Alton go into this weekend’s Combined Counties Premier South curtain raiser by insisting: We have to do better.
The Brewers’ first competitive action of the season was an FA Cup extra preliminary round tie at Baffins Milton Rovers in Portsmouth.
They knew Rovers from old – they were rivals in the Wessex Premier before the FA moved Alton sideways into the Combined Counties in the summer.
They finished on the wrong end of a 4-1 scoreline in a feisty encounter.
Alton had to reshuffle late on with players moving to other clubs at the 11th hour, and with injuries – but manager Kevin Adair wasn’t using that as an excuse.
“It’s disappointing – it’s always disappointing to lose any game,” he said. “But we weren’t good enough, that’s all you can say.
“Would I have wanted another game before we played in the FA Cup? No, because we could have produced this performance in the league.
“We haven’t lost any league points and we’re not going to win the FA Cup – it’s just something that’s nice to be involved in.”
But Adair said there were aspects of the game that he can build on before Saturday’s home game against Balham.
“I thought we played some nice football at times but their directness caught us out a little bit,” he said.
“We didn’t win the second balls or clear up after our defenders had won headers.
“We had a little reshuffle at half-time to try to sort out what we thought was the issue for ten minutes we sprung into life and controlled the game, then they get a ball that falls to them on the edge of the box, like the first goal, and they scored.
“We concede one goal that was an individual error. It happens – the problem being a goalkeeper is if you make a mistake, it’s highlighted. A midfielder makes that same mistake perhaps 15 times in a game but it doesn’t cost a goal.
“We got a goal with 15 minutes left to make it 3-1 but then they killed the game. They are very clever, very cute side and did exactly what you need to do to see out the result. We’d have done the same – you get frustrated when it’s done against you but it’s only what we would do.
“But there were things to build on. We have a reasonably new group and we haven’t had a lot of time to work together as we lost players late on but it’s our job to make things work as quickly as we can.
“We try keep on playing football, and from the back. Just because it didn’t work out here doesn’t mean you throw it in after a week – you persist and tweak it until you get it right.
“We are a fit side and even after the mistakes no-one got on at anyone, which is a real positive – if you can take any positives from that game.
“This is now parked and we will go again in the league on Saturday.”