David Moon said a 1-0 defeat to Radford on Tuesday night was a tough one to swallow for Belper United.
The Green Army looked to be heading towards a point at home to third-placed Radford before the visitors snatched it late on.
It was all that separated the two sides on a night of few chances for either team in East Midlands Counties Premier action.
United boss Moon said: “It’s a hard one to take tonight especially with conceding so late on.
“Both teams never created any significant chances and on balance was heading for a goalless draw.
“We are all disappointed because the lads gave us everything and I can’t fault their efforts and commitment but we will dust ourselves down and go again at home on Saturday against Graham St Prims.”
United made one change from the cup victory against Eastwood last week with an absent Ben Gowing replaced by Dean Oliver.
There was a minute’s silence in memory of Phill Alcock, a well respected man within local football, prior to kick-off.
Phill had connections with Belper United and Holbrook Sports.
The first chance on the night fell to Belper and came in the fourth-minute when Josh Wright hit a shot wide of the Radford keeper.
A well-worked opportunity fell to forward Adam Dring who shot over from 18 yards on the 16th-minute.
Radford’s first sight of goal saw them rattle the home side’s crossbar before Belper could get the ball to safety.
Tim Adcock showed good footwork towards the edge of Radford’s area only to be fouled 20 yards out, with Alfie Holland sending the resulting free-kick over the bar.
New signing from Heanor, Joss Walmsley, was introduced into the action on 60 minutes for Belper.
Keeper Rathbone had to be alert to push Moore’s shot out for a corner while at the other end Belper were wasteful of several set pieces.
And with both sides pushing for the winner it was Radford who got it, in the 89th-minute, when Moore put in a dangerous cross which was met by Smith over two defenders, who planted a header past Rathbone for all three points.