Miles Rutherford surveyed Chichester City’s mixed start to life in a higher league and declared: Our early home defeat might do us good.
The City manager was delighted his team began their first season at step four of the non-league pyramid with a 2-1 win at fancied Ramsgate on Saturday.
They had a setback when they lost their first Isthmian League south-east division home game 3-2 to Whyteleafe on Tuesday, but Rutherford feels the result could help keep feet on the ground at the start of what they know will be a long, tough campaign.
Two Matt Axell goals – one a 90th-minute penalty – earned the points at Ramsgate, while a Ben Pashley own goal sealed defeat at home to Whyteleafe.
But the fact they have competed well in both games gives them heart ahead of another big weekend which takes them to Bridon Ropes in east London in the FA Cup on Saturday and Burgess Hill in the league on Monday.
Ramsgate 1 Chi City 2
Chi City 2 Whyteleafe 3
Rutherford said: “The first two games have been very interesting and I think we’ve learned a lot already. The loss in the second game may be a good thing. Had we won both opening games, though it would have been nice, it might have led to one or two getting carried away.
“The Whyteleafe result has shown us that even when we play well, which I thought we did, we can get beaten at this level. We’ve worked hard in both games and I think we’ll have to work harder than most teams to do okay in this division. I’ve got no complaints about the defeat to Whyteleafe even though we could easily have come away with a point.
“Winning at Ramsgate was a great way to start.”
Captain Connor Cody and coach Danny Potter were heartened by the Ramsgate success which would have made plenty of rival teams sit up and take notice.
Cody said: “I don’t think anyone expected us to get the three points – it was a great result. We probably would have been satisfied with a point but midway through the second half we had the belief we could go and win it.”
Potter added: “We were obviously delighted to win. It was an impressive away performance from the boys.
“We can’t get too ahead of ourselves though. It’s just one game.”
In Oaklands Park’s first game at step four, against Whyteleafe, Chi went ahead early when Ricardo Thompson diverted a Rob Hutchings’ cross past his keeper. Ronald Sobowale equalised with a thunderous free-kick in the 22nd minute but the hosts regained the lead five minutes before half-time as Scott Jones glanced in a header from a ball by Cody.
Whyteleafe were level once more in the 56th minute when Sobowale stabbed in from close range after a Jordan Clarke free-kick. Clarke was instrumental in the winner with a minute to go, snaking past three City players before putting in a cross that nicked in off Ben Pashley.
City’s assistant manager Graeme Gee said: “It was a learning curve for our boys. Every one of them gave their all.”
Chi go to Bridon Ropes in the preliminary round of the FA Cup (3pm) then return to Isthmian south-east action at Burgess Hill, also 3pm.
Rutherford said: “The FA Cup is very big for the club and the team. We’ve come through one round and it would be massive if we could get into the first qualifying round. Then we go to Burgess Hill, which will be very difficult. They won their first game 7-2.”