Eastwood joint-boss Nick Hawkins looked back on a contrasting pair of pre-season friendlies this week as the new season edges ever closer.
The Badgers lost on penalties at Kimberley Miners Welfare on Saturday after a 2-2 draw, before a more encouraging display against a Barnsley side that travelled to Coronation Park on Tuesday night.
And reflecting on both encounters, Hawkins said he has learned a lot in the space of a few days.
He said: “Having had some good performances initially, on Saturday I learned how bad we can be, which was a shame given how well we’d played at Hednesford a few days before.
“We had the better of the game and the chances, but the mentality wasn’t right among a few players and there was a bit of the hairdryer treatment dished out afterwards.
“No matter who you play, the mental strength should always be the same, but some took it too lightly and have to learn that’s not acceptable.”
With that in mind, Hawkins was far more satisfied with the performance put in against Barnsley, who fielded two or three first team players as well as some with international experience at youth level and won 2-0.
“Tuesday was fantastic,” said Hawkins.
“We gave as good as we got for most of the game and missed some great chances, and the Barnsley coaches said we were the best team they’ve faced so far in pre-season.
“We lost to a debatable penalty and a great free-kick and had a goal disallowed too, but all in all we were delighted with the response.”
Hawkins and fellow boss Chris Shaw will now prepare their side for the visit of Heanor Town on Saturday and a trip to Arnold next Tuesday.
The Heanor game is part of a charity fun day for Help for Heroes, with activities taking place around the match.
Gates open at 12pm, with entry for the day including admission for the game £2 for adults and free for under-16s. All money raised on the day will go to Help for Heroes.
There will be a bouncy castle and other entertainment for children, with the bar also open during and after the game.
Hawkins added: “It will be an enjoyable day and the match will be a good test too as Heanor have a talented squad under Glen Clarence.”