Gosport Borough manager Alex Pike likened Maidstone United’s late winner to an arrow through the heart as his side lost 2-1 at the Gallagher Stadium.
With the game three minutes into stoppage-time, Borough were on course for a hard-earned point in the National League South game.
But substitute Alex Flischer broke Borough hearts by drilling home a left-footed shot past Nathan Ashmore and into the bottom corner of the net.
‘It was gutting and we didn’t deserve that,’ said Pike.
‘We felt we deserved to come away with something and in the dressing room afterwards we were all feeling a bit deflated.
‘Our cause wasn’t helped when we lost one central defender Ryan Woodford to illness in the morning and then another with Brett Poate injured after 20 minutes.
‘The artificial pitch aggravated his calf injury and he had to come off.
‘It is not sour grapes because I said beforehand I don’t think these pitches should be allowed.
‘Maidstone are a good footballing side.
‘But they play on a 3G pitch and they know how to play it – and no-one will ever convince me otherwise.
‘That’s made a difference in this game.
‘I am a bit of a traditionalist and would much rather play on a beach of a pitch like we did at Havant in midweek.
‘It is not an excuse but we have been sold down the river and it should never have been allowed.’
After an uninspiring opening half, the game sparked into life.
Rory Williams almost gave Borough the lead with a terrific 25-yard shot which rebounded back off the bar.
Justin Bennett, the division’s top scorer, headed the rebound straight at the goalkeeper.
However, it was Maidstone who made the all-important breakthrough in the 64th minute when Jamie Coyle headed in at a corner.
Borough, as they showed against the Hawks in midweek, had the character to bounce back.
Bennett fired over from a good position but in the 81st-minute David Jerrard saw his ball deflected in by home defender Bobby-Joe Taylor.
Borough looked as though they had done enough but then came the late drama which left them on their knees.
Pike is convinced the spirit in his squad will help them recover quickly.
‘There is a great collective feeling among this group of players,’ he said.
‘I have no doubt this can inspire them to go on another winning run.
‘It has gone now and we have to focus on the next game.
‘I have complete trust in my players and their ability to do that.
‘They will use this as motivation in moving forward to the next game.’
Gosport Borough: Ashmore, Cuthbertson, Williams, Carter, Poate (Brice, 19min), Robinson, Barker (Jerrard, 72min), Harding, Wort (Wilde, 90min), Bennett, Wooden. Att: 1,882