Gary Bowyer was pleased with the efforts of a young Salford City side as they were narrowly beaten at Oldham Athletic in the opening game of the Papa John’s Trophy.
The Latics won 1-0 thanks to a header late in the first half from Carl Piergianni, the former Salford centre-back getting onto the end of Faysal Bettache’s corner.
That came after Brandon Thomas-Asante had a shot cleared off the line, and Matthew Sargent an effort saved, but the better chances came in the second half.
Fresh from making his debut on Saturday, Kelly N’Mai impressed on his first start and linked up well with Thomas-Asante and Hayden Campbell to create chances. Campbell’s best came with five minutes to go when he received an N’Mai pass and rode a robust Piergianni challenge, before watching his shot come off the inside of the far post.
Despite defeat, the manager was encouraged by the performance his side – with an average age of 21 – put in.
“Today we put a young team out there to start, we had to look after a few from Saturday that were carrying knocks but it presented a great opportunity for the younger ones.
“I thought we started off a little bit nervous, to be expected with some of them, but we grew into the game.
“Second half we had a change in shape, we went even younger, the response of them and the way we went about it was terrific.
“I was delighted with Andy Smith in his first game, he only met the lads yesterday and he’s shown what a good player he’s going to be for us so, result aside it’s been a pleasing night.
“We were up against a team that’s quite a lot playing from Saturday’s game so delighted with how we’ve gone about it, but overall disappointed that we didn’t nick something at the end.
“We’ve had Hayden hitting the post, we’ve just seen it back there we feel there’s a penalty for us at the death but I’m pleased with how we went about it.”
Salford’s next group game is against Tranmere Rovers in five weeks’ time, while the League Two campaign resumes on Saturday away at Carlisle United.