Horsham head coach Nick Stocker felt margin calls did not go his side’s way in their narrow defeat to higher-placed Dartfordians.
The spoils have been evenly shared over the last couple of seasons between the old foes and the result remained in doubt until the final whistle.
That result saw the Green and Whites remain fourth after losing what was another epic encounter with fellow promoted side Dartfordians, who stay third.
Stocker felt a number of decisions ended up costing his side victory as he admitted he could not fault his players.
He said: “I am disappointed to have lost. We have had some good games with Dartfordians and today was no different. It was a close match decided by fine margins.
“For example when Paul Talbot ran a dummy line when Jonny Whiting was carrying he was adjudged to have crossed, and when we were attacking at the end their player was never going to catch the ball when he flung out one hand. That was a definite yellow card and a turning point.
“Similarly a tip tackle by their player should have been a red card whereas Will Johnson got a yellow card for muddying the ball.
“I feel aggrieved by a couple of the decisions and you just hope that they do not influence the result which perhaps they did.
“Both sides gave away few penalties in kickable positions and they shaded the scrum, especially in the last 30 minutes.
“I can’t fault the endeavour of our players. We are two evenly matched teams but we just lacked a little composure in try scoring areas.
Dartfordians centre Connor Sutherland made a good break and when the visitors spun the ball wide, it required a double tackle from Will Bell and Will Johnson to send the opposition winger into touch.
Horsham came back and after good phase play resulted in the award of a penalty which Bell kicked for a 3-0 lead after 11 minutes.
Dartfordians lost flanker Si Briggs to the sin bin for entering the breakdown at the side and prevent the try scoring opportunity, but despite being a man short, they upped their game.
Fly-half Mike Briggs stepped his man and made a break to open up the Green and White defence, but minutes later he sent a kickable penalty wide of the posts which would have levelled the scores.
Dartfordians remained in the ascendancy and after going through several phases flanker Alfie Collins forced himself over the line from close range.
Again what looked a simple kick was missed and Dartfordians lead 5-3.
Following some direct Green and Whites running and good phase play, Mike Watts was stopped just short of the line but in the next movement captain Paul Talbot stormed over the line.
Johnson for Horsham was stupidly yellow carded for throwing the ball in a puddle and Dartfordians took advantage with strong runs from Brencher and Jake Taylor who was tackled into touch just short of the try line and Horsham went into the break with a narrow 8-5 lead.
Dartfordians centre Tom Tuley was then yellow carded for a spear tackle on Bell but the visitors made light of being a man down.
On 70 minutes, with the half having been scoreless so far, Dartfordians conjured up a moment of brilliance. Briggs drifted right and then made a lovely inside pass into the gap he had created for blind side wing Brencher to storm through untouched to score from 25 yards under the posts.
Briggs converted the try for Dartfordians to take a 12-8 lead.
Horsham attacked incessantly throughout the last ten minutes but the Dartfordians defence held firm.
When Ollie Harcus spun wide, a Dartfordians player went for a one-handed catch and knocked on which if adjudged deliberate would have resulted in a yellow card as it was a try scoring opportunity.
Horsham’s pressure saw the award of a succession of penalties but the deficit meant that they declined kicks at goal as they sought the winning try.
The referee’s patience ran out from the repeated infringements when Dartfordians incurred their third yellow card of the match as hooker Sam Cooksley went into the sin bin, but Horsham ran out of time.
Stocker added: “We didn’t get our big runners over the gain line running from depth enough and as a result much of our back play was too lateral.
“We were also guilty with our tactical kicking of going straight down the throat of their back three.”
Horsham’s next fixture is away to Thanet Wanderers, on Saturday.
Horsham: W.Bell, W.Johnson, Watts, Ordidge, Wilde, J.Johnson, Mills, Talbot, Grantham-Hill, Brady (Fairs), Harcus (McCabe), Whiting, Smith, Gray, M.Tredgett (N.Bell).
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