Havant slipped into deeper trouble at the bottom of National League three London & south east, with a 33-20 defeat against fellow strugglers Luton at Hooks Lane.
The home side’s chances of securing a first league win of the season disappeared in a disastrous 15 minute spell in the second half when they had two players sin-binned.
Luton, who were also down to 14 men at the time, sensed their chance and scored three quick-fire tries to take the game away from Havant.
The defeat leaves Havant nine points adrift at the bottom and facing a bleak winter.
‘It is massively disappointing,’ said Havant coach Rob Matthews.
‘What we are achieving on the training paddock isn’t coming out on the park.
‘This is a harsh lesson for the team, showing the need to concentrate for the whole 80 minutes to win games.
‘It was the manner of the defeat that was most disappointing.
‘We started very well, indeed went seven points up but all of a sudden took our foot off the gas.
‘The unfortunate incident that saw us go down to 13 men was crucial.
‘When a side lacks confidence like we do at the moment it allowed Luton to grab the initiative and score three quick tries.
‘That left us playing catch-up.
‘I was impressed by the way we responded to score two very good tries but we’d left ourselves with too much to do.’
Havant went out focused and made their best start of the season, battering the visitors’ defence in the opening 15 minutes.
A good forward drive took the Havant pack over the line, with Nick Goodger coming up with the ball and Joel Knight adding the conversion.
‘It wasn’t pretty but I’d take a lot more tries like that over the rest of the season,’ said Matthews, right.
‘We knew after the way we had dominated the first 20 minutes that we should have had more points on the board though.
‘You could see that both sides desperately needed the win and a few more points would have damaged their confidence.’
Havant allowed Luton to ease their way into the game after that, scoring a penalty and a try before a Knight penalty saw Havant go into the break with a 10-8 lead.
The decisive moment came in the early stages of the second period when Havant’s Dickie Dukes was guilty of a high-tackle.
The full-back was yellow-carded but, in the fracas that followed, Havant forward Luke Marks and a Luton player were also sin-binned.
Luton exploited Havant’s double-sin-binning in devastating fashion, leaving the home side with a mountain to climb.
To their credit Havant refused to give up and hit back with two cracking tries of their own.
Quick hands saw the ball worked to winger Jaryd Robinson who danced down the touchline from 50 yards, and two minutes later good inter-play from the three-quarters saw Dukes run in for a try on the far side.
The game descended into another fracas at the end, with Havant having to accept another defeat.
‘Though this is the type of game we need to be winning if we are to survive, we still don’t feel it is a lost cause,’ said Matthews
‘We are only a third of the way through the season and we still have to play a number of teams around us.
‘With Luton picking up this bonus point win though, it is going to be a struggle.
‘But we feel, with the team we can put out, we are capable of beating teams like Staines and Bracknell.’