Manager Ricky Marheineke was left to reflect on two major mistakes as St Ives Town’s struggles continued last Saturday.
One of those came from his senior players and the other from the referee during a 2-1 defeat at Kings Langley in the Southern League Premier Division.
Only goal difference now keeps Saints out of the relegation zone after a difficult opening quarter of their debut season at Step 3 level.
And this was arguably the most frustrating of their seven losses to date as Marheineke’s men dominated for long periods against a home side they followed up from Division One (Central) last term.
But they paid the price for a late howler from their captain, Charlie De’Ath, which proved decisive on an afternoon in which Saints had goalkeeper Tim Trebes harshly dismissed.
Saints fell behind in the opening minute of the second before Josh Dawkin was denied a quick reply by the underside of the bar.
But they did level courtesy of a milestone moment for local lad Ben Seymour-Shove, who marked his 100th appearance for the club with a 64th minute strike.
Seymour-Shove played up front in a remodelled St Ives side which included new recruit Mark Coulson, who signed from Premier Division rivals Biggleswade late last week, on the left flank.
But the tactical tweaks couldn’t provide a change of fortune as Saints were reduced to 10 men with 20 minutes to go when Trebes saw red after referee Gareth Viccars deemed him to be the guilty party in a heavy collision with home forward Immanuelson Duku.
Defender Lee Chaffey donned the gloves and was not required to make a save of any note until stoppage time, but seconds later he was beaten as a calamitous mis-kick from captain De’Ath gifted Kings Langley substitute Joe Gallagher a winning goal.
Marheineke said: “We were the better side in the first half when we created the better chances as well.
“We conceded a sloppy goal as we have done far too many times this season and people continue to fail to take responsibility for things like that.
“I wasn’t too concerned as we were still on top and finally got the goal we deserved. I thought we would go on to win the game, but then the referee has absolutely killed us.
“We should have had a throw in the first place as the assistant indicated only for the referee to over-rule. Then the Kings Langley player was at least a yard offside before him and Tim collided.
“It was probably a free kick and it may have been a yellow card, but it was an absolutely ridiculous decision to send him off for that.
“And then again we have paid the price for another very poor individual mistake. Charlie completely mis-kicked the ball and it is an absolute sickener.
“If we continue to make basic errors, we are going to be in a relegation battle.
“I feel we are a good side, but we only have 11 points from 12 games and that shows we are going to be in a dogfight.”
Saints have picked up only one point from a possible 18 in their last five league games. Therefore a change of competition is probably welcome tonight when they entertain King’s Lynn in the opening round of the Southern League Challenge Cup at ProEdge Westwood Road, 7.45pm.
They then have two Premier Division clashes in the coming days – hosting Frome this Saturday before travelling to Hayes & Yeading on Tuesday.