OLLIE PALMER climbed off his sick bed to strike twice but the victory Adi Aymes felt Hawks deserved was snatched away as AFC Hornchurch hit back to draw 2-2.
Palmer’s goals saw the visitors fight back from 1-0 down to go 2-1 up.
But Hornchurch substitute Leon McKenzie fired a late equaliser.
Hawks then had Ryan Woodford red carded in injury-time to sour the mood further.
Aymes, though, was upbeat with what he saw from his team in the second 45 minutes.
The caretaker boss lauded the never-say-die attitude of his team.
‘The side gave everything they had in the second half and I thought we were outstanding,’ said Aymes.
‘We did all the things we failed to do in the first half.
‘The lads passed the ball well and we ripped them to shreds.
‘One of the things about this team is they possess a never-say-die attitude and don’t know when they are beaten.
‘I felt we could have gone on and won the game but we paid the price for a mishap at the back.’
Palmer, who missed training in the run up to the game with flu, took his tally to seven for the season with his two second-half strikes.
Ultimately, it wasn’t enough for victory, though.
The Hawks’ seventh draw of the season leaves them in the bottom three as the search goes on for a new manager.
Tonight they kick off their Hampshire Senior Cup campaign at Burnaby Road against United Services (7.45pm).
They will hope to start the game better than they did at Hornchurch.
The Urchins ran the midfield in the first half as they put the Hawks under increasing pressure.
It was only a matter of time before they made it count.
And the anticipated breakthrough came on 22 minutes.
From one of a series of searching crosses, Martin Tuohy thumped home a header.
‘We were slow getting out of the blocks,’ admitted Aymes.
‘On a bobbly pitch the lads quickly lost confidence in their passing game.
‘We couldn’t get on the ball and there were too many gaps allowing Hornchurch to pick up the second balls.’
It was a totally different story after the break as Aymes’ side rediscovered their desire and determination.
The game was turned on its head as Palmer, twice in five minutes, ran through the home defence to finish and put the Hawks in front.
Palmer had a great chance to complete his hat-trick soon afterwards but was denied by a good save.
At that stage the home side were rattled and arguing among themselves as they came close to imploding.
A first away win of the season looked on the cards for Hawks.
But their tendency to shoot themselves in the foot at vital moments surfaced again as they conceded a poor goal late on to draw.
A speculative forward ball was allowed to bounce on the edge of the Hawks area and with defender Woodford and keeper Clark Masters hesitating, subsitute Leon McKenzie nipped in to prod the ball into an empty net.
There was further disappointment for Woodford when he was sent-off in stoppage time for a second bookable offence.
Hawks: Masters 7, Newton 6, Ryan 6, Hutchinson 7, Harris 7 (Pearce 83mins), Woodford 6, Ramsey 7 (Roberts 72mins), Bailey 6, Palmer 9 (Jones 80mins), Nanetti 7, Taggart 7