MANAGER Shaun Gale was left fuming after his Hawks side were reduced to nine men before half-time in their 2-0 defeat at Farnborough.
Wes Fogden and Mustafa Tiryaki were dismissed in a three-minute spell just before half-time, leaving the visitors with a mountain to climb.
Despite a brave rearguard action in the second half, Farnborough eventually made their numerical superiority count.
Even then, though, it took an own goal from Sam Pearce to set them on the way.
Gale was unhappy, both with the referee and the conduct of the home side.
‘The least I say about it the better because I would probably end up in trouble with the Football Association,’ said Gale.
‘I have never witnessed anything like it in my life.
‘There are some things that went on that shouldn’t be in football.
‘If they want to conduct themselves in that manner then that is up to them, but I don’t want anything to do with it.
‘Trying to get our players sent off from the first minute of the game is not on.
‘There were some poor things said and it started from the first minute.
‘It was unsavoury.
‘I thought both my players were desperately unlucky to get sent off.
‘It was a bitter pill because if we had kept 11 men on the pitch we would have won it comfortably.
The Hawks competed well in the opening 45 minutes, though goalkeeper Aaron Howe kept them on level terms with a fine full-length save to keep out Daryl McMahon’s curling 20-yard free-kick.
The half ended in explosive fashion, and when Fogden appeared to be pushed by Jay Conroy in the area, the visitors expected a penalty.
Instead, referee Mr Rock adjudged Fogden had dived and issued him with a second yellow card.
Tiryaki, having also been booked earlier, was walking a tightrope and soon followed Fogden to the changing rooms after the official took exception to another challenge.
Faced with an almost impossible situation, the nine-man Hawks manfully set about surviving after the break.
They did an admirable job getting players behind the ball and frustrating the home side.
It was one-way traffic but the visitors managed to keep Farnborough at bay until the 77th minute when Sam Pearce diverted a Gary Holloway shot into the roof of his own net.
The Hawks went for broke after that and were caught on the counter-attack at the death to concede a second goal.
‘The nine players we had out there in the second period did us proud and were a credit,’ said Gale.
‘They worked their socks off and made it difficult for them to break us down.’
Hawks: Howe 7; Newton 7, McDonald 7, Selley 8, Pearce 7 (Martin 81mins), Simpemba 8, Fogden 7, Hinshelwood 7, Sole 7 (Williams 74mins – 6), Tiryaki 6, Keehan 7.