Manager John Sheridan gave us his reaction to the Barrow friendly shortly after full time on Tuesday night.
“I knew it would be a tough fixture,” he said. “I’ve been there myself as a player, early in pre-season, when things don’t quite come off for you.
“We’ve been back nearly two weeks and it’s our first game, and you can see that we’re still way off.
“The thing I got out of the game, more than anything else, is that there’s still a lot of work to do. I look at that as a positive because we know we’ve got to get things sorted out.”
“I don’t like losing any game, even though a friendly isn’t the be-all and end-all,” he told us. “I’ve seen things tonight which tell me we have more to do.
“Our fitness is nowhere near what I expect it to be, at this moment in time, but full credit to Barrow because they made it a good test for us. These games are all about fitness and getting ready, and we’re just not there yet. That’s why we’ve had a disappointing result.
“The first four or five games are about getting game time and getting used to it again. Everyone will be getting involved as much as they can as we lead up to the tougher tests against the likes of Fylde and Bradford.”
With Barrow having notched three goals on the night, he commented: “I’m always disappointed when we concede goals, but the way we conceded our goals was poor on our part.
“It’s a game we went into really rusty because we haven’t done any set plays, defending or attacking training sessions so far. All of the goals were sloppy. We’ll do the work and I’ll make sure we get it right.
“I’m not going to beat myself too much, but at the same time I don’t like losing. The lads will get used to me because I like to win at everything. Winning is a good habit, so I’ll take this one on the chin because it is still very early.
“However, I’m making no excuses, we should be doing a lot better than this. If you think everything is going to be easy and you can just turn up – football just isn’t like that. You can’t do that, you’ve got to be on your game 95% of the time, especially at our level. You just can’t switch off.
“I didn’t expect us to lose the game. I came here to win it and, with the players available, we should have done that. As it was, Barrow deserved to win it and credit to them for that.”
And with all of the younger professionals getting a run-out, he said: “It gives them a taste and a bit of a wake-up, but that was the same for the older lads as well. It doesn’t matter who you’re playing against, if you’re not at your game you’ll get punished.
“I shouldn’t have to put demands on players, they should have demands on themselves. It shouldn’t need a manager or a coach to put demands on them. They should want to go out and be the best player every time they go onto the pitch. I hope I don’t have to tell any player that.”
Notable absentees at Holker Street were midfielder Jamie Devitt and defender Gary Miller, but the manager confirmed that he expects them to be back on the scene sooner rather than later.
“Both possibly could have played, but I don’t want them missing too much of pre-season,” he explained. “Today [Tuesday] is the first day they’ve missed, and it was just a couple of back spasms, so I’m hoping they’ll be fine for Saturday. It wasn’t worth risking them.
“It reminds us that we need to strengthen, definitely. I’ve said before that I do believe we need four or five players to really strengthen us up. There’s a good nucleus here, and we had a few youngsters coming in who are new to the first team.
“They’ve seen that it’s a difficult place to be when you’re playing against stronger players. All in all this is a game that will hopefully stand us in good stead for the rest of the summer.”
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