John Ramshaw admitted conceding “soft goals” proved costly for Kettering Town once again as their slim play-off hopes were left in tatters after a 2-1 defeat to Chesham United at Latimer Park.
The Poppies never recovered after conceding two goals in as many first-half minutes as Phil Roberts and Sam Youngs struck to give Chesham what would prove to be a decisive advantage.
Rene Howe pulled a goal back in the second half but Kettering were unable to find another before, to rub salt into the wounds, they had goalkeeper Paul White sent-off in stoppage-time for a foul on Ryan Blake.
The defeat has left the Poppies 11 points adrift of the Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division play-offs with just 10 games to go.
And assistant-manager Ramshaw was left bitterly disappointed by the goal his team conceded.
“We didn’t start very brightly and 14 minutes into the game we are two goals down and you have got a mountain to climb against a good side,” he said.
“I thought the team were magnificent in the second half and we couldn’t have asked any more of them but we were chasing the game.
“They were two schoolboy goals we conceded. We switched off for the corner and got caught and the second one came through us being naive.
“The silly goals killed us. It has been a key factor of our season that we have given away soft goals consistently and it is what has cost us.
“The reason we are where we are is because of the soft goals we have conceded over the course of the season, that’s it in a nutshell.”
Ramshaw, meanwhile, was far from impressed by the performance of referee Mark Howes.
He awarded Chesham a controversial penalty in the first half, which was saved by Paul White, but then waved away claims from the Poppies after James Brighton appeared to be brought down while a number of big shouts for handball in the area also left the official unmoved.
And Ramshaw added: “When their bench turns to our’s and says ‘if he gave our one, he’s got to give that one’ then I think that is fairly indicative of what everyone in the ground, apart from the man who matters, thought.
“I have to be careful what I say but suffice to say it is probably one of the poorest referee performances that I have witnessed.”