Ebbsfleet United manager Steve Brown remained positive about his side’s performances - despite a third consecutive game without scoring.

The Fleet were beaten 1-0 at Basingstoke on Saturday in a game settled by Shaun McAuley’s first half long range free-kick, although Billy Bricknell hit the crossbar in both halves.

Defeat compounded a poor week for Brown’s men, who also lost to Whitehawk and drew 0-0 against Wealdstone, although the manager urged his players to keep their heads up.

He said: “What I don’t want people to do is go into their shells as we’ve had a couple of setbacks.

“What I need people to do is be brave and mentally strong.

“If you’d have asked me looking at the fixtures at the start of the season, if we’d have lost two out of the first five I’d have said no.

“But we have, so we have to stand up strong.

“I’m not so sure criticism is warranted after that second half today.

“I’m not going to talk about the referee, but we should have had a cast-iron penalty.

“Even their players have said to me after the game they got away with it.

“Their physio said the tackle mark was a yard inside the box.

“For a linesman and a referee to not come up with the right decision when it’s so blatant is hard to take.”

Brown added: “We’ll always work hard and that will turn into results, as it did last year, so what I’ve got to do is make sure the players remain positive.

“They’re positive as they feel they should have got an equaliser, they don’t feel that’s a 1-0 loss.

“The strike is out of this world and we’ve had enough opportunities today to have got back into the game.

“If we got an equaliser, they would have been on the back foot and our spirits would have been high, but we needed that goal.

“It’s very difficult at the moment and in terms of their mood in the dressing room, they’re understandably very upset - as I am.

“But you have to have the ability in football to say ‘OK we didn’t get the result, but what did we do well and what did we do poorly?’

“So we need to iron it out for the St Albans game in order to get back on track.”

Brown revealed he was disappointed with the way his side responded to going behind at Basingstoke, but also felt they were worth at least a point overall.

He explained: “I thought we started brightly and I was really pleased with the first 10 or 15 minutes.

“Then their goal is just a wonder goal.

“It’s a fantastic strike but it was a setback and I don’t think we dealt with it very well.

“For 15 or 20 minutes after that we were on the back foot and I thought Basingstoke took control of the game, with their confidence growing.

“We were at sixes and sevens, so I was quite pleased to get in at half-time as we looked a little disjointed.”

Brown added: “We had a chat at half-time and in the second half I can’t ask anything more from the players in terms of effort to try and get the equaliser.

“The goalkeeper’s made some very good saves and we hit the crossbar in both halves, so it’s two at Whitehawk and two today where we’ve lost both games 1-0 but overall have hit the post four times.

“You just need a bit of luck when it’s like that and you’ve got so much pressure.

“These one-nils are hard to take, as I honestly believe we haven’t warranted losing both the games 1-0. But we have.

“I’ve said many times before the strikers I have at the football club are here because they score goals - they’re proven goal scorers.

“We will turn it round and they will turn it round and go on to score many goals this season, but at the moment I’m coming off the pitch scratching my head about the opportunities we’ve created without scoring any goals.

“It’s hard to take but we can only go back onto the training ground and work hard as a group.”

Brown also confirmed Lloyd Harrington has only been ruled out for six weeks due to injury and not the whole season as originally reported.

Ben May, however, is facing four months without any exercise after visiting a specialist over his knee injury.

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