Alfreton Town boss Billy Heath was delighted with the work-out in his side's 1-0 defeat to Mansfield Town
The Reds were beaten by a late Alistair Smith strike after pushing their League Two neighbours all the way.
Billy Heath said: "Mansfield gave us our best test really - they were really up to speed, really physical, it was a good competitive game.
Read John Dempster's reaction here
Check out our match report of Alfreton Town 0 Mansfield 1
"l think for the majority of the game we stood up to it - l thought we gave as good as we got.
"The game was bitty at times, it wasn't fluent - but we kept our shape well and our work-rate is really of the top order at the minute. We've had two really hard [training] sessions on Tuesday and Thursday this week and for us to come and produce that is really encouraging.
"If we're going to be critical we could have been better on the ball - we were working so hard to get it back. l've been more than pleased with all three [pre-season] games and today showed their character and that they want to work hard - at the moment l'm pleased at where we are.
"l thought new signing Amari Morgan-Smith equipped himself well, despite only one training session after joining us mid-week. He's obviously not sharp yet, but what he does he occupies people, and he did that today.
"Now we have a squad of 16 players we probably need to try and get a couple more. We're never going to have a huge squad - we know we are going to have very tight numbers - that's the way it is, and that's the best way sometimes. If you have four or five players not involved in matches then that's problematical in itself."