FC CLACTON manager Tom Austin believes his side are close to getting back on the victory trail.

The Seasiders produced an improved performance but lost 3-1 at Thurlow Nunn League high-fliers Newmarket Town on Saturday.

It stretched their winless run to five premier division fixtures, with the last success being a 5-1 thrashing of Haverhill Rovers in November.

However, Austin feels his side have turned a corner and will get back to winning ways soon - hopefully in this weekend's home fixture against Long Melford (3pm).

"It was always going to be a hard game but we were competitive throughout at Newmarket," said the Clacton boss.

"They've only lost once at home.

"They're second in the league and flying in terms of confidence.

"It certainly wasn't a disgrace to lose and we could have got something from the game, having dominated the first half but gone in 1-0 down.

"We also hit the bar.

"Overall, it was a positive, improved performance - hopefully a sign of things to come.

"We're close to getting back to winning ways and picking up points and things are coming together.

"Their captain came over afterwards and praised our performance.

"I know we'd rather have points than compliments but it makes you realise it's not all doom and gloom.

"In some respects there's a bit of pressure now, because the pack of sides below us have closed the gap.

"But we've had a tough run of fixtures and injuries and suspensions have come at the wrong time.

"Our fortunes will change soon. I'm sure of it."

Clacton are eighth in the table, with 29 points from their 19 matches.

A cluster of teams are breathing down their necks but they have all played at least one game more - five in the case of tenth-placed Brantham Athletic.

"Expectations have changed and we've become victims of our own success, because of what's happened in the last year or so," added Austin.

"We put pressure on ourselves and it's a stronger league this year, with more money being thrown around.

"In the past it's always been about staying up and avoiding relegation.

"That pressure was always there, apart from one season when we finished tenth.

"But we're not even thinking along those lines now and that shows how far we've come.

"We're looking upwards, rather than over our shoulders, and our next win will be like a breath of fresh air.

"It'll be great to get that feeling and mentality back, because winning definitely breeds confidence."

Kevin Coyle, who scored Clacton's goal at Newmarket, is suspended this weekend but the Seasiders should hand a debut to new signing Jordan Blackwell, who has joined from Stanway Rovers.

"Jordan will help us push on," said Austin.

"He's a wide player (right-sided) who loves to run at defenders and make things happen. He's exciting to watch."