Alton’s recent resurgence continued with a fine 2-0 Premier South victory over Camberley.
After such a tough start to their Combined Counties adventure, they now sit comfortably in mid-table.
They had a midweek off, too – apart from organising a friendly with US Portsmouth, after their Premier Challenge Cup match against Molesey was postponed because their opponents were in Surrey County Cup action instead.
The win over Camberley was not without controversy, as manager Kevin Adair was shown the red card for something the officials claimed he said, soon after tempers had boiled over when Alton’s Louis Russell was sent off for retaliation after he was the victim of a nasty foul.
Adair had to spend the last 13 minutes away from his usual perch pacing in front of the dugout, and he said: “It was a good win for us.
“One of our targets is to have more clean sheets, so that was a positive to take from it. But there wasn’t a lot of quality in the game – it wasn’t as free-flowing as our match at Farnham. It was a bit stop-start.
“But we got the job done.
“We missed a good chance early on which might have settled us down a bit.
“Matt Benham put us ahead and then late on Jack Fowler made it safe.
“We had similar games earlier in the season which we didn’t win, so I think it’s an indication that we are coming to terms with what we need to do in this league.
“We are better at managing games now and adapting what we have to do and being a bit clever about things.
“Some people may call it the dark arts, but everyone does it – you have to manage games while staying within the laws.
“That could be slowing things down a bit when it’s not going your way, that’s what you have to do. It happens at every level now. I think we are better prepared to deal with things now than six weeks ago.
“We are better prepared squad wise too – we have plenty of strength available to us now.
“I’m not someone who looks at league tables too much at this stage of the season, although it is nice to be higher than we were.
“I’ve always said that I believed if we could stick together we would get better. I didn’t for one minute think we would be a bottom-three side in the Combined Counties.
“It was a case of keeping the squad together believing in what we were doing and seeing what would happen. This month will be a better time to judge where we are, and then we will set ourselves little goals for every six weeks.
“We’ll go about things our way and try to improve the squad and get more out of the players we have, and where we end up will be dictated by how well we do and how consistent we can be.
“We are always looking at what players are out there. When we were in the Wessex League we weren’t really in the market for players – if a player was from the Pompey area, there are seven teams from around there so why would they want to come to Alton? Apart from Alresford, we had no-one near us.
“Now we have quite a few teams quite close – if a lad is from Camberley, for instance, we’re in amongst it now.
“I’m happy with the squad I have got but you can always improve. And we struggled with injuries and availability in August and you never know if that will happen again in January or February.
“We’ll keep our ears to the ground.”
Alton have a tough home match tomorrow (Saturday) when they entertain high-riding Abbey Rangers at Anstey Park (3pm).