KEITH Curle says he is pleased with the progress his players are making in pre-season, and admits that results are not a priority at this stage of the summer.

Latics were beaten in their first home friendly against League One Wigan Athletic, with all the goals coming in the first half.

But apart from the opening 15 minutes, in which Leam Richardson's side were handed a 2-0 lead, Curle was encouraged by the response his players showed to overcome a shaky start and raise their game, pulling a goal back through summer signing Hallam Hope in his first game for his new club.

"The first two games against non-league opposition was a good opportunity to get a little bit familiar," said Curle. "Today was a good work-out and test for the players. We want to be progressive and step up as the games go on, and when you're playing better opposition there are more demands.

"Take the first 15 minutes out of it when I don't think we started the game well, we didn't work them hard enough and I think we allowed them to play how they wanted to play. After that when we got to grips with it then I thought it was competitive.

"It's pre-season, we're still not playing with a settled team. There are a few ideas that we want to examine and we want to look at, but (it was) very pleasing."

Curle was particularly pleased with a well-worked goal, with trialist Dean Furman involved in the build-up and Nicky Adams providing the cross for Hope to thump in a header.

"Some of the things that we've been working on, final third entries, being patient in possession of the ball, waiting and working the opening and then having movement in the box... I'll enjoy watching that back more than I will their goals because I think they're cheap goals," said the Latics head coach.

"Every game that I watch it's an opportunity to learn, develop and improve. We've got a relatively new group and there's work to be done."

And that is why Curle chose the standard of opposition at this stage in their pre-season programme - to put the focus on challenging his players rather than searching for results.

"They (Wigan) have got a very good squad, very competitive and competitive in the division above. It's what we wanted, we wanted a test. And the next game will be even more of a test, against Premier League opposition. Excellent. That's what you want," said Curle, who fielded a more established line-up having previously run the rule over a number of trialists.

And instead of two different XIs that were in both halves against Ashton United and Stalybridge Celtic, the majority of players completed at least an hour in the Boundary Park sunshine this afternoon.

"It's important that the players get competitive minutes," Curle continued.

"We've got two or three games left now, where we'll get more and more minutes into the players.

"Are results important? Results can build confidence, but it's passages of play within that which are very pleasing. We're trying to be able to be comfortable and dominate possession of the ball. Against a very good Wigan team that's difficult. We got let down with some of our simple decisions, which we need to improve on."