Wrexham return to North Wales from their ‘fantastic’ tour to the Algarve believing they are on course for a successful National League season.
The Dragons have suffered back-to-back 1-0 pre-season defeats – against Fleetwood and Portuguese club Portimonense – but manager Bryan Hughes says: “It was a fantastic training camp in Portugal. For a National League club to come on a pre-season tour to the Algarve is outstanding.
“Our new system worked well. The biggest thing for me, I know we’ve lost the game, but it’s all about the performance and getting the load into the players
“Some of the things we worked on in training when the fans were there came out against Portimonense. The patterns of play, quick switches of play, getting the attacking midfield players on the ball and making runs in behind to deliver crosses.
“As a manager, you want to see that. You want to see the stuff you worked on in the week coming out on the pitch. On a different night, we could have won the game, unbelievably.
“Considering the quality of opposition we have come up against, they didn’t really create anything. It’s disappointing to lose to a goal from a set-piece, but they are things we can work at.”
Wrexham set-up in a 3-4-3 system. Devonte Redmond and Bobby Grant, who hit the bar and a post, both impressed.
“We played two wide number 10s, playing just off the number nine in Oswell. They found pockets of space – Bobby on one side, Devonte Redmond on the other.
“It was really exciting when they were on the ball.
“They set us ticking and gave us the energy levels for the wing-backs to go on and affect the game.”
The Dragons return home for their friendly at Telford next on the agenda, and Hughes says the plan is to keep working on the new systems and manage the players’ workload.
“We’re monitoring the players on a day-to-day basis, pushing them so they’re working hard but not to a point where we will fatigue them too much.
“Devonte felt his thigh at the start of the second-half and we’re not going to take any risks.
“He said he could have carried on, but there are no winners at this stage of pre-season. We need him ready for the start of the season.”
Portimonense fielded a mix of young players and first-team squad members, while Wrexham were disciplined without the ball and happy to let the hosts have the majority of possession.
An early set piece proved to be Wrexham’s undoing when Bruno Reis playing the ball over the top, for Brazilian Jadson to break the line and prod beyond goalkeeper Christian Dibble at the back post.
Grant went close after 17 minutes, turning 30 yards out to unleash a vicious, dipping left-footed shot which Japanese goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda tipped onto the bar.
Grant then hit a post on 45 minutes, cutting inside onto his left foot and beating Gonda from distance, only for his low shot to rebound off the far post.
Portimonense changed their entire starting XI for the second-half, with first-team players including Lucas Possignolo, Paulinho and Bruno Tabata sent on.
Wrexham, by contrast, only introduced Leighton McIntosh for Oswell, and stuck with the same formation.
Cardiff City’s Mark Harris, playing on loan for the Dragons, went on from the bench and forced a good save from the home goalkeeper after 65 minutes.
Wrexham AFC: (3-4-1-2): Dibble (Trialist 72), Carrington, Pearson, Barton (Lawlor 62), Rutherford, Summerfield (Young 62), Wright, Jennings, Redmond (Harris 51), Oswell (McIntosh 46), Grant (Hooper 72).
Wrexham FC pre-season fixtures
Saturday 29 v Cefn Druids 0, Wrexham 4 (away at the Rock)
Friday 5 Fleetwood Town 1, Wrexham 0
Wednesday 9 v Portimonense SC 1 Wrexham 0 (at Estádio Municipal de Portimão, Portugal)
Saturday 13 v AFC Telford United (New Bucks Head, 3pm)
Wednesday 17 v Stoke City (home, the Racecourse, 7pm)
Saturday 20 v Curzon Ashton (Tameside Stadium, 3pm)
Saturday 27 v Crewe Alexandra (home at the Racecourse, 3pm).