Day five is a big test for the players’ fitness, as an evening match follows a challenging morning session. A number of players still play the entire 90 minutes, highlighting the progress made throughout the pre-season schedule.
It’s been tough but the players are kept interested by the variety of ball drills and running routines, in addition to gym and pool sessions. The benefits are showing on the training pitch.
The morning workout sees the lads work mostly on crossing and attacking with quick passing in the final third. Previously, they had worked on building play from the back and the UD Marbella clash sees the two come together nicely.
Most notable is Neal Bishop’s equaliser, where the ball is worked out of defence, through towards Lee Hughes, who tears open the Marbella backline with a clever flick. Trialist Juan Fri is then able to pick out the skipper, allowing him to add a powerful finishing touch.
A heat that brings beads of sweat to the spectators’’ brows really pushes the players. Kitman Steve Cross caters to their need for water by placing water bottles around the edge of the entire pitch and each break in play they are put to good use.
The victory is fully deserved and a great way to send a handful of Magpies’ fans, who were amongst the healthy gathering for the Gibraltar match, away happy. The players fully appreciate the support and it shows what loyal fans follow the team far and wide.
A healthy dinner back at the hotel rounds off the day. There’s tired expressions but a later breakfast between 8am and 10am on the Friday will allow them time to regain their energy reserves.
Post-match reaction and match highlights will appear on Magpie Player.
Special thanks to Kevin Higgins for providing a number of photos from the match.