Whitley Bay manager Marc Nash felt there were positives to take from his side’s 3-1 defeat to league champions Shildon on Saturday.
But that did not mean the Hillheads boss was not disappointed with the mistakes that led to two penalties fopr the visitors.
He said: “This was an opportunity to see where we are at against a top side in the division. We were still missing three big players with Ross [Wilkinson] and Andy Robertson out injured and Callum Anderson withdrawing at late notice.
“However, I thought we were competitive throughout and got off to the perfect start with a great goal on the break.
“We needed to hold out longer and make them become edgy, but a poor error has led to the penalty that got Shildon back into the game.
“We should really have gone back in front as Tom Potter needs to bury chances like the one that fell to him, especially against the top sides as chances are at a premium.
“Then another poor clearance has gifted them another penalty, so we’ve basically handed them the advantage at half-time, which was disappointing.
“I felt we were much better in the second half, especially after Liam Brooks came on. He gave us a focal point in attack and really unsettled their back four with his willing running.
“It seemed Shildon were getting deeper and deeper, which tends to happen when you’re winning, and we were pushing as well, and in probably our best spell they knock the stuffing out of us with a deflected third goal.
“I was pleased we stuck at it, though, and showed some spirit, but I’ve learnt a lot from the game in terms of where we are and what needs improving.
“I thought Shildon were very efficient and have that winning mentality which takes years to build. In time, we hope to close the gap on the top four with what we are doing here.”