Brackley Town manager Jon Brady was left fuming at the officials after his side were denied a famous victory over Gillingham in the FA Cup.
Saints were on course for a huge upset when Joe Martin’s own goal midway through the second half deservedly put Brackley ahead, and it appeared they would hold on before Bradley Dack fired home in the 97th minute to earn Gillingham a replay.
Brady praised his players after the final whistle but also vented his anger at the referee after he failed to penalise John Mousinho for what looked a clear foul on Nat Jarvis when the young striker was clean through on goal four minutes into stoppage time.
Brady said: “I’m heartbroken, but I’m deeply disappointed with the officials. I don’t want to moan but everyone in the stadium could see that, when Nat Jarvis went through, it was a foul and a red card and how he doesn’t give it I don’t know.
“Absolutely everyone in the stadium can see that was a red card – and then the six or seven minutes of extra-time? It was disappointing because today they had two shots on target and we had eight or nine good chances.
“We’ve given absolutely everything and we’ve deserved that today but, because the official made a bad mistake, they’ve cost us.”
Despite the late drama, Brady was bursting with pride after seeing his side dominate a team three leagues and 55 places above them.
Saints created several clear-cut opportunities, with Steve Diggin, Glenn Walker and Steve Towers all going close before Martin put the ball into his own net from Gary Mulligan’s cross.
Brady added: “We’re the ones disappointed, not the League One club, so we have to dust ourselves down and go again.
“We played some great football. Peter Taylor has come in and tried to get them to play but, at times, we’ve dominated and had good chances.
“It was a nine out of ten performance from every single player, and that’s what we said before the game. We need everyone to be at it – no one can let us down. I’m extremely proud of them and I feel their hurt and their pain but that hurt and pain has to drive us on.
“Part of me’s deflated, part of me’s upbeat, it feels like a kick in the teeth but we need to pick ourselves up because we have a very important league game next Saturday.”
Looking ahead to the replay a week on Tuesday, Brady believes his players can repeat the performance and this time beat Gillingham, adding: “Of course we can. I believe, I told the players to believe, everyone has to be at full tilt and on top of their game. They need to throw in some poor performances on top of that.
“They’re a team low on confidence at the moment, they’re in transition with a new manager, but you expect him to bounce back and change things, so I’ll see how good I am and put myself against him again next Tuesday.
“We have to dust ourselves down and be mentally strong now. We’ll see how mentally strong they are when they come to St James Park.
“To hear our Brackley Town fans louder than the home support the whole game – they drove us on. We’ll need them at home in the replay.”