YATE Town pushed a strong Swindon Town side all the way in their glamorous opening pre-season friendly at Lodge Road.
The Bluebells created the better chances in a goalless first half but tired as the game went on, while Swindon were re-energised after the break by sending out ten different outfield players to the team that started.
They went ahead on the hour mark through trialist Celvin Kalinga before Massimo Luongo, who was part of Australia’s World Cup squad in Brazil, sealed the win for the League One side with a goal in stoppage time.
There were two new faces in the Yate starting line-up with midfielder Dale Evans having agreed to join, with his former Cinderford team-mate Andy Lewis given the chance to impress at centre back.
Former fans’ favourite Tom Warren played the second half along with trialists Liam Knight, who played for Brislington last season, and Nuno Felix, who started last season at Yate before joining Clevedon Town.
Swindon were first to threaten on three minutes when Ben Gladwin charged forward and his 25-yard shot was tipped around the post by Martin Horsell.
Jake Jackson had two clear sights of goal at the other end soon after, firstly having a shot deflected over the bar from inside the box after a great cross-field ball by Ross Staley and then from the breakdown of the resulting corner heading Dale Evans’ cross narrowly over.
Chances were few and far between from then on but ex-Bristol Rovers striker Andy Williams was denied by a great last-ditch Joe Chandler tackle after being played through by Gladwin.
Yate finished the half strongly. James Harmer intercepted just inside his own half and lofted a ball over the top to Staley, who controlled the ball well with his chest but couldn’t keep his shot down.
One minute later Evans burst forward and threaded through to Jackson, whose cross-shot went agonisingly in between Lewis Haldane and the far post.
Swindon made nine changes at half-time and went in front within 13 minutes. Michael Smith laid the ball off to Connor Waldon and his low ball across the box found Kalinga, who tucked the ball into the net.
Australian international Massimo Luongo almost doubled Swindon’s lead when his free kick from the edge of the box hit the side netting.
Swindon gave possession away cheaply twice in quick succession and Yate almost capitalised, Bradley Abraham firing wide from 25 yards before Liam Knight’s sumptuous pass released Ricketts, who missed the target under pressure.
Waldon looked set to score when he was sent through one-on-one with just Martin Horsell to beat but shot too close to the goalkeeper, who did well to hold on.
Jordan Rogers had one last chance to rescue a draw for Yate when he was released by 17-year-old youth team player Liam Pullin’s ball over the top but his shot from a tight angle was blocked by Tyrell Belford.
Instead Swindon went up the other end and Waldon turned the ball round the corner with a cute pass for Luongo to complete the win with a neat finish past Horsell.
Yate Town: Horsell, Tippins (Dunn, 69), Fletcher (Pullin, 80), Lewis, Chandler (Warren, 46), Abraham, Harmer (Ricketts, 46), Evans (Guest, 69), Jackson (Knight, 46), Haldane (Rogers, 69), Staley (Felix, 69).
Swindon: Belford, N Thompson, Byrne, Ibraham, Vandesonpele (Luongo, 37), Antonio, Jones, Elican, Lambin, Williams, Gladwin. Second half: Belford, Da Costa, Kasim, Branco, L Thompson, Barthram, Luongo, Marshall (Randall, 69), Kalinga, Smith, Waldon.
Ref: Mr R Cockle.
Gazette star man: Bradley Abraham – Showed no signs of rustiness with a typically all-action display.