Bishop's Stortford look to put controversial FA Trophy defeat to Cheshunt behind them when they visit Bowers & Pitsea in Isthmian Premier
Steve Smith was devastated to see Bishop's Stortford's run in the Buildbase FA Trophy end in controversial circumstances at Cheshunt on Saturday.
The manager felt the Blues were by far the better team as the third-round tie ended goalless before the Ambers won 4-3 on penalties.
And the boss – who said it was not a case of "sour grapes" – said the club would be giving the referee the lowest score possible in the post-match paperwork in order to register their dissatisfaction with his performance.
Not only did they have what they thought were two clear-cut penalties not given – one for handball and one for a foul on Ryan Henshaw – they also had Mark Haines sent off for two yellow cards just before and after the shootout as well as being far from happy with a number of other decisions.
"I still haven't got over it – we were robbed," said Smith, whose side play Cheshunt again in the Pitching In Isthmian League, Premier Division at the R&D Advisors UK Stadium on New Year's Day.
"We were the better team and should have had two clear penalties – they weren't even debatable. It was an absolute joke.
"I'm gutted and the boys were devastated afterwards as they put a right shift in. We should have put the game to bed, but performance-wise it was spot on.
"I'm also gutted for the fans who went – we must have had about 200 there – as they were brilliant. It was just one of those days."
The Blues saw their 15-game unbeaten run come to an end – "I don't count penalties as a defeat, even though we're out of the Trophy," said the boss – but they remain 12 undefeated in the league ahead of their trip to Bowers & Pitsea on Monday (Dec 27).
Smith will hope to have Darren Foxley and Ryan Charles back after they missed the Trophy tie due to Covid.
"We'll go again on the 27th and then we've got Cheshunt at home on New Year's Day, which will be a feisty one I reckon," said Smith, whose team are fifth in the table.
"Promotion is the main thing and we've got to focus on that now."