Gosport Borough boss Alex Pike refused to use Sutton United’s 3G pitch as an excuse after seeing his side’s unbeaten start to the Vanarama League season come to an end.
Borough travelled to Gander Green Lane full of confidence, following four wins and four draws from their opening eight fixtures.
But a 1-0 loss, which saw the visitors miss two penalties, meant Pike’s side tasted defeat for the first time this season.
With all the talk in the build up to the game surrounding the home side’s artificial surface, Borough’s boss dismissed suggestions it played any part in the result.
Indeed, Pike was full of praise for the pitch, preferring to highlight his side’s inability to capitalise from two spot-kicks as where he felt the game was won and lost.
Speaking immediately after the game, he said: ‘I came here with trepidation about the 3G pitch and I thought it was superb.
‘I’m going away full of praise for it.
‘I think about 20 minutes in we didn’t even think about it being a different pitch to usual.’
Sutton kicked off the game dominantly, and it was no surprise that the first goal came from the home team, thanks to Craig McAllister’s strike.
It was a surprise, though, to see two penalties awarded to Borough – one in each half – and even more of a shock for Pike that neither went in.
Prolific striker Justin Bennett was the first man to be denied from 12 yards by Sutton stopper Ross Worner, with substitute Jamie White suffering a similar fate in the second half.
‘Like the defence said they can’t keep on keeping clean sheets,’ said Pike.
‘You rely on your strikers to score, especially when both have had penalties.
‘But they’ve both missed and I think they are misses.
‘The goalkeeper has saved them but they were easy saves for a goalkeeper of that standard to make.’
As the second half started it looked as if a changing-room dressing down had egged the Borough lads on, with the visitors coming out with renewed energy – the story of the season so far.
‘I felt that if we had come in 3-0 down we couldn’t have complained,’ said Pike.
‘Had we played like we did in the second half when we went 1-0 down, it would have been different.
‘It seems to be we have to be a goal down before we kick into gear and you know that although it’s been a good start to the season and that’s our first defeat, there has still been too many draws.’
However, despite the many chances given to Borough during the game it was with a heavy heart that the players left the Sutton ground.
For Pike, though, there were positives to take from a first defeat of the season as his side sit in fourth spot after nine games.
‘I think on reflection, maybe a draw would have been a fair result but it was not to be and we’ve had our undefeated run taken away from us.
‘Now, I am looking for a reaction against the players in Bath.
‘We create our own pressure by being so successful and long may that continue.’
Gosport Borough: Ashmore, Cuthbertson (Wort, 63), Woodford, Poate, Williams, Dunford, Wheeler (White, 79), Carter, Wooden, Bennett, Barker