Trialist Jamie Jackson did his chances of earning a contract no harm as he struck the winner in FC Halifax Town’s 1-0 victory over Notts County.
The Magpies became the third League One side to be beaten at the Shay this summer as the Shaymen rounded-off their home pre-season programme with a win.
Steve Williams had to wait a year for his move to the Shay after his trial appearance against Altrincham last season, but on this form, Jackson may be snapped up much sooner.
It’s a nice dilemma for Neil Aspin to have as he finalises his plans for the new campaign, with Danny Schofield also pushing for a more permanent stay.
Both played their part in another encouraging result as the new campaign draws nearer. The contrast to last summer and defeats to Bradford Park Avenue and Stockport could hardly be greater.
Town started with the 3-5-2 formation they ended the Preston game with, possibly fearing a similar passing exhibition to the one they faced on Wednesday.
The visitors didn’t reach such high standards but did enjoy the better chances and greater possession, with Garry Thompson and Zeli Ismail both going close in the first 20 minutes.
County also featured former Manchester United duo Roy Carroll and Alan Smith, who last played together at St Mary’s in a 2-1 win for United in a team also featuring Wayne Rooney and Ruud van Nistelrooy.
Either of those two would have been proud of Lois Maynard’s audacious volley from range which brought a good save from Carroll.
The World Cup-style drinks break midway through the half probably helped the referee more than the players after Martin Coy was pole-axed moments earlier by an attempted County clearance, bringing the biggest cheer of the afternoon so far.
A refreshed Scott McManus then burst down the left before finding Matt Pearson with an excellent cross, who headed just over.
Matt Glennon had to be at his best to tip Akwasi Asante’s effort onto the bar from no more than two yards out from the lively Ismail’s cross.
Town’s system seemed to work well, offering McManus and Pearson the chance to indulge their natural attacking instincts, although Adam Smith’s presence was missed down the right.
It could certainly provide an answer to the conundrum of how to replace Lee Gregory by allowing both Scott Boden and Ross Dyer to start up front. Two heads are better than one.
The impressive Ismail again came close with the last kick of the half after cutting in from the right but was unfortunate to see his long-range ping strike the near post.
Jackson, one of the mystery men from midweek, was handed another chance to impress after the restart along with Schofield, who seems more like part of the furniture now rather than a fellow trialist.
That also prompted a switch to 4-4-2 with a diamond in midfield.
After watching one-sixth of League One at the Shay in pre-season, few Town fans will argue that Preston look the likeliest to gain promotion of the quartet.
Apart from Ismail, County offered little that the Shaymen couldn’t cope with in a game lacking the intensity of the Preston match three days earlier.
Schofield was again efficient in possession and Jackson again showed the kind of work-rate that is a pre-requisite of any Neil Aspin signing.
Boden went close with an imaginative flick header that almost looped over Carroll but the Town forward missed the kind of service Smith and Richard Peniket are expected to provide.
He should have done better shortly afterwards from Marc Roberts’ long-throw but skewed his shot over at the far post.
The introduction of Smith and Peniket helped Town finish as the stronger side and Jackson, cutting in from the left flank, buried a shot past carroll as County wilted in the afternoon sunshine.
Halifax: Glennon, Bolton (K Roberts 70), Ainge, McManus, M Roberts, Williams (Jackson 46), Pearson (Peniket 70), Maynard, Marshall (Smith 70), Boden, Dyer (Schofield 46). Subs not used: Senior, Marie.
Scorer: Jackson (80)
Shots on target: 5
Shots off target: 9
Notts County: Carroll, C Thompson, Mullins, Hollis, Adams, G Thompson, Wroe, Smith, Noble, Ismail, Asante. Subs: Whitehouse, Diaz, Cassidy, Spiess, McKenzie.
Shots on target: 2
Shots off target: 6
Town man of the match: Scott McManus