Kettering Town’s makeshift side suffered heartbreak in the final minute as they were beaten 1-0 by Redditch United.
The Poppies’ first game for over a month due to financial problems was held at Corby Town’s Steel Park stadium with a healthy attendance of nearly 500 on hand.
And a spirited effort was produced by the young Kettering line-up as they missed a penalty in the first half before they finally had their hearts broken late in the day.
As expected, the Kettering line-up had a whole new look to it with Joel Gyasi, Will Muzvimbiri and Michael King being the only players in the squad who had already represented the club this season.
But, despite the makeshift side thrown together by manager Alan Doyle, the Poppies started the brighter with Troy Johnson sending an early effort just wide.
Redditch looked dangerous at times and some desperate defending was needed to stop Mark Hands from getting his shot off after he burst into the penalty area.
But Kettering missed a golden opportunity to open the scoring on 21 minutes when Muzvimbiri was floored by Asa Charlton’s challenge and referee Daniel Leach pointed to the spot.
Nathan Hicks took responsibility from 12 yards but his shot was well saved by James Wren in the Redditch goal.
Hicks had a shot saved by Wren soon after that miss as Kettering continued to more than hold their own but the visitors were awarded a penalty of their own two minutes into the second half.
Poppies captain Adam Mitter was adjudged to have fouled Jake Reid as they battled for a high ball. Connor Deards stepped up but Yannick Nlate dived to his right to push the penalty away.
Almost immediately, Kettering striker Solomon Akinshade forced Wren into a good save and the frontman had an even better chance when he raced clear on goal but a poor touch allowed the Redditch goalkeeper to gather.
The game began to open up and Deards lobbed over Nlate and the crossbar after going through on goal before King saw a header well saved by Wren at the other end.
From there, the game became scrappy and Redditch were again denied by Nlate who produced a fine stop to deny Stuart Hendrie after a good run.
As the game wore on, the visitors grew stronger and Reid shot over after being played in before Daniel Crowie almost put through his own net.
However, the young Poppies were unable to hold on. And in the final minute, Joshua Quaynor raced down the left and his perfect cross was headed home by Reid.
There was no time for Kettering to recover and Reid also shot just wide in stoppage-time as Redditch claimed the points.
Poppies: Nlate; Gyasi, Crowie, Mitter, Da Rosa; Khinda; Johnson, King, Hicks (sub Pryor, 87 mins); Muzvimbiri (sub Kotley, 73 mins), Akinshade. Subs not used: Beckley, Talbot, Singh-Gill.
Redditch: Wren; Moran, Flanagan, Richards, Charlton; Hendrie, Bridgwater (sub Oshungbure, 81 mins), Hands, Quaynor; Reid, Deards (sub Grandison, 64 mins). Subs not used: Catlow, Jenkins.
Referee: Daniel Leach.
Goal: Reid (90 mins, 0-1).
Bookings: Charlton, Deards, Mitter, Muzvimbiri (all fouls).