INEPT Gosport Borough relied on a controversial penalty – converted by Liam Sewell – to salvage a 1-1 draw with lowly Bridgwater Town at Privett Park.
The result is a major hiccup as Borough chase a place in the Southern League south & west division play-offs.
Manager Alex Pike did not pull any punches after the dire showing, criticising his underperforming players for allowing Bridgwater the freedom of Privett Park for long periods of the game.
And despite being forced to make several changes to his side due to injury and illness, Pike was not hiding his displeasure.
‘No excuses,’ said Pike.
‘Yes, we were without Dave Birmingham and Dean Arnold at the back but I have a large squad of quality players and once again they let themselves, the club and the supporters down with a very shabby display.
‘We made Bridgwater look good when they should have been out of contention on the chances we created and just about managed to get a point.
‘But a point wasn’t enough. We lost at Bishop’s Cleeve last week and desperately needed three to keep up our challenge for a play-off spot.’
The little Borough did create, they wasted in the first half.
The only positive for the hosts was a superb header from Pat Cox that thumped the crossbar.
At the other end, Bridgwater were gifted a goal on 35 minutes when keeper Nick Hutchings failed to deal with the ball and Carl Jones fired home.
Early in the second half Jones went close to doubling the advantage before Borough were given a lifeline.
Referee Lavelle decided Bridgwater defender Matt Townley had handled in the box and awarded a penalty, leaving youngster Sewell – on loan from the Hawks – to equalise.
The lively Sewell was a shining light for Borough and thoroughly deserved his man-of-the-match award, which he picked up ahead of Alex Ward, who was also an impressive performer.
In the closing stages Sewell went close to grabbing a winner for Borough, as did Jones for Bridgwater after he burst clear only to fire at Borough keeper Hutchings.
Pike added: ‘Good performances usually bring match-winning results and unless we improve and start to get points on the board, we could miss out, though there is still some way to go this season.
‘The Portsmouth Senior Cup defeat at Horndean in midweek wasn’t exactly a confidence booster.
‘We need to get back to basics and see where it takes us.
‘I will be expecting a much-improved display from the side when they play Winchester City here in the Russell-Cotes Cup on Thursday.’