Macclesfield Town enjoyed a rigorous pre-season workout earlier today, as the illustrious Stoke City provided the opposition for a behind closed doors encounter at Clayton Wood.
Both sides put out strong sides for the first half and after seven minutes of pulsating, end to end football Gary Rowett's side took the lead.
An innovative ball by Ryan Shawcross was latched onto by DR Congo International Benik Afobe and he lashed the ball into the back of the net from twelve yards out.
Macc defiantly fought back as they searched for an equaliser, with the squad clearly giving their all for the cause.
Parity was restored just three minutes later, when following some good work by Koby Arthur down the right the ball broke to Callum Evans twenty five yards from goal and he majestically fired an unstoppable shot past Haugaard in the Stoke goal.
Both sides looked to assert their authority on the game following the frenzied first ten minutes and Mark Yates' side certainly held their own against a side who boasted names such as Robert Huth, Darren Fletcher, Joe Allen and Bojan Krkic.
On 32 minutes the visitors could well have taken the lead, as Danny Whitaker's corner from the left was headed goalwards by Nathan Blissett – yet he was unlucky to see his effort hacked off the line.
Koby Arthur then warmed the gloves of Haugaard with a fizzing twenty yard drive, before his tantalising cross was glanced agonisingly wide by Ryan Lloyd.
It was a half full of commitment and desire by the boys in blue and there is no doubt that their performance elicits great optimism – even at this early stage of the season.
Mark Yates used the second period to cast his eye over numerous trialists who are currently looking to earn themselves a contract with the club and with Stoke bringing on the likes of Peter Crouch and Saido Berahino, they certainly had it all to do against such world class opponents.
Three minutes into the half, the home side took the lead when Maxim Choupo-Moting's deflected shot trickled past our trialist 'keeper into the back of the net.
Ten minutes later Crouch scored what would be a trademark goal, as he latched onto a cross from the left to fire a bullet header into the far corner.
Macc kept on fighting as they looked for a way back into the game, with Ben Stephens looking particularly menacing with his deft touch and electric pace.
Eleven minutes from time Berahino finished off a scintillating move for Stoke's fourth and on the stroke of full time, Tyrese Campbell made it five when he finished from close range at the second attempt.
There was still time for Macc to double their tally however, as a trialist striker took full advantage of some hesitant Stoke defending before slipping the ball past Frederici.
Overall it was a great workout for the lads, against high calibre opposition and one which inspires confidence ahead of Saturday's clash with Ashton United.
Starting XI – Trialist, Hodgkiss, Fitzpatrick, Lowe, Grimes, Lloyd, Arthur, Whitaker, Evans, Marsh, Blissett.
Second Half – Trialist, Trialist, Kelleher, Welch-Hayes, Trialist, Evans, Trialist, Wilson, Trialist, Stephens, Smith.
Hear the thoughts of Assistant Manager Danny Whitaker later on this afternoon here at www.mtfc.co.uk