LITTLE Oakley boss Matt Carmichael feels his side are in a positive place heading into 2019 - as they proved with a hard-earned point at Holland FC on Saturday.

The Tendring rivals shared the spoils from a goalless draw and Carmichael felt it was an encouraging result, after the disappointment of losing to Harwich and Parkeston on Boxing Day.

He wants his side to be judged by their results and performances against the top sides in Thurlow Nunn League division one south, such as Holland.

And he felt the game was a pleasing yardstick in terms of measuring their progress.

“I’d have taken a point before the game,” he told the Standard.

“It was a positive result, especially after the disappointment of Boxing Day.

“It was a match between two well-matched sides.

“Holland probably had more possession in the final third but we had the better chances.

“So if you weigh it up, the score was a fair reflection of the game.

“Both teams were honest. There were some strong tackles but it was a fairly-contested game.

“Both tried to win but both defences and goalkeepers stood firm, so it was a good advert for the league.

“It’s one defeat in six for us now and within that run we’ve played sides above us in the table.

“That’s encouraging because we need to measure ourselves against the better teams.

“We know we’ll beat the sides below us, by turning up and working hard. Our ability should get us over the line.

“It’s against the better sides in the league that we have to judge our progress and I’d certainly put Holland in that bracket. Especially now they’ve got such great facilities.”

Oakley are tenth in the table heading into another north Essex derby this weekend, against Wivenhoe Town at the Memorial Ground.

The Dragons have lost eight in a row following their 2-0 reverse against Harwich, on Saturday.

“It’s going well and we’re enjoying it,” said Carmichael.

“The changing room’s a happy place.

“Even after our defeat the other day, there was still a lot of joking and banter.

“There’s a good dynamic within the group and they feed off each other.

“I think we can kick on in the second half of the season, with the players we’ve got, the players coming back and the players we’re bringing in.

“Hopefully this team will be in a position to challenge for the league next season because that has to be the aim.

“There’s no point doing it and being an also ran.

“If you’ve got any ambition, you have to push yourselves.”