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Alex Pike reflected on the bitter taste of opening-day defeat and admitted: It’s a learning curve.

Gosport Borough embarked on their eagerly-anticipated Conference South adventure with the visit of Dover Athletic to Privett Park on Saturday.

But the dream debut was not forthcoming.

Instead, sloppy defending by the hosts gifted Craig Stone the opportunity to net the Kent side a 1-0 triumph.

Pike insisted their were plenty of positives to take from the game, though.

‘It’s a learning curve for us – losing to a poor goal against a side who nearly won promotion to the Conference National in the play-offs last season,’ said the boss.

‘On set-pieces we just about edged it but then a poor goal gave them victory.

‘I can’t remember them troubling us too much from set-pieces.

‘So what we need to do is take the positives – and there were plenty of them – into our next match at Basingstoke tomorrow night.’

Prior to Stone’s winner – which came on the hour – Borough had spent much of the time on the back foot.

However, they still looked capable of taking a point for their efforts – particularly with the Kent visitors restricted to long-range efforts keeper Nathan Ashmore had no difficulty saving.

When Borough did manage to unshackle themselves from the first-half onslaught, Rory Williams chased a superb through ball from Mike Gosney only to chip a shot yards wide.

Gosney should have done better himself when he took on the Dover defence single-handed only to delay his finish deep in the penalty area.

Justin Bennett had just lifted a shot over when tragedy struck at the other end.

A simple cross into the penalty box was not dealt with by Borough’s defence – or Ashmore – and Stone was in to fire the ball home.

The visitors were fortunate, though, when a bone-shuddering challenge by Ricky Modeste on Ashmore was deemed to be worth nothing more than a yellow card.

And with time ticking down, Lady Luck smiled on the them again when Sam Pearce’s acrobatic volley was somehow turned over the bar by keeper Mitch Walker.

‘I’m not going to embarrass myself or the club with my feelings about the refereeing decision that allowed Dover to finish the match with 11 men,’ said Pike.

‘Their number seven took out Nathan Ashmore for what should have been a straight sending off instead of a yellow card.

‘But there it is, it has been a tough baptism for us but at least we know what needs to be done from here on in.’

Gosport Borough: Ashmore, Hinshelwood, Poate, Brown, Molyneaux, Pearce, Igoe, Smith, Williams, Bennett, Gosney. Subs: Dunford, Forbes, Wooden, King, Barfoot

Dover Athletic: Walker, Kamara, Wynter, Stone, Orlu, Forbes, Modeste, Carew, Charles, Murphy, Harrington. Subs: Elder, Cogan, Ademola, Bakara, Kinnear