Max Mitchell was taking plenty of positives despite a defeat away to "champions-elect" Hornchurch.

The Potters Bar Town boss saw his side fall to a 3-0 loss at in the Isthmian League Premier Division, the Scholars' first reverse in eight league games.

But they only went behind in first-half stoppage time before conceding two in five minutes around the midway point of the second period.

And that kept the boss from being too frustrated.

Welwyn Hatfield Times: Nathan Cooper heads Hornchurch into the lead at the end of the first half. Picture: TGS PHOTONathan Cooper heads Hornchurch into the lead at the end of the first half. Picture: TGS PHOTO (Image: TGS Photo)

He said: "I felt we were excellent and in that first half we really competed.

"We let ourselves down on a set-piece but I felt we had the better of the exchanges in the half.

"We've come away to a club that for me are the champions elect and they have been that for a long while.

"They do the basics really well and have a lot of experience but I felt we implemented our way of playing really well, mainly in the first half.

"Second half, we never gave up. There was a lot of effort in there and we could have caved in but we didn't.

"That was really important and the balance of the squad looked really good.

"We played some good stuff in moments but just lacked a little cutting edge in the final third.

"We worked the ball into some good positions but our final ball let us down.

"We have to pick ourselves up but that was [only] our first league defeat in eight and against a top side."

Hornchurch did miss a penalty before the final two goals, the ball skied over the bar by Tom Wraight, and other that that, there wasn't too much to test on-loan Wycombe Wanderers goalkeeper, Laurence Shala.

That didn't mean he wasn't worthy of praise.

Mitchell said: "He made a double save that was really good and came from crosses which he was brave to do so.

"It was a good test for Laurie against a big, physical and experienced side and he comes out of the game with a lot of credit.

"But other than that double save and the goals, there wasn't loads for him to do."

Loan deals have been the focus of talk this week for the Scholars after the third of young players picked up on a temporary basis from League One Stevenage, David Hicks, made his first bow for the senior club.

That was David Hicks who came off the bench against Crystal Palace in the Bristol Street Motors Trophy, following in the footsteps of Makise Evans and Theo Alexandrou.

And Mitchell  is more than happy to keep giving youngsters a chance.

He said: "We're open to giving any young player from any club an opportunity, irrespective of the relationship we have with Stevenage.

"You have to give opportunities to young players sometimes and it is up to them to go and take it.

"Hicksy, Makise and Theo have come in over the last 12 months and done really well.

"We'll do that again and I know we're working on something at the moment."

Next up now is Saturday's home game against Whitehawk and Mitchell says they are getting close to being able to call on some of their injured stars.

He said: "Every game is important at this level, you need to pick up points.

"We're still three or four players and two or three weeks away from having them back into the squad, the likes of Brandon Adams, Sam Chaney and Calvin Dickson but we are doing all we can to speed up that process."