SORRY seemed to be the hardest word as boss Paul Collicutt decried a penalty award – in Evesham United's favour!

The Robins lost a frenetic Friday night battle at Bristol Manor Farm 2-1, a match that saw both teams play almost an hour with 10 men after a 33rd-minute skirmish that resulted in United’s Archie Haskayne and home defender John Lock being sent packing.

Owen Howe rifled home Manor Farm’s opener from an acute angle three minutes before half-time but Cory Simpson levelled matters with a clever lob from the edge of the box.

The game was end to end throughout but greater composure in the final third eventually told when Howe slotted the winner under Evesham keeper Andy Hannah with two minutes to play.

But all of that came after the flashpoint that had Collicutt’s blood boiling.

Referee Stacey Pearson pointed to the spot when Kye Simpson was upended by home keeper Ben John one-on-one just seven minutes in.

The ball ended up in the net within seconds but the spot-kick had already been given, John was booked and then relieved to see Steve Davies clip the top of the bar from 12 yards.

“I feel very strongly about the one where we went through, our lad has been pulled down but the ball ran loose and we finished it off,” said Collicutt.

“The referee pulled it back and gave a penalty. She got it wrong, she openly admitted that to me at half-time and apologised.

“The refereeing decision had a big input in the way it panned out. I am not saying we would have gone on to win but it would have been nice to have the benefit of a goal that should have stood.”

Asked whether the apology had been any comfort, Collicutt replied: “No, not at all.

“Okay, we’re all human and make mistakes but it is a bitter pill to swallow because I felt we deserved something out of the game.”

Haskayne, who is off to serve in the Army in a fortnight’s time, was dismissed for his wrestling match with centre-half Lock in the aftermath of being embroiled in a tangle with Jack Durrant.

Haskayne had already been awarded the free-kick but appeared to exchange swipes with Durrant when on the deck before Lock got involved.

It means Haskayne will now be suspended for what would have been his final two matches in red and white before relocating to Yorkshire for his Army training.

“It all flared up but I genuinely did not see a lot,” added Collicutt.

“The referee said their lad had hit Archie and then he reacted. When someone smacks you in the face, it is only human nature to fire one back and unfortunately, Archie did that.

“The referee said she could have sent off four, two from each side.

“There is a lot of disappointment and he is hurting because he didn’t want to finish on a sour note like that. He was playing well as well.

Put to him that incident had changed the game, Collicutt said: "I would not argue with that. We had to change things a little bit but still had enough chances to win.”

Collicutt added: “We missed the penalty, that’s life, but we went on to have most of the play for the rest of the first half without scoring and they got the goal.

“Their striker (Howe) did what he is good at and was the difference on the night, he hit it with a lot of power and it went through Andy (Hannah, keeper).

"Whether he could have done better I don’t know but the worst part about it was that being their first effort on goal.

“We played a team with a very healthy budget and good players. They will pick up more results along the way despite having dropped a few.

“As for us, we need to bounce back at Fleet next Saturday. We have a week to get it together and respond.

“There were plenty of plusses with how some of the players performed.”

Robins: Hannah, Hancock, Tunnicliff, Turley, Anson (Williams, 68), Wellon, Harding, Haskayne, Davies (Thomas, 61), K Simpson, C Simpson (Davidge, 80).

Unused subs: Tucker-Dixon, Humphreys. 

Attendance: 226.