Manager Craig Denton said there were positives for Worksop Town to take out of their Northern Premier League South East Division debut, despite a 3-2 defeat at Loughborough Dynamo.
The Tigers fought back from 3-1 down, having earlier led briefly, and struck the woodwork twice in the second period.
Denton said: “Their attitude and desire shows we can compete and pick up points in this league.
“I look at the passion and desire as a positive. We need to find out feet at this level. I am learning and our players are learning.
We asked them to show character at half-time, to go out and get a goal and make it 3-2... and they did.
“For the second 45 minutes we controlled the game. Matt Reay’s header was cleared off the line, Steve Wooley hit the bar and Pembo (Max Pemberton) went up and hit the crossbar again — three chances where we could have found ourselves leading in the second. But it wasn’t to be our today.
“But as a positive we came out all guns firing in the second half and we really put Loughborough under pressure.”
Leon Mettam had given the Tigers a 16th minute advantage, slipping the ball under the keeper on the turn from a Ben Rhodes ball.
But within a minute Curtis Burrows had levelled before he quickly converted a penalty, awarded for a Pembeton foul.
A minute before half-time Will Norcross made it 3-1, only for Andrew Gascoigne to fire in from 20 yards for the Tigers five minutes into the second period.
But despite dominating the second period the visitors were unable to strike again to earn a point.
Denton added: “You can’t give any team that advantage at half-time.
“It’s a massive mountain to climb.
“We messed up in the first half because you can’t come in at half-time losing 3-1.”