It proved an unhappy return for Ian Saunders as his Petersfield Town side slipped to a 2-0 Southern League division one central defeat at Kings Langley.
The Rams boss, who had been in America for five weeks with the Army, decided to take a back-seat role in his first game back.
‘I wanted to watch and re-evaluate things after being away,’ said Saunders.
‘Since I have been away the team have shown some good form.
‘So it was disappointing to lose in my first game back.
‘We did, however, find ourselves up against a good team in very difficult playing conditions.
‘If we had taken an early chance it might have been a different story.
‘Then we conceded two goals in the next 20 minutes to leave us fighting an uphill struggle.’
In the opening minute, a good passing move got Joe Briggs in behind.
But he could not keep his footing on the slippery surface and failed to get a shot away.
Kings Langley made the Rams pay with two goals in six minutes.
Lorenzo Ferrari scored a stunning solo effort and five minutes later the hosts added a second from a rebound.
‘Their two goals took the wind out of our sails,’ said Saunders.
‘We didn’t feel we deserved to be two goals behind at the break and gathered ourselves.
‘Our second half was much better and, again, if we had scored early on when we had the chance we could have got back into it.’
Alex Przespolewski rounded the Langley keeper but just when he looked to celebrate a goal a home defender came from nowhere to clear the ball off the line.
‘We kept persevering and it was disappointing to come away with nothing,’ added Saunders.
‘I feel the players are settling down at the new level after our promotion.
‘We have more than competed and I can see a positive future for us in this league.
‘In recent weeks we have picked up a lot of good points.
‘There is a lot we can take from this defeat.’