Town fell to a 3-1 defeat at home to Rotherham United as a Michael Smith brace and a strike from Michael Ihiekwe built a three-goal lead before substitute Luke Armstrong netted his first goal for the club.
It was a scoreline that failed to reflect Town’s play on the night with the home side taking advantage of the pristine playing surface to showcase the passing game that Simon Weaver has looked to impart.
As has been the case so far in pre-season Weaver again rang the changes from game to game as he looked to get his Town side in ideal shape for the start of the season in little over two weeks’ time. Named in the starting line-up was Lewis Page, making his first appearance for the club after arriving from Exeter City.
He saw his side fall behind to an goal though when Smith rose above the Town back line to head across goal beyond the despairing dive of Joe Cracknell.
Town responded almost immediately when excellent play between Jack Muldoon and Lloyd Kerry played in one
of Town’s trialists but despite his pact run he found himself crowded out as the visitors defence recovered the danger.
Muldoon then almost wriggled free beyond the attention of his marker but last season’s top scorer ran out of space before he could get a shot away at goal.
The good play following the early setback was undone on 15 minutes when Nathan Sheron slipped in the home box trying to clear a Jacob Gratton cross allowed Smith to poke home for his second of the evening.
Orsi then had the ball in the back of the net after good work from one of Town’s trialists down the left-hand side but his effort was ruled out for offside.
Gratton then hit the post for the visitors on 21 minutes with Cracknell having to be alert to also fist away the rebound effort Shane Ferguson.
On the half-hour Muldoon had Town’s best opportunity of the half when he showed good strength to hold off his man and head narrowly wide from a teasing Sheron cross.
Despite the two-goal deficit Town were arguably having the better of the play on a fine evening at the Envirovent Stadium and as half-time beckoned Town’s other trialist shot from distance and forced Josh Vickers into a low save down to his left.
The visitors made two changes at the half with Joshua Chapman and Sam Greenhouse replacing Vickers and Barlaser.
Town were instantly into their stride after the break with a surging run from one of the trialists down the left seeing him back two men before sending a teasing cross to the near post which deserved better support from his teammates.
They fell further behind on 51 minutes when Ihiekwe converted after the home side failed to clear their lines following a corner.
Weaver then made a host of changes on the hour with Aaron Martin, Luke Armstrong, George Thomson, Alex Pattison and Warren Burrell replacing Orsi, Muldoon, Falkingham, Page and one of the trialists.
Pattison was immediately into the game when his driving saw him let fly with a fine solo effort from the edge of the area that was well handled by Chapman in the visitors goal.
And it was another substitute, Armstrong, who got Town on the scoresheet on 66 minutes when he struck home a sweet volley past Chapman from just inside the area.
Armstrong then scuffed an effort after 75 minutes as Town looked to reduce the deficit further.
Town’s trialist further impressed soon after with a mazy run down the left resulting in him testing Chapman with a powerful drive and Burrell then struck a venomous effort that was just too close to the ‘keepers to fully stretch him.
With time almost up the visitors almost grabbed a fourth when substitute Hamish Douglas rattled Cracknell’s bar from 25 yards out with the ball fortunately falling to safety.
Town are again at home this coming weekend when Sunderland are the visitors to the Envirovent Stadium.
TOWN: Cracknell, Sheron, Page (Burrell, 60) McArdle, Hall, Trialist, Falkingham (Pattison, 60), Kerry, Trialist (Thomson, 60), Muldoon (Martin, 60), Orsi (Armstrong, 60).
Subs not used: Oxley.
Goal: Armstrong (66).
Rotherham United: Vickers (Chapman, 45), Barlaser (Greenhouse, 45), Ogbenie, Lindsay (Douglas, 76), Ferguson, (Trialist, 52), Ihiekwe (Carroll, 73), Smith, Cooper, Gratton (Holvey, 83), Hull, Trialist.
Subs not used: Johansson, Harding, Mattock, Wood, Sadler, Wiles, Ladapo, Miller, Kayode, Greaves, Greenhouse, Durose.
Goal: Smith (7, 15), Ihiekwe (51).