Phil Parkinson's men were involved in their first pre-season friendly of the summer at FC Halifax Town this Saturday afternoon and earned a 2-1 victory thanks to goals either side of half time from Adam Le Fondre and Sammy Ameobi
Wanderers Manager, Phil Parkinson fielded a strong team to take on the home side. Last year's Player of the Season Ben Alnwick started in goal, with David Wheater taking the captain's armband and starting the game in central defence alongside Mark Beevers. Setting up in a 4-4-2 formation to begin with, at full back Mark Little and Andrew Taylor took their place, right and left respectively. From right to left in the midfield, Parkinson began with Sammy Ameobi, Jason Lowe, Josh Vela and Will Buckley and then an experienced strike partnership of Clayton Donaldson and Adam Le Fondre.
The game started in competitive fashion but with Wanderers seemingly in control and the first chance belonged to Sammy Ameobi but the winger couldn't hit the target with a free kick from distance after Adam Le Fondre was fouled by Josh Staunton.
Ameobi was in the thick of the action and causing Town no end of problems down the right-hand side and his next attempt in anger was a fierce shot from 25 yards which Shaun Rowley had to spush behind alertly low to his left. From Ameobi's resulting corner, Clayton Donaldson had his first sight of goal, but he couldn't keep his header below the crossbar.
Clearly inspired by Ameobi's willingness to try his luck from distance, David Wheater sensed an opportunity and moved into space in front of him before attempt a shot from 35 yards which couldn't trouble Rowley in the Halifax goal, with the ball sailing harmlessly over the bar.
Ameobi had previously threatened from a free-kick and now it was Halifax's turn with Alnwick getting down to his right to push an optimistic Dayle Southwell attempt around his post to give the home side a corner.
Around twenty minutes into the game, Wanderers took the lead after a lightning quick counter-attack. After Town had threatened at one end, a Ben Alnwick throw send Ameobi away down the right-hand side before playing Will Buckley in on goal with a perfectly weighted pass; the winger kept his cool and squared the ball to Le Fondre who made no mistake in slotting the ball past Rowley from six yards out.
in truth, Wanderers dominated the vast majority of the first half and another chance came their way, this time to Josh Vela. Ameobi did excellently to switch the ball to Taylor and despite being under pressure from Jacob Hanson, he delivered a dangerous low cross into the box which came loose to Vela 18 yards out, but his curling effort was plucked out of the air by Rowley.
Ameobi was the biggest threat to Town's defence and he conjured up another chance for himself before the half was out. Le Fondre kept a move alive on the far side after Taylor's cross had evaded him in the middle, and then his delivery came out as far as the winger who juggled the ball before volleying over the bar.
Chances kept coming and the next belonged to the impressive Buckley with Taylor once again proving a useful outlet down the left-hand side. The defender's delivery into the chest of Donaldson resulted in the ball being laid off to Buckley who saw his commendable attempt go narrowly over the bar.
The second half started with Phil Parkinson's men continuing to be on the front foot and Mark Little drove into the penalty area with intent, past a couple of blue shirts before hitting a shot with the outside of his foot which went a yard or so wide of the target.
Wanderers deservedly doubled their advantage early in the second half and it was Ameobi getting the goal his performance had merited. As aforementioned, Taylor was proving to be a useful outlet down the left-hand side and it proved to be the case on this occasion - his cross into the box on a plate for his teammate to head past a helpless Rowley.
Donaldson had worked tirelessly during his first outing in a Wanderers shirt and his strike partner for the afternoon, Le Fondre picked him out with a low cross which he turned into the goal from close range but the linesman was quick to rule out the goal for an offside decision.
Town had their best chance of the game through Southwell; after Hanson's cross had found him inside the box, his low shot on the turn was saved excellently by the legs of Alnwick, and it was to be the Wanderers stopper's last involvement in the game as Phil Parkinson made eleven changes, thus fielding a completely different side from the hour onwards.
Jake Turner swapped places with Alnwick, with a back four made up from right to left, of Chiori Johnson, Liam Edwards, Jack Hobbs and Stephen Darby. From right to left the midfield lined up with Craig Noone, Jack Earing, Joe Pritchard and Dennis Politic, with Erhun Oztumer playing in the advanced midfield role, just behind Connor Hall.
Shortly afterwards, Town halved the deficit through Mekhi McLeod. The left-winger had only just come on as a substitute himself, and he made an immediate impact, bursting past a couple of Wanderers players and into the box before firing the ball into the bottom corner past a rooted Jake Turner.
The home side started to get more joy in terms of attacking motion in the final third and after Edwards had done well to halt one of the Town trialists, McLeod took hold of the loose ball and curled the ball over the bar.
Wanderers grew back into the game after a sticky spell and Connor Hall was denied a goal by a superb Rowley save. Craig Noone cut inside from the right and floated a dangerous ball into the box which was glanced towards the bottom corner by Hall but the Halifax stopper kept the deficit at just a single goal.