Ben Barnes insists his Fareham side were guilty of over-enthusiasm as they blew a two-goal lead at league leaders Cardiff Metropolitan in their 4-2 defeat.
The task was a huge one for Fareham as the Welsh club successfully defended their National League conference west title last season.
But goals from Daniel Sampey and Ben Hibberd, inside the opening nine minutes, gave the visitors a shock lead before they were pegged back.
And the fact Fareham fell foul of the umpires to collect four yellow cards certainly didn’t help their cause.
Fareham’s performance director, Barnes, said: ‘We knew they would press us hard and we coped with that really well early on in the game.
‘At that point, the game plan was executed fantastically well.
‘We knew there was still a very long time to go and I knew the job wasn’t done.
‘But, crucially, we played 24 minutes with 10 men.
‘We had four yellow cards almost back-to-back.
‘At full 11 against the best team in the league, you have got a chance.
‘But we shot ourselves in the foot.
‘The players could see that they have got to take some responsibility for that.
‘They over-cooked some tackles and, if you go into tackle at speed, you’ve got to take the ball cleanly.
‘It was a bit over-zealous and maybe they just got a bit excited at being 2-0 up.
‘I don’t think there is any issue with discipline.’
The deadlock was broken on seven minutes when Jon Potts robbed the Cardiff defence to feed Sampey who finished from close range.
Two minutes later, Hibberd’s deflected shot doubled the lead.
But after Cardiff reduced the arrears, Sampey was left to rue a great chance just before half-time.
Barnes said: ‘We had a really good opportunity to make it 3-1 just before half-time but Daniel put it wide.
‘Nine times out of 10, he would have buried it.
‘Had that gone in, it would have been very interesting.’
Chris Davey, Chris Boyland, Sampey and Alex Boxall all spent time off the pitch as the game wore on and Cardiff took control.
But Barnes felt there were plenty of positives for Fareham.
He said: ‘We were excellent in the first half so the next challenge is to see if we can put two halves together like that. We have made some massive improvements.
‘We can be hard on ourselves and the guys were gutted at the end of the game.
‘But there were also massive amount of positives.
‘Some of our play in the first half was exceptional.’