The Hawks’ hopes of an FA Cup run were left in tatters as they suffered a thumping 7-0 third qualifying round defeat at Ebbsfleet United.
The tie turned into a nightmare for the visitors, who had defender Lee Molyneaux and manager Lee Bradbury sent off.
Ebbsfleet had already established a two-goal lead when Molyneaux was shown a straight red card at a corner shortly before the break.
Danny Kedwell converted the resulting penalty to leave the Hawks with a mountain to climb.
The home side then made their quality count in the second half by completing the demolition job with four further goals.
Bradbury was extremely unhappy with the way events panned out.
‘The Lee Molyneaux sending off was very strange,’ he said.
‘He just stumbled in our area and caught their lad in the face.
‘Lee said he tripped and there was nothing he could do about it. It was a complete accident.
‘At the time no-one knew what the penalty was awarded for and Ebbsfleet were just as bemused as we were.
‘All I did was approach the referee as he came off at half-time to ask him his view of it.
‘I was cool, calm and collected without being abusive in any way.
‘At the start of the second half the referee came over to our bench and said he hadn’t liked the way I had spoken to him and sent me off.
‘The referee wasn’t to blame for the result but it was atrocious.’
In an evenly-fought opening quarter, the Hawks went close when their former goalkeeper, Nathan Ashmore, tipped over a point-blank Ryan Woodford header.
The corner, however, resulted in the Kent side taking the lead.
Ebbsfleet launched a quick counter-attack which ended with Anthony Cook beating Ryan Young. The home side extended their lead on 38 minutes after Woodford was caught trying to play the ball out of defence.
‘We started the game well and it was pretty even up until they scored,’ said Bradbury.
‘After that we made a number of bad decisions, which put us on the back foot with too much to do.
‘The problem was we didn’t stay in the game long enough.
‘Once it got to 4-0 I thought we threw the towel in and that was disappointing. I have to put it down to a bad day at the office.’
Mark Phillips, Darren McQueen, former Hawks striker Bradley Bubb and Jack Powell were also on target for Ebbsfleet.
‘We must make sure we put this behind us as soon as possible,’ added Bradbury.
‘Luckily we have a league game tomorrow which hopefully will help us do just that.
‘My pride is hurt by such a heavy defeat and I am sure the players feel the same.’
Hawks: Young, Strugnell, Molyneaux Woodford, Williams, Robinson (Stock, 68min), Lewis, Swallow, Paterson (Rutherford, 62min), Prior, Barker (Harris, 44min). Att: 742