Marcus Law felt circumstances went against Kettering Town as their return to action ended in a 3-2 defeat at Weymouth.
It proved to be an eventful afternoon on the south coast with the Poppies going 1-0 down early on before goalkeeper Paul Walker was forced off after a nasty clash of heads with George Rigg.
With no substitute goalkeeper on the bench, skipper Brett Solkhon took over between the sticks but the Poppies hit back to lead 2-1 thanks to headers from Dominic Langdon and Liam Canavan.
However, after Rene Howe had hit the crossbar, Weymouth struck twice in the final 20 minutes to seal the points and maintain their promotion challenge in the Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division.
It all left Law in a reflective mood as his team finally got back on the pitch after a three-week break.
And he defended his decision to not have another goalkeeper in the 16 while also heaping praise on his players for their efforts.
“There were two areas for concern after not playing for three weeks and those were the first 20 minutes and the last 20 minutes,” the Poppies boss said.
“It was clear it would take time for us to settle back in and then, when it came to last period of the game, the fitness levels would alway be a worry.
“Unfortunately, their first goal came from a mis-timed header and their lad was able to nip in.
“We then had a 15-minute period where we were able to calm the game down a bit, which had been the initial plan.
“But then we have lost our goalkeeper. Paul has come out to head one clear and he has collided with the centre-forward.
“It forced us into a change of personnel and shape but, clearly, we weren’t planning on having Brett in goal.
“It’s one of those things. I’d say I had gone through maybe 150 games without having to change the goalkeeper in a match since the last time it happened.
“Circumstances worked against us. I like to have plenty of options on the bench.
“But I have to give our players credit because they minimised the number of shots on goal after Brett had gone in there to three, unfortunately two of them were good enough to beat him.
“But I don’t think it can be put down to the goalkeeper. We need to look at why the opportunities came about.
“For the middle 40 minutes I thought we were brilliant.
“We changed the shape and we scored two quick goals which hurt them.
“And for 20 minutes of the second half, I thought we looked comfortable.
“The big moment was when we hit the bar with Rene Howe’s header. If that goes in then I think we go on to win the game. If is a massive word, of course, but that was a key moment.”
Law confirmed Walker required eight stitches in what he described as “a deep wound”.
The defeat leaves the Poppies six points off the play-off places ahead of next weekend’s trip to seventh-placed Hungerford Town.