Paul Holland was happy with how his young Ilkeston FC side coped with the challenge of facing league leaders Whitby Town on Saturday after the Seasiders were held to a 0-0 draw.
The Robins were without experienced squad members Luke Foster, Anton Brown and Rory Coleman for the game, and with midfielder Mark Shelton having left for Alfreton Town on Friday, it meant a much-changed line-up.
A change to 5-3-2 and a spirited display followed, and despite being unable to break Whitby down, Holland was delighted the same could be said of his own players.
He said: “It was probably a point that I’ve been more proud of than at any other time in my career.
“The young lads fought and showed great spirit which is what we now have to do more between now and the end of the season.
“They’ve set themselves a standard against Whitby and now we have to stick together, improve on certain things and produce more of the same in upcoming games.
“Whitby like to pass the ball around as we’ve seen already this season and we wanted to put plenty of pressure on them.
“They’re a very good side and we competed well with them. Chances were bound to come if we kept working hard and that proved the case.”
Holland believes the fact that many of the squad have come through the ranks at Ilkeston together plays a big part in team spirit.
He added: “They fight for each other and they’re also a very young and fit set of players too which is something else we have to take advantage of.”
Saturday’s game was the second of five consecutive home games for Ilkeston, with Sutton Coldfield Town the visitors on Tuesday night (29th), Grantham Town on Saturday (3rd) and then Matlock Town in the Derbyshire Senior Cup next Tuesday.
Holland said: “We need to take advantage of having so many home games. These players will have dips but the fans need to get behind them like they did against Whitby as I thought the crowd was brilliant; they saw the endeavour being put in and appreciated it.”