Horsham manager Dominic Di Paola praised a season-best showing but said Hastings United benefited from their own time wasting to net a injury-time equaliser on Tuesday night.
A 88th-minute goal from Joe Shelley – his second of the evening – looked as though it had handed the Hornets all three points at The Pilot Field after they fought back from 2-0 down to lead 3-2.
But there was to be late heartbreak as Rhys Whyborne popped up with a 95th-minute leveller to deny Horsham a deserved three points in the Bostik League South Division.
The late strike particularly riled Di Paola as he said that from when Sam Adams doubled the U’s lead on 55 minutes, adding to Kenny Pogue’s 18th-minute headed goal, the home side were wasting time ‘beyond belief’.
That stepped up when George Landais halved the deficit with a free-kick before the hour only for Shelley to level on 78 minutes and put Horsham added with two minutes to play.
Di Paola, who was returning to face his former side, said: “I thought it was probably the best we have played all season. We played some really nice football and played with confidence.
“I thought we were the better team and I do not think anyone would argue that we were not deserving of all three points – and I have not said that very often!
“The boys were brilliant and some of the football we played was excellent. It was a performance I was really proud to be involved with.
“I am feeling frustrated though and I am digging out the referee. From the moment they went 2-0 up they were time wasting beyond belief.
“That time wasting actually allowed them to get a point. All the time added on was time they had wasted, where is the logic in that?
“It’s a double bonus. If they are time wasting and see they game out they win 2-0. Then we have battled back to go ahead and he’s then played the six minutes which has allowed them to get back into it – I do not know where the ref got six minutes from as he told us it was four - it’s infuriating.”
Horsham would have taken a point before the game against an in-form Hastings side. After a tricky September, The U’s had won their last three, scored four and not conceded in October.
Di Paola added: “We were missing Scott Kirkwood as he was stuck in traffic and had to play a centre-forward and winger in central midfield. I like to see nice football and it was nice to play some.”
Horsham: Fernandes, Duncan, Shelley, Farmer, Metcalf, Boswell (Hartley), Harris, MacDevitt, Street (Robinson 57), Landais, Thurgar. Unused: Waller, Nezval.