United rounded off pre-season with a home game against FC Halifax Town on Friday night and stunning goals from Zach Clough and Manny Mampala set the tone for what was another solid workout.
Speaking after the game, assistant head coach Gav Skelton said: “It was good for the lads and I felt we were a bit more like our old selves. How we started the game is how we want to start games.
“It felt more real, it was a good night for football. Even in the warm-up you could tell that intensity just building towards next Saturday. We’re happy with the result, but the performance and opportunities we created were pleasing.
“I think it was a good, productive game. We looked at ourselves and we saw good habits right around the pitch.
“We were looking at things as they happened in the game, when the left winger’s got it, what’s the right back doing, things like that.
“It looked like good habits, the clearances were better, cleaner, the headers were cleaner. There’s still a lot to clean up on, as there is in every game, and you want the highest standards possible.
“There was some pleasing stuff but you can always improve, and we know we need to improve for Colchester. But there were good blocks to build on.”
And the game provided another opportunity to try different formations, and players in different positions and roles throughout the 90 minutes.
“It’s important, that’s what pre-season’s for and what we’ve tried to do from the first game at Penrith,” he explained. “If we need to change, people can change straight away.
“It’s not a big issue and it’s not a case of ‘I’ve not played here before, I don’t know what to do’. If you’re winning every game in the same formation, happy days, but there’ll be times I’m sure when we have to change things, so we’ll be more ready for it.
“The sharpness and fitness levels looked good as well. When the ball went into certain areas they were all swinging round, getting into shape, on the front-foot.
“That was pleasing, monitoring the whole team, not just where the ball is. They will step up naturally getting towards Saturday’s game, that adrenaline will start going, that focus.
“Generally the start of pre-season’s great, because it’s good to be back, games are good, then the middle of it gets more difficult because you want to be playing for a purpose and three points. But we’re getting there, it showed on Friday night, it felt a bit more real.”