Paul Rawden believes good progress is being made at Kimberley Miners Welfare after his side began their EMCL campaign with a win and a defeat.
Saturday produced a comfortable 3-0 win over Holwell Sports at the Stag Ground before a late goal sent Welfare to a 2-1 loss at South Normanton on Tuesday night.
But despite the mixed start, Rawden believes things are looking positive for the months ahead.
He said: “We produced a commanding display on Saturday against one of the top sides and then proceeded to run South Normanton, who nearly won the league last year, very close on Wednesday night.
“One of the problems we had on Wednesday is that we’d had to make five changes from Saturday’s team due to various players being unavailable including goalkeeper Jack Wheat and defender Tommy Hannigan, who are both key players.
“The lads that replaced them did well and barely put a foot wrong, but the lack of continuity from Saturday showed which was a shame given how well we played then.
“In the end though we also had to look at the fact we missed some really good chances in the second-half that should have won us the game, before then being hit by a late goal.
“But when you look at the bigger picture, last season we only took a point from Holwell and we’ve just beaten them 3-0, and last season South Normanton comprehensively beat us at their place as opposed to a much, much closer affair this time.
“So the evidence suggests already that we’ve progressed from last season and that was one of our main aims.”
The unavailability of players on Wednesday night highlighted a common problem teams face at the kind of level Kimberley play, but emphasised to Rawden the importance of having good squad depth.
He said: “The reality of modern life is that you often have players who have to work late or have young families that take priority and that can sometimes leave you a bit short. This time of year also sees a lot of players taking holidays too.
“It’s a fact of life at this level of football but we have made sure we’re well-equipped to deal with it by building what I believe to be a strong squad that should, by and large, be able to cope with any shortage of players.
“It’s also hard for one or two of our key players who are in their mid to late 30s to keep playing three games a week.
“It’s much more of a squad game nowadays. I’m keen for us to negotiate the tough first month where we have lots of games, then hopefully things will start to calm down a bit in September and we can get a more settled side.”
Two away games follow next for the Miners as they head to Stapenhill on Saturday and then Holbrook Sports on Wednesday night.
Rawden added: “Both sides are good at home and what for us are long treks to places like Stapenhill always provide tough challenges too.
“But I’m happy that all our new players are adapting well to how we want to play as that’s one thing that won’t change regardless of who is in the team.
“We look competitive, organised and will score goals. We might need a bit of luck what with injuries and suspensions along the way, but I remain confident we’ll achieve our aims this year of a top eight finish, FA Cup qualification as a result and big progress being made in all areas of the club.”