Ronnie Moore said he had nothing but praise for Hartlepool United’s players after seeing his side beaten by a late, late goal at Exeter City.
Pools looked destined for a goalless against the high-flying Grecians only for defender Christian Ribeiro score the winner one minute, 46 seconds into stoppage time.
It was a cruel ending for Pools who should have claimed at least a point at St James Park.
Pools had the best of the chances in Devon, Rhys Oates scooping over the bar from close range early in the second half after being teed up by Rakish Bingham.
But it was Bingham who had the best opportunity 20 minutes from time when he failed from the penalty spot.
Skipper for the day, Nicky Featherstone, was tripped by Exeter skipper Matt Oakley, but Bingham’s tame spot-kick was saved low down to his left by keeper Bobby Olejnik.
“Football’s cruel isn’t it?” shrugged Moore. “They had a couple of little half-chances, but we’ve had the best chances of the game.
“I felt a little hard-done-by at 0-0, but to then lose? I’m disappointed to see the least.
“It’s so disappointing, if anything, we deserved to win the match.
“Each and every player has given it everything. I can’t complain to the players.
“I’m disappointed but I can’t criticise them.”
There was frustration over Bingham’s penalty, the striker taking over the spot kick duties in the absence of the injured Billy Paynter.
“It wasn’t the best penalty in the world, you need to smack them,” Moore added,
Exeter City: Olejnik, Ribeiro, Tillson, Brown, McAllister, Nicholls (Holmes 66), Oakley (Grant 74), Noble, Harley, Wheeler, Nichols (Morrison 61). Unused subs: Pym, Woodman, Oyeleke, McCready
Goal: Ribeiro 90
Pools: Bartlett, Halliday, Harrison, Boyce, Jones, Bates, Featherstone (capt), Woods, Oates, Bingham (Fenwick 78), Carroll. Unused Subs: Denton, Worley, Walker, Hawkins, Smith, Oyenuga
Booked: Woods 63
Referee: Andy Woolmer
Attendance: 3,135 (Pools 72)