Lee Bradbury bemoaned the ‘cruel’ luck which sent the Hawks spinning to a first Skrill South defeat of the season.
A wicked last-minute deflection handed a 2-1 victory to Tonbridge Angels at Westleigh Park on Saturday.
The game was heading for a draw when Ryan Watts fired in a speculative shot from outside the area.
Scott Bevan had it covered until the ball struck defender Ed Harris, totally wrongfooting the Hawks keeper.
It was a desperate end to the Hawks’ unbeaten start to the campaign – particularly after they recovered from a poor first half to dominate much of the second period.
Bradbury admitted his side had not been at their best but deserved a point.
‘A draw would have been a fair result but a cruel goal at the death has stuck the knife in us,’ said the boss.
‘It was a gutting way to lose but we were a little bit off song as far as our defending was concerned.
‘We looked vulnerable for the first time this season and you have to give Tonbridge a bit of credit for that.
‘Their big lad up front was a handful and they stretched our back-line.
‘Our defending was the most disappointing aspect for me.’
The Hawks’ proud record of not conceding a goal this season lasted just eight minutes.
Full-back Jake Newton allowed the dangerous Nathan Green to outpace him on the left before delivering a low ball across the six-yard area.
The cover was also lacking in the middle, allowing Luke Blewden to divert the ball past Bevan from close range.
The Hawks struggled for the rest of the half with Jesse Kewley-Graham and Steve Ramsey guilty of error-strewn performances in the midfield.
Eddie Hutchinson and Ramsey were replaced by Nic Ciardini and Perry Ryan at the break.
And the result was a far more competitive and physical presence in the centre of the park.
The hosts got the perfect start to the second half with Sahr Kabba equalising within two minutes of the restart.
Kabba worked himself a shooting position on the edge of the area and drilled a low shot into the far corner.
But Bradbury’s players were left gutted by the final twist.
And despite four minutes of added time, they could not retrieve the situation.
‘We must remain upbeat, have a good week of training and try to go and win at Bishop’s Stortford,’ said Bradbury.
‘That’s football for you and why you need character. It is how we react that is crucial.’
HAWKS: Bevan, Newton (Woodford, 88mins), Blanchett, Hutchinson (Ciardini, 45mins), Strugnell, Harris, Kewley-Graham, Oli, Kabba, Ramsey (Ryan, 45mins). Subs not used: Monteiro, Jones.