Exeter City manager Matt Taylor said he was more concerned about the intensity and miles covered by his players in their pre-season defeat to Swansea City than the actual result.
The Grecians lost the game 3-1, with Bersant Celina (2) and Nathan Dyer putting the Welsh side into a 3-0 lead inside the opening 50 minutes before Nicky Law responded with a penalty for City.
Matt admitted after the match that he set the side up to attack and chase their opponents in the first-half, rather than sit in and counter-attack. It was a set-up that proved to be to the detriment of City in terms of the result, with both Celina's goals coming in the opening half hour. However, in terms of pre-season and getting the side up-to-speed for the opening match of the League Two campaign against Macclesfield Town, it was beneficial.
"It is important that we put it into context in terms of the way we set up the team and the way we wanted to play," said Matt. "We went after them and we paid a price for that.
"They were a seriously slick team in that first period, but if we didn't go after them then we wouldn't have got any work into our legs. We wanted the players to be on the pitch for a shorter period of time but to play at higher intensity. Unfortunately that has cost us in terms of the goals and the result, but I was pleased with the way the players went about that.
"My only gripe, certainly in the first half, was that when you spend so long chasing the ball you have got to retain it when you win it back. I think we were little bit predictable at times and didn't quite trust each other in certain areas of the pitch. We started to do that in the second half and it was a more even game possession wise and it meant when we got part of the ball, we could look after it. It was a difficult afternoon but I am really pleased with the work and the context of the work that the lads got out of it."
It was also City's third game in five days, with previous friendly victories coming against Weston-super-Mare and Southend United, when players were given a full 90-minutes. Against Swansea, Matt made nine changes throughout the second half, which made for a disjointed game. However, he admitted that was always his intention.
"The whole group got close to, if not 90 minutes in the week," he said. "That is why we just took them down a little today in terms of the minutes. They will get close to, if not the full 90 minutes, in the next two games. So, I am pleased with where they are. There is a few players I am really conscious of not burning out too early in terms of their loads and then there are a couple of players who are in the wings. We hope to have Craig Woodman and Lee Holmes training in the next week and that is two more good players to come into the group."
Matt also added, that while it was a good test, the challenge against Macclesfield Town on August 3, will be a different one to the test Swansea City posed.
"It was a good test, against a slightly different opposition," he said. "I am not sure we will come up against too many teams like that in League Two this season. I have just said to the group: It is going to be a totally different game in two weeks' time. So we know what we are working towards. I am not sure I would have set that team up the way I did against Swansea, if it wasn't a pre-season game because I am not that naïve. However, it was important the lads got some work in their legs."
🎟 UP NEXT AT SJP 🎟
Tickets are on advance sale for City's home match against Crawley Town on Saturday, February 29 in a 3pm kick-off. Click here to buy now!