Nick Haycock was delighted with the application shown by his young Development Squad team in their 1-0 victory at Sutton United on Wednesday night.
Shorn of many experienced Dev Squad players due to their involvement in the Ruhr Cup later this week, coach Haycock asked several 16-year-olds to step up to the plate against last year's Skrill South runners-up.
They rose to the challenge, with a trialist scoring the only goal of the game five minutes after the restart with Haycock saying he could not have asked for any more from his players.
"It was another fantastic workout for us," he said. "I've been speaking with Terry Westley over the last couple of days to pick a team because we have a tournament in Dortmund over the rest of the week, and a dozen players going to that could have played on Wednesday.
"So we've stretched ourselves and after the hour we had a lot of youngsters out there - 16-year-olds - but I think you saw signs of no fear.
"I could not have asked for any more of them from a physical point of view playing against men, and by all accounts Sutton will be pushing for promotion this season, so it's a great experience for our players who were out there tonight.
"Playing these kind of games at that age is massive for their development. The mantra of the Club is always to put boys in challenges that we think they're capable of. We wouldn't put them out there if we didn't think that.
"There were chances at both ends in the first half, but in the last 30 minutes I think we could have put the game to bed and won handsomely."
Three weeks into pre-season Haycock is happy with the progress being shown by his players as they edge closer to the start of the new campaign.
"The boys are working hard," he confirmed. "We're talking about giving them a couple of days off at some point just because of the mental relief that they need.
"You come in for pre-season and you're fully at it for two sessions a day. You're on the pitch or in the gym, we've been in the analysis room looking at clips from games every morning.
"It's a real professional environment that they're coming into. It's hard to become an elite sportsperson in any sport and those are the standards we make them aspire to - looking at the best in the world and asking can they get there."