Boss Paul Doswell has defended Ben King after his mistake opened the gates for Dover Athletic to dump Sutton United out of the Skrill South play-offs.
The young defender, promoted from the youth side at the beginning of April as Doswell dealt with a string of injuries, failed to clear a Jeff Goulding knock-down, leaving Ricky Modeste free to fire Dover ahead.
As United chased the game, Dover would strike twice more to seal a miserable afternoon.
After a nervous first leg, where he was substituted as half-time, King had started Saturday on the bench with the more experienced Will Spetch stepping in.
But when Spetch was injured in the opening 20 minutes, King once again faced winger Modeste, his tormentor from the first leg.
Doswell said: “Maybe it was a game too far for Ben. He could have come on and been the hero, but he’s missed his clearance and they’ve scored.
“Who would have thought that would happen? It was not nice for the lad, but that’s football and no one holds him responsible for it.
“Football is about 90 per cent bad times, and 10 per cent good times, and hunting those good times is the drug that keeps us coming back for more.
“No one has a god-given right to be in the top five of the Skrill South, and finishing second was wonderful and Ben was a key part of that.
“At the moment, life seems miserable, but we’ll be back, and that is why we love football, and that is why Ben will come back.”