By Joe Harbert
Tonbridge Angels boss Steve McKimm believes his team can still take plenty of positives from their game against Eastbourne on Tuesday night, despite letting a 2-0 lead slip at Longmead.
A first-minute strike from Tom Beere and then a Tommy Wood header shortly after the break appeared to be giving Angels their third league win of the season. However, two goals from the visitors inside the final 21 minutes, including an 86th-minute equaliser, dented any hopes of a Tonbridge victory.
McKimm admits the dismissal of Jack Parter late on was a key turning point in the game's outcome, however the 45-year-old was still full of praise for his team's efforts.
"I thought we were in control and comfortable in the first half, with our keeper not having too many saves to make," he said.
"We started well and on the front foot, scoring a good goal straight away and then hitting the bar with 30 seconds of the half to go.
"I felt we began the second half a little slow but grew into it, but the boys showed great character and did everything the management team asked them to do, and that's how we got the second goal, through a great cross and header.
"The sending off did make a difference, but I'm not going to lay any blame at Jack Parter's door because he's been brilliant for me - I think it was just a rush of blood to the head.
"But after that, I have to give credit to the ten that were out there. Against a side with power and pace, the team battled hard to keep it at 2-2 which, although not three points, was a pleasing result after going down to ten men.
"We of course had some players out as well such as Sonny Miles, Tom Parkinson and Arthur Lee, so that made it a different bench to two weeks ago, so we need to get these guys patched up and playing again to give us some more options.
"Arthur may be a little longer but the others should be fit for the weekend, or, at the latest, next Tuesday, so we're not panicking about injuries.
"I trust the players that I have and the ones coming back will have to fight to get in the team after a performance like Tuesday, but of course if we get a few more knocks it may become concern with a squad of only 17."
With seven points from their opening six games, Tonbridge have still made a solid start to the new campaign as they sit 15th in National South.
Yet with four of these matches played away at the likes of Chelmsford and Dorking Wanderers, they will be feeling optimistic about climbing the table with five of their next seven at Longmead - a place McKimm says they need to make more of a fortress.
"Tuesday was only our second game out of six at home - the other four have obviously been away and we've won half of those, which I'll take," he added.
"So we've just got to turn some more results at Longmead into wins, but I have to say that we're better off than last year in terms of points-to-games.
"Our aim this season is to get to 40 points as quickly as possible. After that, we'll set ourselves other targets because we want to do better than last year and if we do then it will be a successful season."
Angels are back in action again on Saturday with a short trip to face Ebbsfleet, before they host Braintree Town on Tuesday.