ANDY Preece admits a friendly against footballers with Champions League experience was better than any training session.

The Northwich Victoria manager told the Guardian that his players could be proud after losing against Romanian champions Unirea Urziceni by a single goal in last night’s friendly.

“It was great for the lads to test themselves against a side with their quality,” he said.

“They used all of their first choice players, so to hold them for well over an hour is way better than any practice we might have done instead.”

Preece called on four players – Ryan Clarke, Michael Connor, Mark Danks and Wayne Riley – that started Saturday’s Blue Square North match at home to Alfreton Town.

The rest of the hosts’ starting line-up was completed by a mixture of players who needed match practice and trialists.

“At this stage of the season the most important thing is to play games,” added Preece.

“With all the postponements we’ve suffered then one or two of the lads have missed out on time on the field, so the friendly was a perfect opportunity for them.

“We’re not going to work much on our shape between now and the end of the season – the players should know it by now anyway – so more important is to maintain our sharpness for the busy weeks ahead of us.”

Meanwhile Vics’ owner Jim Rushe said the club’s glamour friendly against a team that counts Glasgow Rangers and Sevilla among their victims in this season’s Champions League was a success.

More than 300 people, asked to make a donation rather than pay on the gate, watched a side that will take on Liverpool at Anfield in a Europa League contest on Thursday evening.

He said: “It was a great night.

“We only found out on Friday that we could play them, but fortunately word spread quickly and there was a decent turnout for the game.

“There was a relaxed atmosphere and I’m glad we were able to entertain them at such short notice.”