Following a well-fought 2-2 draw with AFC Fylde on the opening day of the 2017/18 campaign, Luke Garrard was keen to stress the positives of the result.

The two-sides shared four goals between them, with a Danny Woodards own-goal opening the scoring.

However, Ricky Shakes and Kane Smith put the Wood in front, and they looked set for the win, until a wonder strike from Fylde substitute Jonny Smith pulled it level once more.

Garrard admitted that his side were slow out of the blocks, but said that he was pleased with how the team reacted to going behind.

“I felt that we struggled with the tempo of the game for the first 10/15 minutes,” the 31-year-old commented. “I remember what it felt like when we came up and played Halifax Town at home on the opening day two years ago.

“The energy that Fylde had in the first 10/15 minutes was impressive, but it didn’t take us by surprise, I had warned the boys.

“I felt that we dominated large spells of the second part of the first half and I think that we got our just rewards with Ricky Shakes’ header.”

Following the opening goal from Fylde, Garrard explained how he reshaped his side to combat the added tempo from the home team.

“I felt that a little bit of detail in regard to the shape of our back three needed changing, once that changed we were a little bit more on the front foot and we were in their half a lot more.

“We have got a lot of new lads coming into the squad and they are all slowly learning each other’s strengths and weaknesses and each other’s traits, there is still loads to do but this was a very positive start.”

Shakes’ equalised for the Wood on the brink of half-time, and continues to prove invaluable for Garrard and his side, wherever he plays.

Garrard continued: “Ricky Shakes has got an abundance of fitness, I feel that his endeavour, desire and hunger it impeccable.

“He ticks all the boxes as a wing-back, he can get up and down the pitch regularly and then you look at how he attacked that goal, it was a frightening header, he has left the kid in a heap for about five minutes after that.

“The endeavour to go and get on the back post and the quality from Angelo Balanta on the two goals was magnificent.”

However, despite the impressive start, the 31-year-old was keen to stress that there remains a lot of work to do be done on the training ground.

“I think that we have got loads to work with, but we have also got loads to work on,” Garrard emphasised.

“I think that the squad suits this shape, we have got strong personnel at the back and strong personnel through the middle and I like the two up top because it occupies the oposition’s defence.

“We have got loads to do though, I saw a few details today that we need to improve on, but it is our first game.

“Jamie Turley came in today for his debut and he only landed at the club on Thursday, but I think that he took to it like a duck to water; he is an organiser; he is a man and he’s a leader.

“If you look at that then it is all positives, but we are not the finished article yet and there is loads to do, but we will go again and our focus now turns to Tuesday against Dagenham.”

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