When Mick Catlin agreed to take on the Gosport Borough job he admitted it would be his "toughest ever challenge".
Today, on his managerial debut, the size of his task was laid bare as Boro' crashed to a 3-0 defeat against Hitchin.
The returning Jamie Brown (pictured in action this afternoon), back for his second spell at Gosport, provided his usual robust display and was Boro's star performer on the day.
In a feisty and physical game, nine yellow cards were handed out by referee Damith Bandara. Two second half goals condemned Gosport to another defeat despite courageously trying to overturn an early strike from Brett Donnelly.
Donnelly got the Canaries underway with a fifth minute goal that looked suspiciously offside but the result was sealed with a second from substitute Connor Vincent and a stoppage time strike from Trey Charles.
Optimism was high amongst the Boro' fans as the game kicked off in bright sunshine but the visitors took an early lead as Callum Donnelly chipped a clever pass over a static Gosport defence to his brother Brett, who applied a cool finish. The goal was allowed to stand despite the Hitchin player looking suspiciously offside. Boro' had stopped playing expecting the offside flag to be raised, allowing Donnelly the time to score unimpeded.
Gosport looked for a way back into the game but were often frustrated by a well organised Hitchin defence. Onwachu had the best opportunity for the home side after 23 minutes as he wriggled his way through but was only able to poke a close range finish against the upright.
Sam Woodward then blazed his shot over the bar when clean through. Sanchese was then upended deep in the Hitchin area leading to appeals for a penalty but referee Bandara wasn't interested, instead awarding a goal kick.
At the other end, Hitchin had a second goal disallowed as Bickerstaff was ruled offside in a tighter decision than when they actually scored earlier in the game. Bickerstaff was then denied by a superb save from Cafer after a half volley from the lively midfielder seemed set to dip under the bar and extend Hitchin’s lead.
Hitchin made a half time switch bringing on Smith for Callum Donnelly, who had sustain an injured ankle during the first 45 minutes. That substitution was quickly followed by another with Brett Donnelly being withdrawn and replaced by Vincent.
Vincent quickly made an impact, doubling Hitchin’s lead after seizing on a loose ball and rifling home.
Mick Catlin reacted by making a double change, bringing on Saidy and Mann for Woodward and Watts but Hitchin were in control and Cafer denied them a third with a superb save from McNamara.
However, there was to be a third deep into five minutes of stoppage time as substiute Trey Charles fired high into the roof of Cafer's net to add gloss to the scoreline.
GOSPORT: Cafer, Page, Sanchese, Lis, Medway, Sanders, Buse, Brown, Onwachu (Smith 78), Woodward (Saidy 60) & Watts (Mannu 60). SUBS NOT USED: Haddlesley & Leigh.
HITCHIN: Johnson, Cotter, Walster, Dowie, Webb, Bickerstaff, Kirkpatrick, C.Donnelly (Smith 46), B.Donnelly (Vincent 51), Green (Charles 80), McNamara. SUSB NOT USED: Rolfe, Bailey.
PICTURE: Tom Phillips
Updated 08:59 - 3 Oct 2017 by Site Manager