Horsham YMCA manager Peter Buckland claimed any other result would have been ‘more than we deserved’ as his side fell to a surprise opening day loss to Little Common in the Premier Division on Saturday.
YM were behind after just 35 seconds when Jamie Crone broke through, but it went from bad to worse as Lewis Hole netted the visitors’ second, and Crone added a third inside the opening 15 minutes.
Callum Jeal pulled one back for the home side just before the break, however, the game was put beyond the hosts’ reach when Paul Weatherby dispatched Little Common’s fourth after the break.
In a much better second half, YM might have reduced the deficit when a Little Common defender handled in the penalty area, only for Tony Nwachukwu’s spot-kick to be saved by visiting ‘keeper Matt Cruttwell.
Buckland said: “It was first game of the season syndrome, somewhat. We just didn’t wake up.
“In the second half, we forced 12 corners, missed a penalty, hit the post, then missed a tap-in from about three yards.
“In the space of about two minutes we could have been sat at three all, but it would have, without question, been more than we deserved. The best side on the day won by a country mile."
However, Buckland insisted he wasn’t worried about the result. He added: “It’s one game out of many. If we're five games in and still haven’t got our act together, that would be far more concerning.
“The final word is: no panic, (it’s the) first game of the season, we move on.”
Striker Martin Smith celebrated his return to YM from Banstead Athletic with an assist, dispossessing Cruttwell on the edge of the six-yard box and laying the ball back for Jeal to tuck in.
Smith, along with other new signing Jake Lindsey, impressed Buckland with their performances. The manager said: “I’ve known (Martin) for many years, so I know what he can do, but he’s not totally match fit.
“He’s not had a good pre-season because of a knee problem which, thankfully, we got on top of, and is now sorted. He had a steady debut but was isolated on his own for a lot of the time.
“Jake’s a young lad, tremendous talent, but as ever, at a new club it takes a while to settle in and I certainly think we’ve yet to see the best out of Jake yet. We’ve got every confidence in them.”
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On the Tuesday night, an injury plagued Horsham YMCA were involved in an eight-goal thriller, as they lost out to Premier Division newcomers Alfold, falling to a 5-3 defeat.
Alfold have adapted impressively well, having taken two wins from their opening two games, both against experienced Premier outfits.
YM took the lead through Smith but Kelvin Lucas equalised for the hosts on the stroke of half time. Lucas added his second on 50 minutes before Luke Gedling pulled the visitors level immediately after.
Sam Lemon restored the home side’s advantage but Horsham YMCA went level again through Matt Daniel. However, a final goal each from Lucas and Lemon ensured the home side would take the spoils.
Buckland said: "Two games in and eight first 11 players are out, one of which is our goalkeeper.
"However, the youngsters that have been called in have done an excellent job and will benefit from the experience.
"I said after Saturday's defeat it's how we respond, and the answer was clear for all to see.
"Leading 3-2 with 20 minutes left, they just never quite had the experience to shut the game out against a very strong Alfold side. Ultimately though, the best side won."
YMCA next face Southern Counties League East Division outfit Croydon in the FA Cup extra preliminary round at Gorings Mead on Saturday.
Horsham YMCA v Little Common: Webb-Olley, Carden, Frankland, Gilbert (Evans 52), Harding, Gedling (Wadhams 69), Nwachukwu, Jeal, Smith, Ryder, Lindsey (Daniel 63). Unused: Eales, Sim.
Horsham YMCA v Alfold: Webb-Olley, Carden, Daniel, Evans, Frankland, Gedling, Jeal, Harding, Smith, Ryder, Nwachukwu. Subs: Ross, Lindsey.