Thomas Baillie conceded Kettering Town lost their way somewhat as they slipped to a shock 3-1 defeat at Northwood.
The Poppies missed the chance to move eight points clear at the top of the Evo-Stik Southern League Division One Central as a disappointing second half proved costly.
Having fallen behind early on, Kettering levelled things up through Dubi Ogbonna.
But they fell 2-1 behind after the break and never recovered as Northwood added a third late on to send the Poppies to their fifth league defeat of the season.
Baillie was furious with the performance of the referee as Ogbonna had another effort ruled out for offside while David Kolodynski was booked for diving after he appeared to be brought down in the penalty area.
But the Poppies’ joint-boss admitted his team didn’t react well to Northwood’s second goal.
“We dominated the game in the first half, they scored but when we got it back to 1-1 we really pushed on,” Baillie said.
“David Kolodynski was brought down in the area and the referee booked him for diving.
“And later on Dubi has had a goal ruled out for offside, even though he clearly wasn’t.
“To be honest, the referee was a bit embarrassing and I’m not sure how they managed to keep 11 players on the pitch.
“We felt we could go on and win the game but they scored an excellent second goal and, as we chased the game, we lost our shape and discipline.
“When we were 2-1 down, we weren’t good enough and that was disappointing because I always felt we could get something from the game.
“We still had a number of chances but we didn’t take them and it has cost us.”
The Poppies’ cause wasn’t helped with in-form striker Elliot Sandy unable to travel due to him being unwell, although Baillie is hoping the frontman will be fit in time for next weekend’s local derby at Daventry Town.
“Hopefully Elliot will be better by then,” Baillie added.
“He is a big player for us and you will always miss players of his calibre.”
Baillie, meanwhile, confirmed striker Josh Moreman’s loan spell at Stamford has been extended for another month, although the Poppies do have a 24-hour recall clause in the deal on the frontman, who was sent off in the Daniels’ 2-0 defeat at Workington at the weekend.
In other player news, it was also revealed before Saturday’s game that goalkeeper Jamie McAlindon has turned down an approach from Bedford Town.
McAlindon has now dual-registered with Burton Park Wanderers in a bid to get games as he continues his recovery from a groin injury.