Neal Ardley says he saw plenty to be positive about in his first game as Notts County manager despite exiting the Checkatrade Trophy with defeat at Sunderland.
The Magpies went close to scoring on several occasions but were beaten 2-0 by the Sky Bet League One side courtesy of a Dan Jones own-goal and Jerome Sinclair’s penalty.
And Ardley was pleased with the way his side challenged the hosts.
“We went toe-to-toe with Sunderland and can take some positives from a game against a very tough team,” said the new boss.
“The first half was particularly pleasing. I thought we had the better chances and their goalkeeper made a great save to keep Kristian Dennis’ header out before they took the lead in a fortunate manner.
“We got plenty of crosses into the box and had multiple players looking to get on the end of them so we just need to start taking those chances.
“We won’t play a side that good again this season and I saw signs of the things we’ve been working on to give us the best chance of winning games.”
Ardley enjoyed seeing his side in action as he looks to decide on his preferred 11 for Saturday’s clash with Mansfield Town, which could include Jon Stead who played the last 30 minutes at the Stadium of Light.
“We learned some things about the players that you only can in a live game,” he explained.
“It was good to have a look at a few of the boys and see if they can fit into the roles I want them to play.
“We had to be careful with Steady to ensure he didn’t pick up another injury and half an hour was the advice we were given.
“Hopefully every minute he gets fitter and we can see more of him at Mansfield.”