt Doherty; Anthony Forde, Nenad Milijas, David Davis, Michael Kightly, Matt Jarvis; Steven Fletcher.
Referee: Derek Tomney.
Attendance: 2,000 (estimate).
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Steven Fletcher (Wolves).