Wolverhampton Wanderers’ spluttering pre-season continued as they suffered another defeat at the hands of former skipper Paul Ince’s MK Dons.
A first-half strike from another ex-Wanderer, former trainee Jarmaine Easter, proved to be decisive, but there certainly isn’t any reason for real despair.
Results are not important at this stage of the season but performances are and this was a much improved showing to the one served up at Ashton Gate at the weekend, although they still found themselves a goal down at half-time.
Wanderers, who featured trialist Jerome Thomas on the left wing, made the vast majority of the running and created several excellent chances, but fell behind five minutes before the break to the Dons’ first real attack of note.
Sam Vokes had a spectacular overhead kick attempt comfortably saved by Willy Gueret and the Dons keeper immediately punted the ball down the field for Easter, who was able to wriggle past Richard Stearman and fire past Wayne Hennessey.
Wolves, who had been given a guard of honour by the hosts as they came out onto the pitch, had looked the most likely to score and Thomas had a golden opportunity to impress immediately when Sylvan Ebanks-Blake picked out his run with a pull-back but the former Charlton winger blazed over.
His evening got even worse as he limped off in the 32nd minute with an injury that could end his trial spell.
Ebanks-Blake had plenty of opportunities to grab an equaliser but he failed to hit the target with all but one of them and he made way for Andy Keogh on the hour, but still Wolves couldn’t find top gear.
Before Ebanks-Blake departed he did set up one great opportunity for strike partner Vokes when he latched onto a long ball and rounded Gueret before squaring for the Welshman but his shot was blocked with the Wolves fans screaming for handball. Vokes also had a good opportunity when he was presented with a tempting volley from a Milijas corner but he also failed to test the keeper.
Wolves continued to exert the greater pressure but lacked a cutting edge in front of goal that will concern manager Mick McCarthy, but there isn’t any need for panic.
There were positives in the performances of new signings Ronald Zubar and Nenad Milijas, and George Elokobi continues to look strong after returning from a serious knee injury.
But winning is a good habit to get into and Wolves will be looking to register a few morale-boosting victories before they face West Ham United on the opening day.
MILTON KEYNES DONS (4-4-2): Gueret, Woodwards (Ifill, 63), Ehiogu (Davis, 63), McCracken, Lewington, Chadwick (Partridge, 72), Carrington, Howell (Gobern, 63), Gleeson, Easter (Martel Powell, 80), Johnson (Daniel Powell, 85). Substitutes: Searle, King, Chicksen.
WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS (4-4-2): Hennessey (Ikeme, h/t), Halford, Zubar (Berra, 74), Stearman (Craddock, 74), Elokobi (Hill, h/t), Bennett (Jarvis, h/t), Edwards, Milijas (Foley, 68), Thomas (Ward, 31), Vokes (Henry, 64), Ebanks-Blake (Keogh, 60).
n?Portsmouth manager Paul Hart has moved to fill the gap by gap left by the sale of Peter Crouch by making an approach to Cardiff about striker Ross McCormack.
Crouch was reunited with former Pompey boss Harry Redknapp at Tottenham Hotspur on Monday in a £9?million deal.
Hart is exploring a number of options – he has also been linked with Croatia striker Nikola Kalinic – and Portsmouth chief executive Peter Storrie has enquired about Scotland international McCormack.
The Bluebirds have refused to comment but are believed to be ready to accept £5 million for 22-year-old McCormack – top-scorer with 23 last season.