A woeful second-half performance sent the Hawks tumbling to a 2-1 Blue Square Bet South defeat at home to Bromley – and back into the relegation zone.
Manager Lee Bradbury was keen for his Westleigh Park side to build on their three-match unbeaten run and move further away from the bottom three.
There were signs that that may come to fruition when striker Ollie Palmer dragged the Hawks level after they fell behind against the run of play in the first half.
But instead of building on their momentum, the home side faded badly after the break and conceded again to the visitors – something that Bradbury found hard to take.
‘We dropped our standards a little bit and we made it very hard for ourselves,’ said Bradbury.
‘I was really pleased with the way we started and we could have been three goals up in the first 10 minutes.
‘It looked as though we were going to go from strength to strength.
‘But football has a habit of kicking you in the teeth just when you think you are getting things right.
‘Bromley came here to frustrate us and succeeded.
‘Once they scored it gave them a foothold in the game and boosted their confidence.
‘It knocked us back a little bit and for 20 minutes after that we weren’t ourselves.
‘We have to learn to deal with that because it is not always going to be rosy.’
The Hawks started on the front foot, with Steve Ramsey, Tony Taggart and Palmer all going close.
The home side were bossing proceedings but got hit by a sucker-punch in the 11th minute.
Elliott Buchanan found space on the left side of the area and his low ball across the face of goal was slid in by Joe Pigott at the far post.
The Hawks eventually recovered and equalised in the 23rd minute through a clinical piece of finishing from Palmer.
The striker latched on to Dan Butler’s long ball over the top and easily knocked the ball past the stranded goalkeeper.
‘We came back and got our goal but it was unfortunate that we didn’t turn up for the second half,’ said Bradbury.
‘Its frustrating because I know what the lads can do.’
The killer blow arrived on 67 minutes, with Bromley regaining the lead in almost identical circumstances to their first goal, with Pigott again scoring from close range.
The Hawks’ best chance to save the game was missed when Ryan Moss failed to make contact in front of an open goal.
‘We didn’t cause them too many problems and never really looked like getting back into it,’ said Bradbury.
‘There was a lack of creativity out there, and though the pitch didn’t help, it was the same for both teams.
‘This result is a major setback and we have to dust ourselves down and go again.
‘I am putting it down to a poor 45 minutes rather than the personnel being unable to do it.
‘We have been consistent in our last few games and I still believe in the players we have here at the present time.’
Hawks: Masters 7, Hinshelwood 6, Butler 7, Hutchinson 6 (Arthur 85m), Harris 7, Strugnell 6, Ramsey 6, Bailey 6, Palmer 7, Moss 6 (Kabba 75m), Taggart 6 (Nanetti 75m).