Chris Hall’s season-ending injury left Harrogate Town boss Simon Weaver devastated after his side’s shock 1-0 cup final defeat to Eccleshill United.
Hall fell awkwardly after an aerial challenge just 10 minutes after coming on as a second-half substitute in the West Riding County Cup final at Bradford City’s Coral Windows Stadium.
He suffered suspected cruciate knee ligament damage in the innocuous fall.
The targetman was stretchered from the field, with help from his boss, after a lengthy stoppage in play.
Eccleshill then grabbed victory in controversial circumstance when Marcus Edwards scored a penalty in the tenth minute of injury time.
On Hall’s injury, Weaver said: “It is a big loss.
“We have already got four or five out and then that happens. He has been part of a successful team in the last few months. He’s made a physical impact on the team and scored goals.
“Especially at this time when you need your full strength team out, we are without him.
“But we have to go again. It was a blow for the lads on the pitch, it was a blow for us.
“It’s horrible for him. We don’t know the diagnosis but it didn’t look good.”
Town had been searching for their first piece of silverware in six years, but were left devastated at both Hall’s injury and the late penalty decision.
Hall is almost certain to miss Town’s last five matches this season, in which they need to win all five to put themselves in contention for a Skrill North play-off place.
Town were searching for their fist cup triumph in six years on Wednesday, having last won the County Cup in 2008 - beating Bradford Park Avenue 6-0 in the final.
But they put up a flat performance with Liam Hardy, Dom Rowe and Michael Woods all missing chances to put them in front.
Weaver brushed off the defeat saying the tournament had never been on his list of priorities this season.
He said: “It isn’t a disaster. It’s a disaster Hally getting injured.
“To be controversial, if you only get five complementaries (tickets) for your whole squad, it pretty much sums up the day.
“It’s a proper cup final. You want to invite family and friends and fill it a bit more than it was.
“You want to win any tournament and any training game. But it wasn’t on our list of priorities. What we didn’t want was any injuries in this cup run and I stand by that.
“It’s happened at the last hurdle.
“Last year we played half a youth team, we didn’t get any injuries. Maybe we should have done the same thing.”
Edwards’ late spot-kick came was awarded with the game heading for extra-time at 0-0.
The striker’s shot struck Town man Matt Heath on the arm inside the box, but Weaver insisted the defender could do little about it.
Weaver added: “It’s never been a penalty.
“It’s just a ridiculous decision.
“It’s a terrible way to finish a cup final, a horrible way.
“Both teams put every effort in, it’s going to go to extra-time. The linesman wasn’t having his greatest game and that summed it up.
“With Hally getting injured and a decision where I know the rules. We went to the Conference AGM and the referees showed us the rules with examples and examples.
“It has to be a purposeful movement to stop a shot going in. He never did that. It hit his elbow from close range, he never made a movement to stop it.
“He couldn’t have avoided it and the linesman has given a good ten seconds before he gave it.
“The referee had a good sight of it and he turned round and the linesman is flagging. I thought, here we go. This is ridiculous.”
Town are next in action against Leamington at home on Saturday, before travelling to Guiseley for the rearranged Yorkshire derby on Tuesday evening.