Kenny Jackett was left in positive mood about the new season after the final pre-season friendly against Real Betis – albeit tinged with disappointment Wolves didn’t beat the La Liga visitors.
Wolves twice led against Betis through Richard Stearman and Leigh Griffiths, but were twice pegged back and then Matilla’s 71st minute finish ultimately proved the difference between the sides.
It was Wolves’ first pre-season defeat under Jackett, and the Head Coach acknowledged defensive errors will need to be ironed out, but he remains pleased with the progress made for what is a much-changed line-up to that which finished last season by being relegated from the Championship.
“It was a good game and a good workout for us,” said Jackett.
“I felt that in the second half there was a win there for us and we didn’t take the opportunity.
“There were two bad passes for their second and third goal.
“But we also showed some promise and there was encouragement with some good performances.
“There was a reasonable understanding of our pattern and what is needed and overall quite a good fitness level and commitment.
“But I can’t help being slightly disappointed because in the second half there was a result there for it and we didn’t quite take it.
“It was probably just some poor game management from us but plenty of good things to base the season on.”
The final two goals conceded resulted from some stray passing as Wolves tried to build from the back.
While disappointed, Jackett insists it is more about better selection of passing rather than a need to be more direct as he is keen the team are comfortable and “constructive” in possession.
Jackett continued: “You don’t want to concede goals like we did.
“But also it is right to pass the ball and pass the ball constructively out from the back.
“So we won’t stop doing that but just maybe our selection at times wasn’t quite what it should be.
“Real Betis were chasing the game when we were 2-1 up and at 2-2 as well because they wanted to win.
“They pushed their back four right out and condensed the play and got their bodies about us – in that situation you have to know then where the pass is.”
Jackett was asked about the absence of midfielder Tongo Doumbia from the matchday squad, and revealed it was purely down to selection.
“Tongo was not selected,” he confirmed.
“I have started him twice in the last two pre-season games and today I went for Evans – who I thought was excellent – David Davis and Dave Edwards.
“For the substitutes I went for Kevin Foley and Jack Price.
“Kevin has had a stop-start pre-season due to his ankle problems which he is over now.
“He is an asset to the club there is no doubt about that because he is a very good one-touch footballer and whichever position he plays he gives 100 per cent.
“What happens now very much depends on how Tongo does in training and how my team develops and what is needed.
“Just talking about those midfield lads and putting Foley in the versatile category, in terms of team selection going forward they are in pole position.”
Griffiths produced another excellent finish from Bjorn Sigurdarson’s flick-on, with the Icelander used on the right hand side of the forward line this afternoon.
“I felt Bjorn was good today and a good threat,” said Jackett.
“He faded a little in the second half and I felt we probably didn’t use him well enough in the second half although he made a major contribution for Leigh Griffiths’ goal.
“He showed good promise in that area and I think his strength and athleticism will be an asset for us wherever I use him.”
Jackett concluded: “Overall I am quite pleased with the pre-season period including today.
“But there is just a five or ten per cent of me that is disappointed we got beat.
“We haven’t looked bad in pre-season at all but the real test will come when the games start.”