United’s pre-season fixture schedule kicked off with an entertaining encounter at Frenchfield Park on Tuesday night and it was an opportunity for 670 fans to see the players for the first time following last season’s lock outs.
New arrivals Tristan Abrahams and Zach Clough got themselves on the scoresheet, with Morgan Feeney and Corey Whelan also able to say hello for the first time.
Speaking after the game, assistant head coach Gav Skelton said: “It was a really good night’s work. We’ve had a productive day, we trained this morning, rested this afternoon and it was a good 45 minutes each for the lads.
“We wanted to play with intensity, in the same way we train, and we worked the ball well. It was a dry pitch, which is difficult at times, but tired them out first half and exploited it in the second half with a new team.
“Having said that, they’ll feel a bit unlucky with being three down at half time. It was really competitive at times, which we wanted, and credit to them for that.
“The goals are good, that brings confidence, but the important thing is minutes under the belt. You can train as much as you want but it’s different in a game. So, yes, a pleasing performance, but lots to work on, naturally.”
Speaking more about the high tempo of the game, he added: “It was a lovely, warm night, and you have to do it properly otherwise it can be a bit pointless and slow, and the coaches and players get frustrated.
“It’s important to keep the standards high and we saw that at times. The lads have been back for two or three weeks now and they were champing at the bit for some real stuff.
“We played a couple of different formations, looked at different things, there were people playing in different positions and a few lads from the youth team. It’s always nice to win and it’s good for the confidence.
“Overall we’re really pleased. I feel we’re in a good place. It’s the easy part – no pressure, no three points at stake, but I feel you could see the squad looks strong, and that’s with two or three minor injuries.
“There’s no panic, if you add one or two, there’s no stress for that and we feel in a strong place. We only want to bring players in that will improve us and are not just a number.
“Some of these lads have been together for a year now. That’s pleasing because again it gievs you things to build on. There’s a lot to improve on, it’s our first game, we’ll come up against stiffer tests, with no disrespect to Penrith, but it’s all small steps.”
And on trialist Manasse Mampala, he commented: “He’s done well. We continued to monitor him. We played him in a couple of different positions, out wide right and up front to see him running in behind.
“He did ok. Hopefully he’ll be with us this week and he’ll play at the weekend. For everyone it was a good exercise.
“I know everyone says in interviews it’s been a great pre-season, but it has been. You really see from the start of last season, I feel we’re in a better place. But it’s alright feeling it, it’s when the real stuff starts. We’ve got a group together and we’re building on it rather than starting it, hopefully that’s a positive sign.”
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