Horndean had goalkeeper Stefan Clark sent-off as they slipped to a 3-0 defeat at Winchester City in the Wessex League premier division.
Clark was controversially dismissed after 15 minutes, when the referee adjudged him guilty of preventing a goalscoring opportunity.
Deans manager Dave Carter was not impressed with the decision.
He said: ‘Stefan lost a high ball in the sun and dropped it.
‘In the resulting goalmouth scramble, we also felt he was fouled, before the referee awarded a penalty and sent him off.
‘Kev Chatfield took over between the posts and did terrific considering he is as blind as a bat.’
Horndean, who had already conceded the opening goal five minutes earlier, faced an uphill battle and Carter was full of praise with the way his team battled.
Louis Bell was denied by a terrific save from the home keeper and Tom Chapman hit the woodwork.
‘We worked ever so hard but by the end we were like the walking wounded,’ said Carter.
Fareham Town opened the year with a comfortable 2-0 win at basement-club Romsey Town and stretched their unbeaten run to five games.
It was tough going for both teams on a heavy pitch as the Reds gave a debut to new defender Nick Tayler, signed from Hamworthy.
‘We played well and looked solid,’ said Reds boss Matt Parr.
‘Nick Tayler had a good debut and played his part in us keeping a clean sheet.
‘Because of the conditions we had to change the way we played but the players adapted well.’
Chances were few and far between but the visitors made the breakthrough on 70 minutes, when substitute Gary Austin scored.
He latched onto a long ball forward and lashed his shot into the bottom corner.
Graham Lindsey made the game safe for the Reds, five minutes later, with a cool finish.