Published: 09:00, 25 November 2021
| Updated: 09:46, 25 November 2021
Whitstable manager Keith McMahon took heart from their second-half display in the Kent Senior Cup final on Wednesday night.
McMahon's men were blown away in the first half by Dartford at Princes Park and trailed 5-0 at the break. They drew the second half 1-1 and will take confidence into their Isthmian South East trip to Whitehawk as a result.
"We're a side that's building for the league and we've been together for seven weeks," said McMahon.
"In the league I've had a go at them here and there, but it was pointless me throwing teacups up and down at half-time because we've got a massive game on Saturday and we need to look for our confidence there.
"After the game the lads had a bit more lift in them after the second half performance. It's easy to say Dartford took their foot off the gas and maybe they did but we kept a bit more shape about us and I was pleased with that.
"We'll take a lot of confidence from the second half that we showed if we pass the ball, we've got half a chance."
McMahon felt Whitstable kept the ball better after the break, and was pleased with his team's graft off the ball.
The Whitstable boss kept his team's shortcomings in perspective, however, well aware that they won't face teams of Dartford's quality in the bread and butter of the league.
He added: "It was a really tough 45 minutes against a really good side - we're not going to come up against anything like that in our league. Dartford were excellent and I thought we were poor, that's not taking anything away from them.
"We didn't go with a few runners and we got punished for every mistake, I thought we looked nervous at the beginning which is weird because we had nothing to lose.
"In the second half, we were a bit braver, we kept the ball better and I was pleased with the way we came out and didn't make it double figures.
"We knew what a good side it was, they put a really strong side out against us. We'll learn from that, we'll learn how Jake Robinson can come off his man - you don't get that at our level. His movement was brilliant, he kept popping in and sometimes they had five in midfield and then they had four up front and it was something we had to deal with."
One constant during the game was the vocal support of the Oystermen supporters, who got behind their team despite the goals flying in at the wrong end.
McMahon hopes that backing can inspire his players to produce on the pitch in the weeks ahead.
"It's been unbelievable," said McMahon. "When you've got fans like that, they're going to be behind you.
"It was a big thing for me to come to the club because of the supporters and that's what is going to give us confidence and get us moving up the league.
"I said to the lads, when you look around and see them cheering you on, why don't you want to play for that. Hopefully we'll give them something to cheer about going forward.
"They were brilliant, you could hear them throughout the game and it was great for the club."