KEITH Curle insisted it was all about the opening day after seeing his Latics side well beaten in their final warm-up game at Rochdale.

The Oldham head coach made plenty of changes from Tuesday night’s encouraging win against League One Crewe and included four trialists in a 5-1 defeat at Spotland behind closed doors yesterday. The game had been arranged to replace the cancelled trip to Huddersfield but was not publicised beforehand, being dubbed a ‘training game’ by both clubs.

It was far from the ideal result for Latics against a divisional rival just eight days out from the League Two campaign kicking off against Newport County at Boundary Park on August 7.

But Curle believes plenty of progress has been made throughout pre-season as he looks to put a real stamp on a side that finished 18th in the fourth tier last season.

And, along with his staff, he is now ready to put the finishing touches to his squad’s preparations between now and next Saturday’s visit of the fancied Exiles who lost in the play-off final at Wembley in May.

“Our friendly against Rochdale served a purpose and that was to get minutes into the legs of the lads who haven’t played as much this month,” he told the club website.

“Naturally the scoreline isn’t great and we’ll address that over the next couple of days with our post-match work.

“Now we have to remain focused and make sure we’re all fighting fit and ready for the first league game of the season next weekend.

“Our preparation over July has been good and we’ve seen improvements in the way we’ve been able to work on our tactics, but this fixture was another test and an opportunity for some players to take responsibility and they know that.

“It’s a busy week ahead and plenty for myself and the staff to ponder over but we remain confident we can make a positive impact from the start with the backing of our fans who have been excellent in the matches they’ve been able to watch.”