Ben Barnes believes his depleted Fareham side remained competitive despite going down 3-1 to defending champions Team Bath Bucanneers.
The defeat ends the Henry Cort side’s run of five games unbeaten and sees them slip to sixth in National League conference west.
It was always going to be a tough ask to get the three points away from home, but it was made even harder by the unavailability of four key players – Rob Moore, James Seager, Rob Wilson and Alex Boxall.
However, performance director Barnes remains positive despite the outcome.
He said: ‘It shows the depth and quality we have that, despite missing four top players, we’ve been competitive against a team that won the league last year.
‘It was quite an even contest despite us missing four key players.
‘I was really pleased with how they took to the new formation.
‘There was one absolutely exceptional goal from one of their players and then for the other two goals we switched off defensively.’
The opening goal on 17 minutes was a moment of brilliance from Bath’s Navraj Degun and came against the run of play.
He beat three defenders, drove into the circle and smashed the ball into the top corner of the net.
The home side’s second goal came courtesy of a reverse-stick effort from John Sterlini from a swift counter-attack.
Fareham then found themselves 3-0 down early in the second period when Matthew Ming put away a penalty corner.
With just over 10 minutes to play, the visitors did get a consolation goal following a fierce strike from a narrow angle by Ben Hibberd.
Barnes praised the players who came into the side.
‘Chris Davey had a good game,’ said Barnes.
‘He’s had less game time but he really stepped up to the plate.
‘Jamie Young’s made his debut from the seconds and acquitted himself very well.
‘He didn’t look out of place.
‘It was nice to have Jon Price back in after a few weeks out injured.’
Ben Cooper scored in the second XI’s 2-1 defeat at home to Wimborne Wayfarers.