It’s an indication how far Alton have come in a short time that they came away with a narrow 2-1 defeat at league leaders Colliers Wood United – and were devastated.

They felt they could – and perhaps should – have collected something from the team sitting three points clear at the top.

“It was a tough game – no-one was really in control at any one time – but we had the chances to win it,” said manager Kevin Adair.

“We were disappointed with the award of the free kick when they got their first, although the goal itself was good.

“But by then we had already had two good chances and I would have liked to think that on another day we would have taken one of them, if not both.

“We started strongly after the break and got the equaliser and they had a player sent off. But at the same time we had a player sin-binned, so just when they would have had to have spent time reorganising to play with ten men, we gave them ten minutes to sort things out when it was ten against ten.

“And it was during that time when they scored their second.

“That was the turning point, to be honest.

“We still had chances – we had three big opportunities that we didn’t take.

“Colliers Wood are top of the table and obviously going well and the game underlined that it’s just margins for us now.

“It’s not that we are not used to this league, the speed of the game or unable to adapt to situations better – we haven’t played any side who have been way better than us.

“We’re adapting to this now and we have come away from the leaders very disappointed, and from where we were two months ago that’s a good thing.

“We just have go again – we have tough games coming up against Raynes Park and then Farnham Town.

“Raynes Park will be tough as they’re up there but we are at home and we always fancy our chances here.

“A lot of people are talking about the Farnham game and I’m sure it’s exciting for the players and supporters, but us coaches are concentrating on the next game only, and that’s Raynes Park. We’ll think about Farnham at 10pm on Saturday once we’ve talked over the Raynes Park game.

“I like evening games and Farnham is one to look forward to. Some of our players will definitely be up for it, as it is a good local derby for us.”

Alton are steadily climbing the table after their tough start but Adair says: “I wouldn’t say we are in a false position in the league – we are where we deserve to be.

“But I knew when we were told we had to switch leagues, and that the list of players we thought we would be working with didn’t happen, that it would take eight to ten weeks to get where we needed to be.

“It takes a lot of time to speak to players the right way and to try to get them to join you. You don’t just ring round players – if you do it the right way, it’s not an easy process.

“We had to get the players to understand that things were going to be okay, it was just going to take us a little longer.

“As coaches, everything that happened knocked us back eight weeks or so, as strengthening the side as we had envisaged had to be put on hold.

“With our squad we are now closer to where we wanted to be at the start of the season, although I think I’d like to bring one or two in – although it’s hard for us for what we can offer.

“Any player who joins us is going to want to come to us and believe in what we are doing.

“Can we improve in this league? Yes, we can. Will we? That’s down to the players and the coaching staff over the next few weeks.”