Town Boss Dave Flitcroft felt he learned plenty about his squad following their two-day training camp.
The Reds took on a Derby U23’s side on Tuesday, losing 4-0, before a completely different XI produced a hugely encouraging display against Benfica at St George’s Park earlier today, with Harry Smith getting on the scoresheet in a 2-1 defeat.
Coming immediately after the warm weather training camp in Portugal, Flitcroft was able to take plenty of lessons away from both games and he was particularly pleased with how his players conducted themselves against the Portuguese giants.
“It was a football commitment and a physical commitment to the Derby game, but I was disappointed with how the young players didn’t find a way back into the game from 1-0 down,” he told swindontownfc.co.uk exclusively.
“We then ended up conceding another three goals so that was a disappointing aspect.
“In fairness, the young lads put a hell of a lot into the Portugal trip in terms of training and also the hard work they carried out away from the training pitch with the jobs they helped out with, so maybe it just took a bit too much out of them.
“The mental commitment is something I’m working really hard on and I’m making sure that we are never out of a football game and we’ve always got an opportunity to win it.
“Today was a different story in the fact that we went 1-0 down early on but we dug-in against a Benfica team that had all their stars out in the first-half.
“They put more stars on in the second-half and we kept the same players on for the whole 90 minutes, and we ended up keeping a clean sheet in the second-half.
“The lads committed incredibly to the physical plan and also to the football plan and they were outstanding in the game from a mental aspect.
“We had opportunities to score and win it ourselves and we were very brave in everything we did, so I was delighted and I’ve learnt a lot more about the squad in the last two games.
“It has been like a mini tour and we must thank Benfica for their professionalism today – it was a brilliant experience for the lads at a world class facility in St George’s Park.”
“The lads committed incredibly to the physical plan and also to the football plan and they were outstanding in the game from a mental aspect."
And Flitcroft went on to further praise the squad that pushed a very strong Benfica team all the way earlier today.
“We played Benfica because Derby’s U23’s didn’t want to as they played them last year and got battered,” he added.
“We wanted to take that challenge on, we wanted to see the players challenged at the highest level and, even though I can’t stand being beat in any game, I wasn’t disappointed by the mental commitment and physical commitment of the players, certainly in today’s game.
“The mental commitment of the players yesterday was really poor because they decided to collapse and that doesn’t represent me or my values.
“You have to fight until your last breath in any football game and we didn’t do that yesterday, so the young players have got so much to learn when it comes to my values and my principles.
“But, overall, I’m absolutely delighted with the performance today and it has been a positive two days.”