Manager Bryan Hughes was pleased to see hard work on the training ground pay off as Wrexham impressed in their friendly defeat to Portuguese Primeira Liga team Portimonense.
Hughes and Carl Darlington have spent training time on the pre-season tour of Portugal looking to work on a new 3-4-3 system – as fans at the open training session will have seen.
And with the formation used on the pitch for the first time in Portimao, the Dragons hit the woodwork twice as they were nearly rewarded with a positive result against strong opposition.
“The new system did work well,” Hughes said. “The biggest thing for me, I know we’ve lost the game, but it’s all about the performance and getting the load into the players
“Some of the things we worked on in training yesterday, when the fans were there, definitely came out tonight: the patterns of play; the quick switches of play; getting the attacking midfielders on the ball; making runs in behind to get crosses into the box.
“As a manager, you want to see that – you want to see the stuff you worked on in the week coming out on the pitch. On a different night, we could have won the game, unbelievably.
“Considering the quality of opposition we have come up against, they didn’t really create anything. It’s disappointing to lose to a goal from a set piece, but they’re things we can work at.”
Hughes says the system is not the only one being worked on for the new season, with formations to be adopted according to opposition.
But he was pleased with how Devonte Redmond and Bobby Grant were able to impact the game in Portugal – with the latter hitting the bar and the post.
“We played two wide number tens, playing just off the number nine in Oswell. And they found pockets of space – Bobby Grant on one side and Devonte Redmond on the other, and it was really exciting when they got on the ball.
“They got us ticking and got us the energy levels for the wing-backs to go on and affect the game. When a plan comes together, it’s nice to see.”
The Dragons now return home with a friendly at Telford next on the agenda, and Hughes says the plan is to keep working on the new systems and manage the players’ workload.
“We’re monitoring the players on a day-to-day basis. We’re pushing them so they’re working hard but not where we will fatigue them too much.
“Devonte felt his thigh at the start of the second-half and we’re not going to take any risks.
“He said he could have carried on but there are no winners at this stage of pre-season – we need him ready for the start of the season. In general, everyone else is feeling fine.
“It’s been a fantastic tour. For a National League club to come on a pre-season tour to Portugal is fantastic.
“The fanbase we brought out here – I hope they enjoyed a really good game of football and a good performance from our boys more importantly.”