Neil Aspin said he was encouraged by his side’s performance in their 2-1 pre-season defeat against League Two Rochdale.
George Donnelly and Andrew Tutte put Dale into a two-goal lead, but Town battled back with a goal from Kevin Holsgrove and made the visitors work hard for their win.
Aspin was pleased with his side’s showing in blistering temperatures at the Shay, especially after Dale’s second goal.
He said: “We’re only a league behind Rochdale so I’d expect us to be competitive against them.
“I thought we started really well and should have been in front so it was disappointing to concede the goal which was obviously a mistake.
“Up to that point I felt we’d been the better team but what’s pleased me the most is when we’ve gone 2-0 behind, we’ve stayed in the game.
“You’re talking about a really hot day and Rochdale have had a lot more sessions than us so it could have been a game that went away from us.
“But we were pushing hard until the end so that gives me a lot of satisfaction and we obviously learnt more from today’s game than the previous two - it was a good effort by the players.”
Aspin says there is still plenty to work on for his squad but was pleased with the levels of fitness displayed by his players.
He said: “We can be better, there are lots of things we need to do better but we’ve been back training for two weeks and we’ve got things to work on.
“But there’s a basic shape and idea of what everybody needs to do and we’ve just got to get better at it.
“For me as manager, the main thing is that the fitness levels are there and I want to avoid injuries because we picked up injuries in pre-season last year.”
Click on the multimedia link on this page to see a picture gallery from this game. Pictures by Charles Round.