Assistant manager Lee Bailey was thrilled with the performance of his players in Brechin City’s 2-0 friendly loss to Raith Rovers.
Trialists shone, new signings like Dougie Hill and Finn Graham looked fantastic and the likes of Ewan Smith and Andy Jackson were nightmares for the Championship outfit to handle.
Despite the defeat Bailey, taking the team while Darren Dods is on holiday, was chuffed with the worthwhile exercise.
He said: “Obviously we’ve played a team from a higher league so their movement, physicality were giving us an opportunity to see how hard the players work without the ball, how our defensive shape looks.
“We looked at different players in different players so as an exercise, I thought it was really good - the tempo was good and our attitude and effort were great right to the end.”
Rovers were in when Lewis Vaughan collected a slack pass by trailist Elliot Ford, the forward flying past Dougie Hill before sending a rushed lob well wide of Jordan Bell’s goal.
Rovers’ midfield were dominant at times and Brechin were almost punished for a brief lapse in concentration when old favourite Bobby Barr picked the ball up 30 yards out, but he fired well over the crossbar.
City could have went ahead on 25 minutes when Paul McLean headed Ally Love’s free kick across goal, but Alan Trouten was unable to make contact on what would have been a simple tap-in.
The visitors were soon ahead when Johnston held off his defender to fire home on the turn from inside the box - a cracking finish.
Trouten found himself in another good position minutes later when the ball fell to him inside the box, but he turned inside and outside one too many times and was crowded out before he got a shot away.
Andy Jackson came on at half-time and was an instant nuisance for the Raith defence, using his power to force a number of openings, but no clear chances.
The hosts ramped up the pressure and Jackson fired just wide with a searing effort, seconds after Trouten had the sub goalie Aaron Lennox at full stretch with a lobbed strike.
Vaughan could have made it 2-0 after the hour mark but his low shot was well save by Bell.
Kyle Benedictus made a stunning block to stop Jackson’s cross finding Ross Caldwell before Vaughan saw his volley go an inch over the bar.
Vaughan was due a goal though and got one in fortunate circumstances, putting Ross Matthew’s cross in with the back of his head with City sub goalie Ben Toogh all at sea.
McLean went down late on with a nasty knee injury though he was able to finish the game.
Bailey added that while the injury looked a bad one it was too early to tell how severe it really is.
He said: “I think it’s too early to tell with Paul’s knee. He’s gone in for a block tackle and felt his knee ligament tighten up a bit. It’s difficult to tell this early so hopefully by Monday we’ll be able to see how it’s looking.”