By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter
Willie Donachie was pleased to see his players get their first taste of pre-season action under their belts in Tuesday's behind-closed-doors friendly defeat to a strong Hamilton Academical XI.
The Scottish First Division side ran out 3-0 winners at Newcastle's Little Benton Academy against a side missing the likes of Paul Dummett, Jak Alnwick, Michael Richardson and Remie Streete, who have travelled with the first team to Motherwell.
Donachie named a different team in each half and gave run-outs to 26 players in all, including a handful of first-year Academy players who only left school a matter of days ago.
They were taught something of a lesson by Academical but it's one that United's Reserve Team Manager is backing his teenage charges to learn from.
"It was a great experience for our lads to play against their first team, basically, who are all four or five years older than our kids," he told nufc.co.uk. "It just shows where they've got to get to. It's practical experience, so it's great.
"We're disappointed with the result but there were a lot of good things; early on, we had a couple of chances and had we had a goalscorer up front we'd have been in front. But then their experience told and they got the first goal, then another one late on in the first half which was not really a true reflection of the first half.
"We said to them afterwards 'now you know the standard in fitness and technical ability you need to get to - and with hard work, you'll get there.'"
A few players in particular caught the eye of former Scotland international Donachie, whose team is next in action against Southampton's second-string on Saturday in another behind-closed-doors affair.
He said: "I thought Rolando (Aarons) was outstanding. Alex (Gilliead) worked hard, Greg Olley showed touches, Steve Logan worked hard and played a couple of excellent balls.
"But it's also just a week into their training and, even physically, they're not really ready yet. But it's great to get your first game under your belt and see where we are on the second one.
"It's great to be back and great to be playing and not training. For the players, it's just great to be playing games."