The Hawks missed out on the chance to go top of the Ryman League premier division tonight after slipping to a shock 2-1 home defeat to basement boys Met Police at Westleigh Park.
Boss Lee Bradbury saw his high-flying side concede a last-minute goal, before lamenting an inability to perform in both boxes on an embarrassing night for the hosts.
‘At one end we didn’t defend well enough and at the other we needed to be far more clinical,’ said Bradbury.
‘It was just one of those nights when things wouldn’t run for us.
‘It is hugely disappointing because our home record is very good – we just couldn’t break them down.
‘We have scored a lot of goals this season but tonight we couldn’t get the ball in the net when we most needed it most.
‘And then they hit us with a sucker punch from a free-kick that deflected in off the wall.
‘For 20 minutes of the game we went too direct – we have to keep playing to our ethos of keeping the ball down.
‘It is important we keep believing and continue to be brave on the ball.’
The best of the early chances fell to home striker Jason Prior after eight minutes, but he dragged his shot wide of the far post.
Met Police then stunned the Hawks by taking a 26th-minute lead, following poor defending from the hosts.
A long cross landed in the six-yard area and with Dan Strugnell and Ryan Young hesitating, Matt Lane nipped in to hook the ball into the roof of the net.
Minutes later, visiting goalkeeper Nathan Baxter produced an excellent diving save to keep out George Barker’s fiercely struck shot.
The Hawks then breathed a sigh of relief before the interval when Luke Robertson went clear, only to send his shot flying narrowly over the bar.
Brian Stock smashed a thunderous half-volley against the foot of the post as the hosts upped the tempo at the start of the second half.
The Hawks soon got their reward with a 51st-minute equaliser.
Barker whipped in a corner, Matt Paterson flicked it on at the near post and Ryan Woodford headed neatly into the corner of the net.
Substitute Alfie Rutherford was denied by a last-ditch block as the Hawks intensified their efforts.
Bradbury also sent on James Hayter as an extra attacking option.
But in stoppage-time, it was Met Police who hit the Hawks with a sucker punch goal from a free-kick.
Substitute John Nurse fired home from the edge of the area past the wall and beyond the diving Young.
Hawks: Young, Strugnell, Fogden, Stock, Woodford, Harris, Swallow, Lewis, Prior, Paterson, Barker
Subs: Robinson, Hayter, Medway, Rutherford, Tarbuck
n Bognor took full advantage of the Hawks’ slip-up to leapfrog them into second place in the table, following an impressive 2-0 win at Staines Town.
Second-half goals from Sami El-Abd and Jimmy Muitt handed Jamie Howell’s men all three points.