Loxwood manager Dave Cocoracchio has said his side will be keeping their feet firmly on the ground despite a fine 2-1 win over title hopefuls Eastbourne Town on Saturday.
The Magpies put in another sterling display to consolidate sixth-place in Division 1, just behind their opponents, who were relegated from the Ryman League last season.
Although currently fifth, Town were tipped as front runners for immediate promotion this season and trail leaders Pagham by 11 points with four games in hand.
It was the home side, however, that put on a more convincing showing in a dress rehearsal for next month’s RUR Cup final and led 1-0 at half-time through Shaun Findlay’s goal just before the interval, while Dean Wright made it 2-0 three minutes into the second period.
Town pulled a goal back on 68 minutes as Eddie French missed a header from a set piece and Matt Darby tapped home at the far post, but their hopes were all but ended when captain Sean Kelly was shown a second yellow for kicking the ball away after a foul was given against him.
Loxwood’s Matt Hoyte was shown a second yellow with three minutes plus injury-time left to play, but the hosts, who had spurned a series of excellent chances throughout the second half, had done enough for the three points.
Cocoracchio said: “I’m delighted with the result, but more importantly I am delighted with the manor of the performance and the way we played as well because it was a thoroughly-deserved win.
“To be frank, we were the much better team for the whole match and should have won by a bigger margin than we did. It was a very convincing win against a team that are hotly fancied.”
Despite the win, however, the Loxwood boss said his side wouldn’t set new unrealistic targets, “We do not want to get carried away,” he added.
“We are hitting a level now which is very consistent. We are looking solid defensively, good going forwards and we create lots of chances.
“We have got a big backlog of games though, which is want happens when you are successful in cup competitions. I know it’s an old cliché, but we will take one game at a time.”
The game started at a fast tempo and continued at that pace until Loxwood took the lead on 41 minutes as the outstanding Findlay cut in by the left of the box and riffled a shot from 23 yards into the right-hand corner.
Wright added a second shortly after the break as he swivelled on the edge of the box and fired into the left-hand corner for another good finish.
Tom Familton put a free header wide, Wright put over the bar and then skewed wide when he could have slid in Findlay.
After Derby pulled a goal back, being a player light hindered the visitors as Sam Smith was hardly called into action in the closing stages.
Loxwood will be without the injured Lewis Scally and under-18s Ollie Gill and Tom Summerfield when they visit reigning champions East Preston tonight.