Following the withdrawal of the Central Coast Mariners from the game, Crook put his side through a full match with Alessandro Del Piero, Brett Emerton and Kruno Lovrek starring for the first XI in a 5-0 victory.

Del Piero played 70 minutes, setting up two goals for Terry Antonis and Mitch Mallia inside the first 30 minutes, Lovrek smashed home a 20m thunderbolt and Emerton looked lively down the right flank as he took another step towards regaining full match fitness.

“I thought it was a very worthwhile exercise,” Crook said. “It is difficult to replicate the intensity of a friendly against another team but this was the best we could do and the players lifted, which was pleasing.

“It was good for Alessandro, Kruno and Emmo (Emerton) to get 70 minutes under their belts, Adam Griffiths was strong in defence coming back from a knock and we had a chance to play a full game with official referees at a good intensity.

“I was happy with what I saw today and we’ll continue to work hard ahead of the opening game of the season against Wellington.”

Young guns Antonis, Mallia and Joel Chianese all looked strong as the trio all found the back of the net, with Antonis bagging a double.

“I was very pleased with the young boys going forward,” Crook said. “While it was nice to get some game time into the (players) legs today it was also about forming combinations and I thought we did that well.

“Alessandro and Kruno linked well with Mitch, Joel, Ali Abbas and Yau at different stages.”