Published: 06:00, 21 August 2019
| Updated: 06:51, 21 August 2019
Hythe Town’s players were handed a brutal reality check on the first day of the season.
Tipped by many as the team to beat in Isthmian South East, they lost 7-2 at Burgess Hill on Saturday.
But they responded well on Tuesday by winning 2-0 at home to Whitstable.
Manager Sam Denly said: “We’ve got a good side but it means nothing.
“Everyone talks about us being favourites to win the league but I’m never buying into that.
“It was a reality check for some of the lads on Saturday. We’ve got to be much better than that if we want to even think about getting in the play-offs.
“It’s not panic stations but a performance like that isn’t acceptable.”
After finishing seventh three years in a row, the pressure is on for Hythe to mount a real challenge this season.
But Denly insisted: “It doesn’t concern me. The league made us favourites but I’ve never bought into that. I think it’s a very strong league and I genuinely mean that.
“It doesn’t add any pressure on us because there’s pressure from within anyway. I’ve got my own pressure on me and I want to be competing.
“We want to get on as a club and I think my signings will highlight that. We’re strong as a side.
“We were below poor on Saturday, it was an awful performance and we came up against a very good side in Burgess Hill.”
Full-backs Ryan Cooper and Charlie Webster both started at Burgess Hill despite carrying knocks while Adam Woolcott, who came off the bench, was also struggling.
Denly said: “They got through some tests but if we’re being honest, I’m not 100% sure they were fit.
“Coops is one of the best full-backs in the league but he didn’t quite look at it and Webbo struggled a bit so that was a factor.
“There’s no blame at their feet but all across the back we looked poor - and that’s every single one of them. It’s not finger pointing at anyone, the whole back four and the lads in front had poor games.
“That’s why we lost the game 7-2; the scoreline tells its own story but I’ve got good players there so it’s not panic stations.
“Ollie Rowe’s a fantastic centre-half, Coops has been our best player in pre-season, a great right-back, Webbo’s an excellent player and Ben Fitchett’s come in from Margate, a good player.
“They’re good footballers but unfortunately they all had one on Saturday.”
Hythe face Cray Wanderers in the FA Cup preliminary round at Hayes Lane on Sunday before a league game at Faversham on Tuesday night.