Lee Bradbury was left feeling deflated after the Hawks suffered a 3-1 opening-day defeat by Bromley in their Vanarama Conference South curtain raiser at Westleigh Park.
All the visitors’ goals resulted from outstanding finishing but the home side contributed to their own downfall on all three occasions.
A poor defensive clearance was to blame for the first goal, slow reactions for the second and fatal hesitancy in the heart of the defence for the third.
The Hawks showed a big improvement in the second half but once Bromley stormed into a three-goal lead the game was up.
Scott Donnelly’s late penalty was scant consolation.
Bradbury felt the final scoreline flattered the visitors but knows his team need to improve, and quickly.
‘It wasn’t the start we were looking for and it is frustrating,’ said Bradbury.
‘The only people who beat us today was ourselves.
‘All three of their goals were great strikes but we presented them with the opportunities.
‘If we had done things right in the first place it wouldn’t have happened and it was disappointing.
‘Once we went two goals down in the first half we were left with a mountain to climb.
‘The third goal should have been cleared and we needed to be a lot better.
‘We have to be a lot sharper.
‘I am just glad that it has come early because it should act as a wake-up call.’
The Hawks were behind after just six minutes when a poor clearance allowed Bromley to launch an attack down the left.
Moses Ademola finished emphatically from the edge of the area giving Hawks new captain Ryan Young little chance in the home goal.
If that was good, Ali Fuseini’s dipping volley from a badly-defended throw-in 12 minutes later was even better.
Bradbury recognised his tactic of using Nic Ciardini behind the front two in the opening 45 minutes failed to work.
At the break he made the change, sending on JJ Hooper and reverting to a 4-3-3 strategy, which immediately made a difference.
Suddenly Bromley found themselves under sustained pressure and it was the Hawks who looked threatening.
‘I was pleased by our response in the second half,’ said Bradbury.
‘When JJ went on we started to cause them a lot of problems and on another day could have grabbed a few more goals.
‘We looked a lot livelier and have to build on that.’
Another defensive error on 70 minutes, however, killed off the Hawks hopes of a fightback.
When the Hawks failed to clear outside their area Pierre Joseph Dubois smashed home Bromley’s third goal.
Donnelly scored late on from the penalty spot after Josh Huggins was flattened inside the box but it was too little too late.
‘Stupid mistakes cost us and allowed Bromley to walk away with all three points,’ said Bradbury.
HAWKS: Young, Huggins (Dutton, 82), Cummings (Blanchett, 73), Woodford, Strugnell, Harris, Ryan, Donnelly, Mullings, Bubb, Ciardini (JJ Hooper, 45)