Dartford manager Alan Dowson believes his side will be looking more like it this weekend.
The Darts had a tough afternoon at home to Gillingham on Saturday, losing 5-0, but with players missing and another possible signing on the cards, Dowson isn’t panicking about their pre-season form.
They lost 2-1 to Bromley on Tuesday night and have a match at Billericay on Saturday as preparations for the National League South season opener at home to Bath City on August 5 continue.
Dowson has been missing the likes of Charlie Sheringham, Alex Wall, Luke Allen and Max Statham, and all will be a boost for the team.
He said: “All four [should be available] on Saturday and that’s a massive plus for us.
“I also want to sign one so I don’t think we will be too bad.
“People will look in the papers and see 5-0 [against Gillingham] but I would rather look at that now than after the Bath game, when you think you’ve got it wrong.
“Yes, defensive areas we have got to improve, of course we do, but I don’t think we were as bad as it looks.
“Pre-season messes with your head because you don’t know how good you are, we haven’t won in pre-season, it’s not a problem, I have had that before.
“If the first game of the season goes well then it’s been a good pre-season. If it isn’t then it’s been a bad one - it’s all about the first game of the season.
“How pre-season has gone, I haven’t got a clue until the Bath City game, then I will know.
“It can play with your head. I have been in this game a long time.
“Personally, I hate it, I get no satisfaction out of winning or losing [in pre-season], but we’ve got minutes into the legs and there’s been a few good signs out there, but I don’t know how good those signs are until [the Bath game].”
Dowson hasn’t ruled out a new signing before then, either.
He said: “There could be some right bargains available in the next couple of weeks, where we might need, not so much better than what I have got but they strengthen us.
“If there is something out there better than what we’ve got then I’ll bring them in. It could be a centre-forward, a goalkeeper, a centre-half.
“With two weeks to go, players want to play football and if they are not in their first team people want to know why.
“We can give them an opportunity here.”
That 5-0 scoreline against Gillingham was harsh on his team, Dowson felt, with the ambitious League 2 outfit showing their ruthless side.
Dowson said: “At half-time, we both had five chances, they scored three we scored none.
“We had more corners than them in the second half but they scored two, that is the class of a right winger who is going to tear their league apart, never mind ours.
“They were very complimentary about us, it could have been 4-2 at half-time, but we were up against a very good side.
“There were lots of positives in it. I am not going to get too disheartened about that, playing against a side who will finish top three in their league with a good manager and a good coaching staff.
“I had a beer with them, [they are] proper people.
“I’ve known Andy Hessenthaler (the Gillingham head of recruitment and former boss) for a long time. Even he agreed we weren’t as bad as the result made out and I have to get my other players back as well.”
Commenting on the midweek loss, Dowson said: “It was excellent, really good, we’re getting better all the time.
“There were massive plusses. I am happy with the way the squad is and I saw some good signs on Saturday.
“Except for the mistakes we’re making individually there were a lot of positives, we just have to cut those mistakes out.
“We have a game on Friday and Saturday to give the players 90 minutes.
“We are looking like a physical side, which we have to be this season, we want to be a team that nobody wants to play against. We have to change the losses but we are losing by individual mistakes.”
Dartford also have games at Phoenix Sports tomorrow (Friday, 7.45pm) and Leatherhead (August 1) scheduled, which they can use to give any returning players or new arrivals additional minutes if needed.