Steve Painter said he was left ‘mystified’ after being denied what Broadbridge Heath felt was a clear goal in their draw at Hassocks.
There was early controversy in the 1-1 Premier Division draw at The Beacon as a ten-man Heath were left aggrieved at the result.
Heath welcomed back Piers McDermott and Ollie Moore who missed the previous away trip to Worthing United and both players were involved in the first talking point after only three minutes.
Moore advanced towards the Hassocks goal before unleashing a right-foot shot from 30 yards that Hassocks keeper James Broadbent did well to push over the crossbar.
From the corner, McDermott crossed to the far post where Moore powered a header that Broadbent could only push into the roof of the net for what appeared to be the opening goal.
But with the Heath players celebrating, Broadbent gathered the ball and threw it out to a team-mate. Only then did people realise that the match referee had not blown his whistle and had allowed play to continue.
The Heath players and management were stunned by the decision but their appeals were ignored.
Heath finally took the lead on 16 minutes when Jake Holmes played a through ball into Tim Martin who drilled a low shot past Broadbent into the bottom right corner.
Minutes before the break Heath were reduced to 10 men when McDermott barged into a Hassocks player and the referee had little option but to show the midfielder a straight red.
The second half was very much a case of backs to the wall as Heath played with one up front and defended as if their lives depended on it.
Hassocks, with the extra man, had most of the possession but threatened the Heath goal. Their best chance came to Nathan Miles who headed a cross straight into the arms of Michael Chester.
It looked like Heath were going to hold on to win until deep into injury time when a Hassocks player took the ball to the goal line and cut it back to a team-mate who converted with a side foot from six yards.
Hours after the game, Painter said: “I’m still mystified why the referee had not allowed the goal, the ball was clearly pushed into the roof of the net by the goalkeeper, everyone could see it, even the linesman signalled for a goal, why didn’t the referee speak to his linesman?
“Although I can’t argue with McDermott’s red card, had the referee blown for the initial foul on Scott Weller, seconds earlier, then the incident with Piers would not have happened, Scott was clearly fouled and unable to continue in the second half.”
Heath: M.Chester, Holvey, Robinson, Howard, S.Chester, McDermott, Moore, Weller (Swaine 46), Holmes (Nash 80), Martin (Wright 75), Sultan.