Alton manager Kevin Adair was left to rue missed chances after the Brewers crashed out of the FA Vase with a 2-1 defeat at home to Wessex League Premier Division outfit Cowes Sports in the second qualifying round on Saturday afternoon.
Alton took the lead early on when Luke Perkins shot home with his left foot from 12 yards.
The home side then failed to capitalise on a number of gilt-edged chances.
Alton continued to dominate territory in the second half, but the visitors defended resolutely and grew in confidence as the game wore on.
George Carter-Knight reacted quickest to equalise in the 85th minute after a shot came back off the crossbar.
As the game entered injury time Cowes won a penalty which was coolly dispatched by Jez Conway on 93 minutes.
“Missed chances ended up costing us,” said Adair.
“We played very well in the first half – but we didn’t get that second goal.
“We were still in control in the second half but credit to Cowes, as they stayed in the game and punished us.
“Afterwards I told the players it was unacceptable to have not won after creating the number of chances we did.
“We had six really good chances but scored only one.
“On reflection I can look back and see it was a good performance – but you have got to make it count and take your chances.
“Football is all about key moments. Whichever team makes the most of their key moments in the game will generally come out on top.
“There are so many different ways of playing the game now, and different formations and tactics that teams use – which I enjoy competing against.
“The game is so much more fluid now – but ultimately it comes down to key moments and which team wants it more on the day and works hard for 90 minutes and added time.
“In our league, teams will generally have between 40 per cent and 60 per cent possession and it comes down to how you use that.
“We probably had about 70 per cent possession against Cowes but we didn’t make it count.”
Saturday’s defeat followed a superb 8-1 victory at Sheerwater in the Combined Counties Premier Division South last Tuesday night (September 19).
The Brewers trailed 1-0 at half-time to Liam Avery’s goal, but came roaring back in the second half thanks to goals from Luke Perkins, Matt Graham, Scott Sanderson (2), Louis Russell, Nasim Regragui (2) and Pat Cox.
“We were playing against the wind in the first half and had to manage the game and stay in it,” said Adair.
“At half-time the message was that we had weathered the storm and the game was now there for the taking for us.
“We were superb in the second half and were ruthless.”
Alton return to Combined Counties Premier Division South action with a trip to high-flying Guildford City on Saturday (3pm).
The Brewers won 3-2 at home to Guildford in the Premier Challenge Cup in August, but Adair is expecting a difficult test for his side.
“Guildford have started the season well so we are expecting a difficult game,” he said.
“It’s not the easiest pitch to play on at Guildford, but we are probably better off playing there now than later in the season when the ground is wetter.
“We got a good win against Guildford in the cup because we made our moments count.
“It will all come down to what we can get out of our group on the day.
“We are making good progress as a side – we just need to be more consistent.
“We’ve either started games really well and then dropped off, or come back well in games after a slow start.
“We’re searching for that consistency across 90 minutes.
“We’ve had good first-half performances and good second-half performances, but we need to do it for 90 minutes.
“We chopped and changed formations at the start of the season as the group came together late in pre-season – usually you would ideally do that work in pre-season.
“We will now be sticking to a formation and the players will need to adapt to the formation, rather than the formation adapting to the players.”