Chelmsford City Reserves Manager Marc Stephan aired his disappointment in multiple factors following the 3-1 defeat against Stanway Pegasus.
On Wednesday, the City side welcomed the Peg to Scraley Road for a top of the table clash in the Essex & Suffolk Border League Premier Division.
Following a closely fought, goalless first half, the Clarets took the lead through an Evan Payne header nine minutes on from the restart.
From the goal onwards, the game turned into a heated and feisty affair which saw Adam Morgan sent off and the visitors complete a turnaround to claim three points.
Stanway first drew level through an impressive Josh Dillon finish before two penalties converted by Max Booth completed the scoring.
After the game, Stephan commented: “In the first half we were the better team, nine minutes into the second half we scored our goal and then they did exactly what we thought they would because we have been watching them quite a lot this season.
“Our boys bit into what we told them not to; we lost our shape. Stanway became more attacking and they had plenty going forwards, but they were screaming, they were pushing, they were kicking. They were doing it all and we got sucked into it.
“I’m disappointed with the boys but I can’t fault them, everyone had duties tonight and 10 players did their duties.”
In the period after the Clarets went a goal up, a closely contested game turned into a heated one, culminating in Morgan being sent off for an altercation during the celebration of Stanway’s second goal.
The remainder of the game was epitomised by a couple of heavy challenges from the visitors, both of which received yellow cards.
In second-half added time, Alfie Gilbey had to be replaced after limping off the field following an abrasive challenge between the midfielder and a Stanway player – which the Frenchman felt was a result of the play which had preceded it.
He explained: “The officiating tonight made the game difficult and the last challenge tonight between Alfie and their player, there was nothing wrong with it but perhaps if the game had been calmed down a little bit more it wouldn’t have got to that point.
“It’s frustrating when the linesman on our side agreed with us and disagreed with the decision-making, but he is so far away from play, the referee is the person who will make the call.
“It’s a tough one because I can’t fault the players playing-wise on all of the instruction and the playing style until we scored our goal and the reaction from Stanway – that’s why we lost.
“That’s the psychological side of it that we need to get stronger on.”
The defeat now sees the Reserves trail Wednesday night’s opponents by six points with Stanway also having two games in hand.
“In my opinion, they are going to win the league,” Stephan said. “Unless they have several injuries, they might lose a game, but they will win the league – no doubt.”
“So, for us the hope is to finish 2nd – that is the target – and maybe hope that two can go up this season.”