The word ‘muggy’ probably best describes the conditions at Kendal on Wednesday night as the Blues got more good minutes under their belt in what was a feisty encounter.
We caught up with Gav Skelton at full-time to get his thoughts.
“It was good, friendlies are always productive in pre-season,” he said. “The training has been hard, with our double sessions, we’ve been getting a head of steam up as we’ve gone into games, and hopefully that builds into the league season.
“Obviously it’s quite early doors, we’re still a couple of weeks off, but it’s been two productive nights. Lads have got either 75 or 90 minutes into their legs, which is really important.
“It was really competitive and that’s good. You don’t want it to be just nice and easy, there were tackles flying in during both games, and that’s fine by me.
“Some people have different opinions when it’s a friendly but, for me, you don’t want to be just strolling about. If you’re playing against a league team, or against people who are deemed to be ahead of you, you want to prove a point.
“As long as it doesn’t step over the line, which it nearly did a couple of times tonight, then it’s fine. It gives it that bit of competitive edge, it makes you fitter and speeds up your decision-making process, and that’s all part of the training process in pre-season.”
On the excellent attitude shown from the squad across two testing evenings, he told us: “It’s been brilliant. We’ve spoken about that and we’re working on a lot of stuff in training.
“Obviously we train to get fit but there’s also some of the tactical stuff as we look at how we want to play. We’ve seen that in both games, which is pleasing.
“If I’m being ultra-critical we’ve given up too many chances and opportunities. I know we’ve had two clean sheets but there’s been a lot of efforts on our goal and the keepers have had to make some good saves.
“But on the ball and defensively, at times, it has been really pleasing and you can see how the stuff we’ve worked on is coming through.
“The attitude and application with this group is fantastic and hopefully we can maintain that and get better and better when the real stuff starts.
“At the moment it’s a bit like a false economy, the weather is nice and things like that, and it’s about being able to do it when the pitches start to turn.
“The boys seem to be at a good fitness level, which is also pleasing, and if we can add that little bit of sharpness going forward it’ll be good. There are stiffer tests ahead, we have some good games coming up, but that’s what we need and it’s what the players want.”
And Wednesday night brought another lively appearance for trialist Manny Mampala, who added a second goal to his tally.
“He’s done well tonight, and he’s done well in training and in the other games he’s played in,” he agreed. “It gives the people above me a decision to make while I get to concentrate on other stuff.
“With Magnus Norman and George Tanner, hopefully they’ll be back this week and available for Saturday.
“Magnus did the warm-up training this week, and George has felt something, so he hasn’t trained. Like I say, hopefully he’ll be available by the weekend, the same as Maggers.
“He’s done a lot of rehab so we’re hopeful it’ll be good by Saturday.”
The weekend brings newly-promoted side Blackpool to Brunton Park for what will be a different kind of test.
“It’s a step up and it’s exciting,” he commented. “They’re a Championship side now and we’re back on our pitch, which looks fantastic.
“We’re really looking forward to that one. It isn’t a competitive game but it’s a home game on a pitch that’s been worked on and which looks great. I know the players want to have a go on it so, yes, really looking forward to it.
“Hopefully there’ll be a big crowd, on a nice day, and without the stress of results. We miss that, but it’s nice if there’s a good crowd and a game where both sides compete.”
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