East Preston Football Club boss Bob Paine took positives despite his side slipping to a 3-0 defeat at Southern Combination League Premier Division table-toppers Haywards Heath Town on Saturday.
EP set up to frustrate their high-flying hosts and, in the main, did for long periods.
East Preston had chances in the match and Paine was pleased with his side’s overall efforts.
He said: “It seems strange to say after a 3-0 defeat but I was pleased with our performance. I think the scoreline is a little harsh on us.
“My young team gave it everything and I could not have asked any more from them. Haywards Heath are top of the league and should by rights be in the division higher. They are vastly more experienced than us and just, at times, had that extra quality that experience brings. My squad’s average age today was 20½ years old and what I do know is I’ve seen a great improvement from the start of the season, we look like we belong in this division.
“We will only get better as we gain more experience. I’m Never happy to lose but far more positives than negatives from this performance.”
Daniel Huet had a chance inside the opening minute, which was quickly snuffed out by Heath goalkeeper Simon Lehkyj, as EP made a bright start.
Luke Brodie dragged a shot wide, while Huet was denied by Lehkyj all before Heath went ahead.
The home side took the lead after 24 minutes, George Hayward cut inside before picking out Jamie Weston, who fired past Ben Purkis.
It was two four minutes later as Alfie Rogers’ deflected strike looped over stranded East Preston goalkeeper Purkis and in to the net.
Substitute Lukas Franzen-Jones almost had an instant impact after being introduced on 50 minutes.
Dave Beaney’s pass sent him clear but his touch let him down and the attack came to nothing.
East Preston continued to look dangerous but failed to pull a goal back.
New Heath recruit Alex Laing rounded off the scoring a minutes from time to send EP crashing to a 3-0 loss.
East Preston host Three Bridges on Saturday.
EAST PRESTON: Purkis; Josh Parazo, Lyne, Etherington, Beaney; Stevenson, Barnes; Brodie, Quirke, Hunter; Huet. Subs: Franzen-Jones (Barnes, 50), Waller (Hunter, 80), Heryet (Quirke, 82), Hallett, Bull.