Lee Bradbury endured a miserable afternoon as the Hawks crashed to a 3-1 loss against promotion rivals Needham Market in their Ryman League premier division clash at Westleigh Park.
The manager’s misery was complete when he was sent to the stands in the second half following an unfortunate incident with visiting captain Kemal Izzet.
A disastrous defensive display in the first half left the Hawks trailing by three goals.
The hosts never looked like pulling it back and all they could manage was a late consolation from substitute Matt Paterson.
Bradbury was left stunned by the Hawks defending.
The Hawks boss said: ‘I didn’t see that coming.
‘We came into the game with the best defensive record in the league and on the back of three successive clean sheets.
‘Our defending in the first half was a complete shambles.
‘A number of players had an off-day and it is frustrating.
‘At least two of their goals came from poor defending and individual errors.
‘We let balls bounce and were not getting there quick enough.
‘Once again we had the majority of the possession and created the most opportunities.
‘You have to give Needham Market credit because they hit us with sucker-punches on the counter-attack.
‘But we have to be a lot better than this if we are to sustain a promotion challenge.’
The scoreline could easily have been 5-3 to the visitors at the break after a plethora of goalmouth action.
Alfie Rutherford and Jason Prior were guilty of missing great chances inside the opening five minutes.
And it proved costly with the Suffolk visitors taking a fifth-minute lead.
A poor Ed Harris header let Reece Dobson in for the first and 13 minutes later equally sluggish defending saw Luke Ingram extend the lead.
Worse was still to come five minutes before the break when another dreadful mix-up gifted Callum Harrison a third goal.
In the second half, Bradbury was sent to the stands.
He added: ‘I was disappointed with my dismissal as I just went on to the pitch to quickly get the ball back for our free-kick.
‘Unfortunately Izzet pushed the ball past me and I caught him instead.
‘There was certainly no intent on my part.’
Paterson pulled a goal back three minutes from the end but by then the Hawks were well beaten.
The Westleigh Park outfit, who sit in third place, are now five points behind leaders Bognor.
But they have failed beat any of their top-seven rivals in five attempts.
Hawks: Young, Molyneaux, Woodford, Harris, Williams, Tarbuck, Stock, Carter (Paterson, 46min), Lewis, Prior, Rutherford (Hayter, 79min). Attendance: 850