MALDON and Tiptree assistant boss Mark Levey insists there is a long way to go in the title race - and refused to be downbeat after losing at championship rivals Brightlingsea Regent.
The Jammers lost 1-0 in the top-of-the-table Ryman League division north contest at North Road on Saturday.
They remain three points clear at the summit, although Regent have two games in hand. Third-placed Thurrock - six points behind - have also played a game less.
Levey, who works alongside first-team boss Kevin Horlock, admitted being disappointed by Saturday's result.
However, he believes there is still a very long way to go in the title race.
"Naturally, we were disappointed with the result," he said.
"Brightlingsea played as well as they possibly could, whereas we didn't play to our full potential.
"Both goalkeepers made two good saves and it was a typical top-of-the-table clash.
"But the fact their goal took a double deflection on the way in just about summed up the afternoon, from our point of view.
"However, we've never got too high or carried away when we've won this season.
"Equally, on the rare occasions when we've lost, we've never been too downhearted.
"There's still a very long way to go and I'm sure the boys will bounce back positively.
"I'm confident we'll go on to do what we need to do, in order to achieve our ambitions.
"We have 12 games left, worth 36 points.
"We know that if we keep winning, we'll have every chance of going up and we've got to treat them all as cup finals.
"Every one of them will be nail-biting for different reasons and there's lots to look forward to.
"It's certainly not going to be easy but I'd rather than our remaining fixtures than Brightlingsea or Thurrock's."
By a strange quirk of the fixtures, Maldon's next game is at home to Thurrock on Saturday.
Their visitors are also firmly in the title race and look well-placed for a play-off place at least.
Levey says his young squad are relishing the prospect of another top-of-the-table game.
"We've got so many young players and that means getting the consistency we'd like can sometimes me an issue," he said.
"However, not many of our lads have been in a situation like this before.
"It's a new experience and a learning curve, which may mean that sometimes performances aren't quite of the level we'd hope for.
"We've told the boys to absolutely relish it, though.
"We've always been very open about our ambition for the season, clearly stating that we want promotion.
"So to be top of the table at the business end of the year is exactly what we want.
"We'd much rather be in this position than in mid-table, playing dead rubber matches for the last few weeks."
Regent’s goal came in the 74th minute and was a near-post, flicked header from Tom Richardson, from Josh Gould’s throw.
Maldon keeper Daniel Wilks also made great saves from Richardson and Harry McDonald, while Regent stopper Sam Cowler did brilliantly to deny Maldon substitute Rhys Henry and Femi Akinwande.