New Harrogate Railway boss left to rue what might have been after disallowed 'goal'
Mick O'Connell felt that he should have been celebrating three points after his first game in charge of Harrogate Railway.
Instead, the Starbeck strugglers once again finished up empty-handed as a late goal condemned them to a 2-1 home loss to Parkgate at Station View.
Dan McDaid twice beat the visiting goalkeeper with stunning long-range efforts in the first half, but only one of those strikes counted, and the Steelmen were able to turn the game on its head after the interval.
"I look at it as three points dropped," reflected O'Connell, who took over as manager from Des Macorison at the end of January.
"We were the better team in possession, and without the ball we looked very organised. Apart from a 10-minute spell early in the second half, I thought we played well.
"Dan McDaid has smashed one in off the cross-bar that's bounced a good four yards over the goal-line, but the linesman hasn't given it.
"Their number nine has then gone over in the box when our keeper has come out, but he is on his way down before there is any contact. At 1-1 we've missed an open goal.
"If those moments go our way, then it's a completely different game and I think we get the result that our play deserved."
The performance of the match officials ultimately impacted significantly on the outcome of the match, and O'Connell admitted that he was left frustrated by what he saw.
"The decision for the penalty, you can see why the referee has given it, though it is still a hard one to take," he added.
"Our goalkeeper has to come out, but their player is going down before there is any contact.
"I can't for the life of me see how Dan's first strike wasn't given. It was so far over the line, it was obvious. I don't know how the linesman can't see it.
"What makes it worse is that the referee said he thought it was a goal, but his linesman said the ball handn't crossed the line. Then, when I spoke to him at half-time, the linesman told me that he couldn't see from where he was.
"It's really frustrating."
Despite the frustration of seeing his first effort not given, the returning McDaid picked out the top corner of the Parkgate net a minute before half-time to break the deadlock.
Parity was restored four minutes after the break when the Steelmen were awarded a penalty. Although Jack Rushworth kept out the inital effort, Simon Harrison followed up to stick away the rebound.
Paddy Sykes spurned a glorious opportunity to re-establish the Rail lead when he missed his kick with the goal gaping, and this was to prove costly.
With O'Connor's men pushing on in search of a much-needed victory, they were then hit with an 84th-minute sucker punch as Zak Khalifa fired in to put the visitors 2-1 up.
The result leaves Railway 10 points adrift of safety in the NCEL Division One standings.