Lee Bradbury reflected on the stoppage-time equaliser which forced his Hawks into an FA Trophy replay and admitted: We are gutted.
Ed Harris’ 67th-minute effort looked set to earn the Westleigh Park outfit a second-round triumph at Whitehawk on Saturday.
However, in the third-minute of time added on – Lady Luck deserted the Hawks and Sami El-Abd drove home a leveller to snatch a 1-1 draw.
The pair will battle it out again for a place in the last 16 in tonight’s replay at Westleigh Park (7.45pm).
Bradbury admitted the weekend result left a nasty taste in his mouth – after the Hawks had done enough to seal a spot in the third round.
But he was pleased his side’s Trophy quest was still on.
‘We are gutted not to have won it first time around,’ said the manager.
‘It is frustrating to lose a goal so late in the game.
‘They had a little bit of good fortune but we also paid the price for a slight lapse in concentration at the back.
‘It is a shame because we defended well all game – with players putting their bodies on the line.
‘The most important thing, though, is we are still in the hat for the next round.’
As expected, it proved a cagey tie from the start – with neither side giving much away.
Defences were on top and chances were few and far between in the early skirmishes.
The best opportunities in the opening 35 minutes fell to the Hawks.
The influential Nic Ciardini featured on more than one occasion in their best work.
But for the final 10 minutes of the first half, the Hawks found themselves under pressure for the first time.
Goalkeeper Scott Bevan again excelled himself.
His class ensured the two teams went into the interval level, with a couple of outstanding saves.
It was Harris who made the all-important breakthrough midway through the second period.
He rose majestically above the home defence to head in Perry Ryan’s pinpoint free-kick and give his side a deserved lead.
Bradbury then replaced striker Dennis Oli with defender Ryan Woodford.
And the ploy to protect what the Hawks had almost worked.
They could even have put the game safe when Sahr Kabba was presented with a golden opportunity.
He should have put the game beyond doubt three minutes from time when he burst clear.
But with just the goalkeeper to beat he fired past the far post and it proved a costly miss.
‘It was a cagey affair from the start and I felt there was never going to be many goals in it,’ said Bradbury.
‘Once we went ahead I thought we would go on and win it.
‘And if we had taken our late chance then Whitehawk would have been dead and buried.’
It was not to be, though. With time running out, the Hawks failed to defend a free-kick from the right.
And when the ball fell perfectly for El-Abd he drilled it into the bottom corner.
‘Their uneven bobbly pitch didn’t help us,’ said Bradbury.
‘We are looking forward to getting them back to our pitch which will suit our passing game.
‘The players are extremely disappointed but won’t need much picking up for the replay.’