Alnwick Town were knocked out of the E Armstrong Memorial Cup on Tuesday evening, with a 1-0 defeat against Norton and Stockton Ancients.
A Gary Mitchell penalty in the 20th minute settled the first-round contest.
Town boss Paul Yeadon believes the decision was harsh and was frustrated that it proved to be the game’s decisive moment .
He said: “The penalty was dubious and it is frustrating as it was the penalty which ended up winning the game for them.
“The ball was crossed over and one of their boys and two of ours challenged for the ball.
“The referee said the player was sandwiched, but our players didn’t understand why the penalty was given.”
Chances were in scant supply throughout the cup clash, although Town had opportunities late on to draw level, with Tony Brown and Danny Lowes going close.
Yeadon said: “It was a scrappy game, it was stop and start.
“There weren’t many chances.
“To be fair, they were a good team and played some canny football.
“We played at a consistent level and they began to tire, but we just couldn’t find the next gear to take it to them.”
For Town, the defeat was their seventh from eight matches in all competitions.
Yeadon believes his side can stop the rot, starting with a trip to Tow Law Town on Saturday. He said: “Over the last few weeks we have had players coming back which bolsters the squad.
“Also, over the last few weeks, we have played teams who will finish in the top-half, or even top seven, in the table.
“It is important that we beat the teams around us.
“I was disappointed with the result against Stokesley on Saturday, we just couldn’t get into the game.
“But we put a lot better performance in against Norton and Stockton Ancients and hopefully we can take that into the Tow Law game on Saturday.”
Alnwick Town (v Norton and Stockton Ancients): D Mullen, D Hills, T Macpherson, B Murray, D Lowes, T Truscott (K Collins), K Elliott, K Hogg, T Brown, J Lowes (A Makin), D Kennedy. Subs: R Straughan, A Kiddell, B Brooks.
Alnwick’s Northern League, Division Two game against Tow Law kicks off at 3pm.