Holwell Sports boss Neil Miller wants to see more hunger and potency from his side after starting their UCL campaign with defeat.
Opening with a trip to Northamptonshire to take on Rushden and Higham, Holwell were sunk by a Lewis O’Dell hat-trick in a 4-1 reverse.
While Miller recognised there were plenty of areas for improvement he believed the scoreline was harsh on his side who had equalised through Leighton Nicholson’s penalty early in the second half.
“It’s not what you want from your first game of the season, but 4-1 was flattering for them to be fair,” he said.
“We dominated the last 15 minutes of the first half and then the first 15 minutes of the second half and got our rewards, but then fell away.
“You can work on certain things like formations and tactics on the training ground, but hunger comes from within; it’s something you can’t teach. It should always be there.”
O’Dell put the hosts ahead when he was allowed to run from deep before rifling a shot into the left-hand corner from 20 yards.
Nicholson’s clinical finish from the penalty spot found the same corner nine minutes after the break to get Holwell up and running.
But when a simple crossfield ball was flighted to the far side of the box Holwell’s back four failed to track O’Dell’s run and he neatly lobbed the advancing Ben Challis from an angle.
“We didn’t do our jobs defensively very well for the second goal and after that we struggled to get any momentum,” Miller added.
“We lost the will to fight a little bit. When four or five go into the trenches and others don’t, that concerns you.”
Two goals in the last five minutes put an added gloss on Rushden’s win, with O’Dell pouncing on a rebound from a breakaway after Holwell lost possession in their opponents’ half pressing for an equaliser.
Sub Lewis McMahon capped the scoring, combining in a neat one-two before firing a smart finish past Challis into the far corner.
While further matches together as a team will help tighten Holwell’s defensive play, it was also their lack of threat which concerned Miller.
“We had the majority of play and our ball retention was good, but we never really did anything with it,” he said.
“We looked pretty, but there was no cutting edge which was disappointing.
“There was an aerial threat from Ian Bitmead and Ross Dunlop which caused them a few problems, but otherwise we were a bit one-dimensional.
“There were positives. With the ball we looked confident and competent, but we need to work just as hard without the ball, if not harder.”
Miller is still looking to strengthen his squad as they prepare for their first home match of the season against Aylestone Park on Saturday (kick-off 3pm).
And they are expected to be boosted by the return of George Coser from suspension as well as Lee Peberdy and Mason Lee who were unavailable for the trip to Rushden through injury and unavailability, respectively.
“No-one really stood up and said that’s my shirt so there will be a little bit of looking over their shoulders for places,” added Miller.
“We need a reaction from Saturday to see how much they really want it.”