Hemel Hempstead Town manager Dean Brennan admitted he was ‘full of emotions’ following his side’s dramatic defeat to Eastbourne Borough in the FA Trophy on Saturday.
Hemel went in at half-time trailing 3-0, but fought back to briefly take the lead at 4-3 with 20 minutes to play, before eventually succumbing to a 7-4 defeat.
“We are full of emotions,” said Brennan after the game. “We are frustrated obviously because of the position we got ourselves in – it’s very frustrating to go out of the Trophy because it’s a great competition.”
Brannan felt Eastbourne’s impressive forwards eventually made the difference, but also believed that the referee could have produced red cards for two home players.
“It thought we were very good for the first 20 minutes but they scored three fantastic goals in the first half to be fair to them,” said the Tudors boss.
“They have some excellent forward players who were a handful all game, but I thought Oliver Hawkins was excellent for us as well and brought us back into the game by himself.
“I thought the referee missed a few key incidents – I’m not blaming him but I thought they could have had two straight red cards; one for a tackle on Kyle Connolly and one for a nudge on Jamie Slabber when he was through one-on-one.
“But as I said, you can’t blame the referee when you’ve conceded seven goals – you need the luck in the cup and we didn’t get that.”
It was a thrilling game for the spectators, with the wind playing a real part as Hemel pressed in the second half.
Brennan continued: “Credit to the lads for getting back into it at 4-3; we made a brave decision at half-time and went to a 3-3-4 formation – that’s one I admit I’ve never played before.
“Unfortunately a couple of individual errors let them back into it and that’s just the way it goes sometimes. We had a very young team out there today, and we are missing a lot of key players.”
The Hemel boss added: “It was euphoria at 4-3 up but I never thought we had won it because there was still 20 minutes to go. I thought there were more goals in the game.
“We had a great chance at 4-3 when Slabber put a header just wide of the post, and then they’ve gone straight up the other end and scored.
“All we can do now is dust ourselves off and move on to the next one.”