Sunderland youngster Luke Molyneux was given a rough introduction to the National League after making his Gateshead debut on Saturday.
Molyneux, 20, signed for the Heed on loan last week and was thrown straight into the starting XI for the trip to Ebbsfleet United, helping his side to a 1-0 win.
The winger has predominately played for Sunderland's under-23 side this season, but has also appeared for the first team after making his debut against Wolves in May.
Molyneux knows the cut and thrust of England's fifth tier will provide a different challenge, but believes regular game time will help his development.
"It was a very hard worked clean sheet today," said Molyneux after the Ebbsfleet game.
"It's a lot different from under-23s football and even Championship, League One football to some degree.
"It's physical and not all about passing the ball around well, you have to mix your game up a lot more and really get stuck in.
"My first impression of the squad is that they are a really good set of lads who most importantly all work hard for each other and stick at it until the last minute as you saw today.
"I thought it was a very tough game, tough for me being involved for the first time at this level but it was good to get out on the pitch because it's something that will help me progress and become a better player."
Molyneux was substituted with 20 minutes to go after being on the receiving end of several strong challenges.
Even so, the winger knows he may have to adapt certain parts of his game at a lower level.
"I got snapped quite a few times," added Molyneux.
"But that's what I'd expect, you're not going to get a lot of time on the ball and for me to take players on, I've got to be prepared to be snapped every so often.
"I feel fine physically though and I'm just looking forward to the next game."