Leamington manager Paul Holleran said he hit rock-bottom at Stamford on Tuesday night as his side contrived to throw away an FA Cup trip to Midland League minnows Coleshill Town.
With the replay locked at 1-1, Brakes looked set to secure their place in the second round qualifying when they were awarded an 87th-minute penalty.
Lewis Carr received his marching orders for the challenge but Richard Taundry was unable to exact further punishment when his spot-kick was saved by Richard Knight.
Ten-man Stamford then went on to claim a dramatic injury-time winner through Greg Smith.
“In 15 years of doing this I can’t believe we can dominate a game like that and still lose against a very ordinary side,” said Holleran.
“The last five or six minutes must rank as my lowest at Leamington.
“We got in a situation with the penalty to wrap it up in front of our fans and then we throw it away.
“Nights like that are sent to test you and you have to go back to Stourbridge away three or four years ago to reproduce how I felt.
“To say I was shellshocked is an understatement.”
After producing two point-blank stops to prevent Brakes progressing in the initial tie, veteran keeper Knight was once again a key figure, with the penalty save one of a number of crucial interventions.
However, Holleran said Knight’s man-of-the-match performance should not mask his own side’s deficiencies in front of goal.
“There’s disbelief that we didn’t put the ball in the net.
“A couple of the saves were excellent but we haven’t been ruthless enough.”
Holleran denied Leamington had been naive in the closing stages to allow Stamford to score on the break, adding that it had come from “a diagonal ball we had dealt with all night”.
He did accept, though, that the defeat would crank up the pressure on the management team ahead of their return to league action at home to Weymouth tomorrow, but said it came with the territory.
“The players were distraught but you’ve got to try and use it as a platform.
“When you go out of the FA Cup early, unless you’re league form is where it needs to be, it puts you under pressure.
“Staying in the cup in a nice adventure.
“So there will be the usual palaver that comes with [a cup exit] but I can deal with that.
“While I’m here I just want us to be a decent side and give the supporters something to cheer.
“They travelled in good numbers again on Tuesday night and they deserved better than that.”
Following last week’s postponement of Leamington’s FA Youth Cup clash against Stourbridge, the tie has now been rescheduled for the Phillips 66 Community Stadium on Monday (7.30pm).