Horsham YMCA manager Peter Buckland has set his sights on their Premier Division season after a disappointing 2-0 defeat to Three Bridges in the FA Cup.
Goals from Nathan Crabb and Jensen Grant gave their newly-relegated league rivals Bridges victory in the extra preliminary round.
Bridges took the lead on seven minutes when Grant pounced on a rebound from a free kick to slot home and they doubled the lead through Crabb as he turned his defender and fired the ball passed Aaron Jeal in goal.
YM had an opportunity to pull one back 12 minutes into the second-half, but Dan Evans’ penalty was saved by goalkeeper Kieron Thorp, which proved to be a game-changing moment.
Reflecting after the match, Buckland said: “It was very disappointing. We had great expectations and we just didn’t connect. Some may say the FA Cup doesn’t matter, but it does to me - I want to win every game of football.
“It’s got a nice chequebook and we wanted to progress in the cup, but it wasn’t to be.
“Largely, Three Bridges were the better side and we were average at best, we lost the game in the first-half. They were a lot more up for it than us.
“The weather was awful, but that’s the same for both sides and they wanted to get the result wrapped up quickly.
“If we didn’t miss our penalty, we could have been looking at a replay on Tuesday night and it proved to be a major turning point in the game.
“Football has a nasty habit to bring you back down to earth with a bump sometimes. But we have to be upbeat, discuss what went wrong and focus on the league, which has always been my main priority.”
YMCA now look to begin their full Premier Division season this Saturday away to promotion challengers Pagham.
Ahead of the game, Buckland noted on the state of his squad and said: “I’m upbeat about it and it is shaping up alright.
“As of this Saturday, we should have a full squad available for selection, so I can start what I perceive to be our best XI in our best shape.”
Horsham YMCA finished in 10th place in the league last year on 54 points, whilst Pagham finished in fourth with 72 points.
Commenting on the difficulty of his side’s opening fixture, Buckland stated: “I am looking to go down there and turn the tables fully from last Saturday’s performance.
“They will be title contenders, no doubt about that, but we haven’t got it in us to go down there and settle for a draw. We will press them and go for it to get the three points”.
Horsham YMCA: Jeal, Carden, Evans (Dugdale 84), Cooke, Harding, Cave (Schaaf 46), Shelley, Curtis, Pamment, Humphreys (Gedling 46), Brown
Unused: Shipton, Gibson, Crane, Fox