Lee Bradbury vented his frustration after a controversial refereeing decision proved pivotal in the Hawks’ 1-0 Vanarama Conference South loss at Sutton United.
With the scores goalless in the early exchanges, the visiting boss watched on in horror as striker Bradley Bubb was fouled outside the area by home keeper Tom Lovelock, who received a yellow card from John O’Brien instead of the red demanded by Bradbury.
Sutton capitalised to net the game’s only goal 10 minutes before the break through substitute Jessy Reindorf.
‘Their goalkeeper, who was man of the match, shouldn’t have been on the pitch,’ said an aggrieved Bradbury.
‘In the first half, Bradley Bubb knocked the ball around him and the keeper wiped him out.
‘It was a clear goalscoring opportunity, but he only received a yellow card.’
The visitors made one change to their starting line-up following their opening-day 3-1 defeat to Bromley.
Bradbury decided to go with three strikers, replacing Nic Ciardini with JJ Hooper.
Marvin Williams caused an early scare with a burst past Ed Harris to the byline but Ryan Young saved at his near post.
The Hawks broke out on 16 minutes, though, when Bubb broke free, only to be obstructed outside the area by home goalkeeper Lovelock.
The keeper was only booked, though, and then saved well from Shamir Mullings after he was cleverly played in by Scott Donnelly.
On 34 minutes, Sutton sent on substitute Reindorf – and with his first touch the big striker put the hosts ahead.
When a cross was drifted in from the left, Reindorf rose unmarked to glide his header past the despairing dive of Young into the bottom corner.
The visitors were lucky not to fall further behind on the stroke of half-time when Jamie Taylor poked the ball wide with just Young to beat.
Craig Dundas then had a glorious chance in the opening minutes of the second period, when Wellard’s header picked him out six yards from goal.
Under pressure from Young, however, the striker failed to make any clean contact and the ball rolled harmlessly behind.
The Hawks were struggling to get a foothold in the game and Ryan Woodford’s header over the top from a free-kick was a rare chance.
On the hour mark, Bradbury decided a change was needed and sent on Brian Dutton for Donnelly.
Five minutes later Mullings was guilty of missing an open goal from Bubb’s low cross.
Suddenly the game erupted inside the Sutton area, with both teams squaring up to each other.
Surprisingly, when the dust had settled, the referee restarted the game as if nothing had happened.
The Hawks improved in the latter stages to take charge.
They pinned Sutton back but were denied an equaliser by Lovelock, who pulled off five terrific saves.
Bradbury added: ‘We have to be a lot braver with the ball when the game is still goalless.
‘In the second half we were more effective and were the stronger team.
‘Our work-rate and endeavour was there to be seen.’
Hawks: Young, Huggins, Cummings, Woodford, Strugnell, Harris, Ryan, Donnelly, Hooper, Bubb, Mullings. Subs: Dutton, Blanchett, Ciardini, Wedlake, Swallow