Ashington FC manager Steve Harmison said the penalty decision awarded against his side proved pivotal as the Colliers bowed out of the Brooks Mileson Memorial League Cup against Guisborough on Wednesday night.
Striker Connor Smith scored a hat-trick for the Priorymen with Daniel McWilliams adding the other, whilst in reply Andrew Johnson bagged his 18th goal of the campaign.
However, Smith’s hat-trick goal came from the spot after keeper Conor Grant had been penalised for a foul on Smith.
Harmison said: “Conor has got a hand onto the ball and onto the forward’s foot and the award should have been a goal kick. The decision killed us.
“We got back to 1-1 then conceded again, but running down the hill we had momentum until the penalty incident happened.”
As for his wafer thin squad, Harmison added: “We were struggling to get 11 players. The Colliers have supplied three lads for us and Peter Beardsley at Newcastle United has done us a massive favour allowing us to sign Yannick Aziakonou and Jake Trodd.
“I thought the two young lads from Newcastle United U18s did fantastically well considering it was their debuts in the Northern League, and in Yannick’s case he wasn’t playing in his natural position.
“I thought Ryan Bell came in and did very, very well, but we were down to the bare bones of a squad.
“Nevertheless, the attitude was excellent and the work rate was very good.
“We conceded sloppy goals but we were more of an attacking team tonight.
“It’s disappointing but there were more positives from tonight than there has been over the past six weeks, and that might sound an odd thing to say because we have just lost 4-1.
“But the scoreline was unfair on us and the lads didn’t deserve that.
“Guisborough are a good side and they kept the ball well, but I thought we passed the ball well.
“In the first half I thought their keeper made a lot more saves than Conor [Grant] and at half time I’m thinking, ‘If we start the second half well, and can get the goal, we can have a go at one of the top teams in the league’.
“I have been critical with my summing up of games over the last three to four weeks, and rightly so, but I’m certainly not going to be critical of what I have seen from my side tonight.
“We had six players out through injury and another three cup tied.
“For Saturday’s trip to Shildon we will try to take with us what we have done well, but we still have to have a watch word to make sure we stop making these mistakes.
“We are playing good sides but we are not making the same mistakes, we are making different ones.
“If you make the same mistake you can rectify the situation, but with every one we are making we seem to being punished with a goal.”