Sean Joyce praised his Bideford players for a gutsy performance in the 2-2 draw at Chesham United yesterday.
Despite having Steve Oliver sent off on his debut and finishing with Craig Duff, the midfielder, in goal, they fought for a point on the opening day of the season in the Calor League.
The match was played at frantic pace, providing superb entertainment for the supporters who travelled to Buckinghamshire from North Devon.
Only four years ago, Bideford began their final season in the Toolstation Western League with a 4-0 win over Bishop Sutton and the team are relishing their opportunity to play at a higher level.
"Games like that make it worthwhile being in the Southern Premier," said Joyce. "People forget how far we've come.
"Matching these teams and these towns is a great achievement.
"It's the first rung of proper football. You've got good players coming down from the Football League and good players with prospects of getting back into the League.
"I look back to when I was first in charge and it was a massive club down at the bottom of the table. You look what we have done."
Owen Howe hit Bideford's equaliser and Duff, with no previous goalkeeping experience, stood firm for almost 40 minutes to kept a clean sheet.
"We kept our shape and we protected him," said Joyce.
"When the goalkeeper comes out, you expect the worst.
"With the quality Chesham have got, they can go through the gears. They are one of the favourites (to win the league). They finished third last year. It just shows our guts.
"Just a little bit of naivety cost us the goals and in the end Ethan Phillips had a great chance to win it."
Phillips, who replaced Howe for the final seven minutes, shot wide from a tight angle after taking the ball past home goalkeeper Glenn Williamson.
Bideford had taken the lead through Connor Clifford, only for Chesham to hit back with goals from Drew Roberts and James Potton.
Oliver was dismissed for a last-man foul on Roberts but Biddy responded with a clinical finish from Howe.
The Robins have their first home game of the season on Tuesday when AFC Totton visit the Sports Ground (7.45pm).