Justin Gregory’s reign as Southwick Football Club manager started with a Southern Combination League Division 1 defeat on Saturday.
Gregory, Wickers’ third managerial appointment of this season, saw his team suffer a 3-2 defeat at ten-man league leaders Little Common.
Basement boys Wickers, still just a point adrift at the bottom, pushed Common all the way with a performance that impressed Gregory.
He said: "I could not have been prouder of the effort my players put in. We worked so hard, it was a shame we couldn't go away with something in the end.
"The character shown was superb, particularly after going two goals down at a team top of the league. We kept fighting and probably deserved something to show for our effort."
Commoners were quick out of the blocks and Wickers had to stand firm to withstand an early onslaught.
Jamie Crone thought he’d fired the home side into a fourth minute lead, only for his effort to be ruled out for offside.
Common continued to press and it was little surprise they went in front on 11 minutes.
Wes Tate’s through pass sent Crone clear and he slotted past the onrushing Southwick debutant goalkeeper Jack Gunn.
Tate fired over the crossbar following good work from Crone soon afterwards, before Lewis Parsons doubled Common’s lead after 15 minutes.
Wickers were gifted a way back in just shy of the half-hour as striker Sam Blundell was upended in the area, before dusting himself down to fire the penalty home.
Ryan Paul then received a second yellow in as many minutes with half time approaching to leave Little Common facing over 45 minutes with ten men.
Southwick were now in command and Blundell levelled the score at 2-2 on the hour.
Despite a man advantage, Wickers were hanging on for a point entering the final ten minutes.
Gregory’s hope of beginning his tenure with a valuable point was dashed three minutes later.
Tate proved the hero as he drove into Southwick's area, firing a low shot past a despairing dive from Gunn to hand Common another valuable three points as they target the title.
Southwick are without a game this weekend and return to action at home to Hailsham Town on Saturday, January 27.
SOUTHWICK: Gunn; Asgapour, McLennan, Dunk, Gregory; Shuga'a, Garrod, Funnell, Bidwell; Arnold, Blundell. Subs: Saunders (Funnell), Devine-McArley (McLennan), Ouachan (Arnold).