HAYLING UNITED paid the price for sloppy defending as they lost 4-3 to Alton Town at the College Ground.
The struggling Humbugs are already facing up to a daunting battle for survival in the Wessex League premier division.
Their cause is not being helped by a tendency to gift their opponents soft goals.
They dominated for long periods against John Robson’s Alton and twice came from behind to level.
Crucially, though, they let in Steve Brown to steal maximum points, as the visitors won 4-3.
At the other end, Hayling striker Steve Black spurned a glorious chance with the score at 3-3.
It was an absorbing contest and Hayling hit the front when Black headed an opener.
Alton responded and strikes from Brown and Scott Sanderson gave them the lead.
Just before the interval, Alton too showed they are also capable of making massive gaffes.
Keeper Craig Atkinson somehow managed to completely miss his kick in clearing and Black was in to walk the ball into the net.
Brown then fired his side into the lead before Hayling’s never-say-die attitude kicked in and Julian Boniface netted an equaliser on 85 minutes.
Sadly for the large following of Hayling fans, the hosts threw the game away with 30 seconds of injury-time remaining.
Brown was given acres of space to strike the winner from point-blank range.
‘The match was there to be won and unfortunately it wasn’t to be our day again,’ said Paul.
‘All we need is a little bit of luck to get us through a difficult period.
‘Then I feel sure we will begin to pick up some points.
‘The lads are playing reasonably well but far too often lose concentration and get punished for it.
‘So we know what needs to be done.
‘The lads were as distraught as I was afterwards, which gives me some idea they really care about pulling together to put things right and start taking a few points.’