Loxwood manager Dave Cocoracchio says they have reached a ‘whole new level’ on and off the pitch after they clinched a sixth-placed finish in the Premier Division.
Alfie Gritt’s goal six minutes from time saw the Magpies overcome ten-man Eastbourne United 1-0 on Saturday to cap a spectacular end to the campaign.
They sat ninth when Cocoracchio retook over the manager’s job from the outgoing Mark Beard in March, 15 points behind the then fifth-placed opponents they overcame at the weekend.
Cocoracchio has been clear since taking charge that they wanted to clinch a top-six spot, but also start building for next season - where they are eyeing big things.
He said: “We were delighted, you always know when you come up against one of Tobi Hutchinson’s team they will be well organised. They are a decent team although their recent run has not been as good as they would have wanted.
“To achieve our objective we set the players nine weeks ago, when I think we were 15 points off Eastbourne United, to have that run and finish sixth is a great feeling.
“Nine weeks ago, we wanted to start our pre-season early in these final games. The rest of the season was about getting a collective group as a management team and players and a cohesive unit in the trenches.
“It was important we would look a team on and off the pitch and that has gone to a whole new level. That momentum has gone onto the pitch and the confidence is sky high.”
In a fairly drab affair on Saturday, the visitors had Harry Ducatel sent off for a two-footed over-the-ball lunge on Jordan Warren just after the half-hour mark.
From then chances were few and far in between until a move involving Byron Napper and Adrian Todd saw the latter cross for Gritt, who slipped the ball under the keeper in the 84th minute.
Cocoracchio added: “The game was very tight and there were not a lot of opportunities. We did have the better of, and pretty much controlled, the game. It should have been easier after they had a player sent off after half an hour, but to be fair, they played better with ten than 11, it was that age-old chestnut.
“We had two objectives before the game. One was application and commitment as a team and we managed that. Next was a clean sheet as it is not often we do not score, so would have a good chance of winning the game.”
Loxwood: Carruthers, Holvey, Scally, Colbran, Warren (Daniel 77), Davis (Todd 64), Napper, Frankland, Wood (House 71), Moore, Gritt.