Alex Pike was left to count the cost of missed chances as Gosport Borough had to settle for an opening day 0-0 draw with St Albans City.
The Borough boss saw Tom Dunford, Justin Bennett and substitute Lee Wort all unable to take presentable opportunities that would have sealed a home win in the renamed National League South.
Instead, the game ended in a stalemate with new signing George Barker providing greater attacking urgency, although it was still not enough to find a way past Joe Welch in the St Albans goal with Bennett’s strike against the crossbar the closest either side came.
Pike said: ‘I’m a bit disappointed to be honest.
‘We had the best chances of the game.
‘Nathan Ashmore only had one save to make, but St Albans were a physical presence and a threat all game.’
Bennett – last season’s leading goalscorer in the division – could not capitalise on the loose ball after Jamie White’s shot had been palmed away as the ball looped over the crossbar.
But the striker nearly produced a fine finish when he struck the woodwork from a tight angle midway through the second half.
Wort might have snatched all three points with the inspired St Albans keeper clawing his shot out of the top corner.
But assistant boss Mick Catlin was not too downbeat with the team’s efforts at the start of a long season.
He said: ‘It was a typical first game of the season. I thought it was a bit cagey but we had two great chances to win the game.
‘Their keeper made a good save from Jamie White and then Justin Bennett followed up, it hit him on the back and went over the crossbar somehow.
‘And the keeper made another good save in the second half, pushed it out and Bennett hit the crossbar from the angle.
‘They were probably the best two chances of the game.
‘They were a big, strong side and they bombarded us with balls into the box. But we stood up to a stern defensive test very well. On another day, we would have come out 2-0 winners.
‘On the balance of the chances, we should have won.
‘But both sides will be happy with a clean sheet and it’s a point on the first day. It’s a starting point
‘It was end-to-end and both sides had a go. I don’t think it was a dull 0-0 draw.’
With five debutants starting the game and Barker also given his opportunity, it underlined that Borough now have strength in depth with several first-team regulars from last season not even on the bench.
Dan Wooden, Adam Wilde, Dan Woodward and Steve Ramsey were among those not involved and there is now fierce competition for places.
Borough now travel to Weston super-Mare tomorrow night and there is an opportunity to rotate the squad if required.
Catlin said: ‘We needed more strength in depth in the squad but it’s hard to keep everyone happy if they are not playing.
‘We will take each game on its merits but we felt that was the right team for that game.’
GOSPORT: Ashmore, Cuthbertson, Woodford, Poate, Williams, Scott (Barker, 60), Harding, Robinson, Dunford, White (Wort, 72), Bennett. Subs not used: Carter, Walker, Ryan.