‘Bitter pill to swallow’ for Doswell as injury-time ‘wonder’ goal costs Hawks crucial victory
Hawks maintained their unbeaten National South away record with a dramatic 3-3 draw against Braintree Town at Cressing Road.
Manager Paul Doswell admitted it felt like a defeat, however, after his side twice let a winning situation slip through their fingers.
Ninety-five minutes were on the clock when the Irons’ Rhys Murrell-Williamson thumped home a superb free-kick to deny the Hawks the chance to cut the gap on leaders Wealdstone to six points.
Doswell was hugely disappointed to see his side concede at the death for a second successive week.
'It is another point picked up away from home but it feels like a loss,' he said.
'You can't give three goals away and expect to win.
'We put ourselves in a position at 2-1 to go on and win the game and certainly when we led again at 3-2 with a couple of minutes remaining.
'Their final goal was a wonder free-kick but the foul should never have been awarded in the first place.
'It was a fitting end to a topsy-turvy game but a bitter pill to swallow.
'We dominated the game and were in control of it for 90 per cent of the time.
'Disappointingly, we kept giving them opportunities to stay in the game.
'That is the biggest disappointment from our perspective.
'We came here with the intention of picking up all three points and for most of the game it looked like we would.'
'When we are concentrating on keeping things tight at the back, their first two goals were poor ones to give away.'
The hosts opened the scoring on 23 minutes when a straightforward ball down the left caught the visitors out. Murrell-Williams got away and Alfie Cerulli knocked in his cross.
Jonah Ayunga equalised nine minutes before the break when he slipped past his marker and fired into the far corner.
On 64 minutes Josh Taylor put Hawks in front with an unstoppable shot on the turn.
That set the scene for a dramatic, breathless finale.
Morrell-Williamson forced home an 87th minute equaliser but, straight from the restart, substitute Alfie Rutherford restored the visitors’ lead.
The striker beat three defenders before firing home what looked like the winning goal - to go alongside his two last-minute winners against Braintree in last season’s National League campaign!
However, just like at Chelmsford in the FA Trophy the previous weekend, the Hawks failed to hang on.
'It looked like we had got out of jail with Alfie's goal,' said Doswell.
'Then the referee penalises Danny Kedwell for a foul that never was.
'Centre-halves had been making challenges like that all afternoon and not been penalised.
'When things like this happen to you, it is important to remain mentally strong.
'We can feel sorry for ourselves for a couple of days then we have to come back bright and bubbly against Weymouth on Boxing Day.'
The Hawks remain third, one point behind Slough Town and eight adrift of leaders Wealdstone with a game in hand on both of them.