Sammy Igoe believes it is too early to write Gosport Borough off as relegation candidates.
The ex-Pompey midfielder knows a thing or two about battles to beat the drop, having enjoyed a distinguished career spanning more than 500 games in every division from the Championship to the top flight of the Southern League.
Igoe famously scored for the Blues in a 3-1 win at Bradford on the final day of the 1997-98 campaign – a result which saved Alan Ball’s side from the drop from the second tier that season.
With Borough second from bottom of Skrill South after a 4-0 defeat at Bishop’s Stortford on Saturday, the forecast does not look promising.
The 38-year-old, however, believes his side has enough quality to ensure they will not require one of his last-day survival specials.
Igoe said: ‘It is too early for us to use that horrible phrase “relegation battle”.
‘If we can get a few results, things can change pretty quickly.
‘People will look at our results and think we’re not ready for this level.
‘To lose 4-0 looks bad but it wasn’t a 4-0 game. We didn’t deserve that.
‘We have got players who have played at this level before and who have played higher.
‘It’s just not quite happening for us at the moment.
‘I’ve been in a few relegation battles in my time.
‘When you lose a few games, everyone’s heads drop and you doubt whether you will ever win again.
‘It’s not very nice but I think we’ve got a good squad and we can turn the corner.
‘It needs everyone to work that little bit harder – you’ve got to do that when you’re not winning games.’
Borough were hit by an early blow at Bishop’s Stortford when Sean Francis powered home a header from a corner inside the opening 10 minutes.
But Alex Pike’s men then played some bright stuff and should have been level but Igoe was unable to beat keeper Joe Wright when he looked set to score.
Moments after Jamie Brown saw his header from close range also kept out, the home side doubled their lead through Matt Johnson as the Borough defence failed to close him down from a quick free-kick and he buried a low drive past Gareth Barfoot.
Cliff Akurang made it 3-0 early in the second half and Kyle Vasell’s penalty 20 minutes from time sealed matters.
Igoe said: ‘I thought they were a good side – probably the best side we have played this season.
‘They were well-drilled and knew exactly what they were doing.
‘But up until they scored the second goal, I felt we were the better side.
‘We had some chances to score and didn’t take them – myself included.’
Boss Pike felt his side improved on their showing at Bath City last week.
He said: ‘It was a worse result but it was a better performance.
‘We created five excellent chances and didn’t take any of them.
‘I was happier with the performance and I got a reaction out of the players.
‘We can be happy with the possession and the chances we created but we all know it’s goals that win games.
‘That’s the one area where we were lacking.
‘And maybe that’s where we have been lacking so far this season.’
GOSPORT: Barfoot, Forbes, Molyneaux (Smith, 60mins), Pearce, Poate, Igoe, Barton (Hinshelwood, 73mins), Brown, Wooden, Williams, Bennett (Woodward, 58mins). Subs not used: Ashmore, Dunford