BRIGHTLINGSEA Regent boss Tom Rothery felt a sense of burning injustice after his side's 2-0 defeat at home to Dorking Wanderers.

Jason Prior slotted home a controversial penalty just before half-time and Tom Richards added a second for the Bostik League leaders.

However, the latter followed what appeared a clear foul on full-back Jake Gould.

To add to their frustration, Regent should have been awarded a goal for a close-range effort that hit the roof of the net - only for the officials to wave play on, deeming that the ball had not crossed the line.

"It was always going to be a tough game against the league leaders but there wasn't much between the sides," said Rothery, whose side are preparing for tonight's Tolleshunt D'Arcy Memorial Cup at Maldon and Tiptree.

"We worked really hard to compete with them.

"However, for me, it was one of those occasions when the officials decided the outcome.

"Dorking's first goal came from a penalty but the player who ran through was five yards offside.

"You could tell from our players' reaction, because they were adamant.

"It was clear and video evidence proves the linesman should have flagged.

"It was a really poor decision and a kick in the teeth for us, coming just before half-time.

"Dorking's second was controversial, too, because Jake was fouled in the build-up, just as he went to clear the ball. It wasn't even debatable.

"It's so unfortunate because these are game-defining decisions and the feeling of injustice hurts.

"It sounds like sour grapes and I don't like to whinge about officials.

"I wouldn't want to be a referee.

"I understand it's a tough job and that they'll make mistakes.

"But at the end of the day, they're paid to spot obvious things like that and it hurts when massive decisions go against you.

"You work so hard all week to prepare for a game and then come up against officials who aren't consistent in their decision-making."

Both sides were reduced to ten men in the second half.

Regent striker Billy Hunt saw red for an alleged elbow before Dorking substitute Guiseppe Sole followed him down the tunnel on 82 minutes.

"I thought the decision to send Billy off was wrong at the time but, having seen it back, I think it probably was a red card," added Rothery.

"It means he'll miss three of our last five games.

"Josh Gould, who was suspended last weekend, also misses Saturday's trip to Bognor Regis.

"Harry Morgan is still injured and looks likely to miss out again while Joe Yaxley is away in Madrid.

"We've only got a small squad and it hurts you when you're missing key players, even if it creates opportunities for reserve and under-18 lads.

"We're in need of a lift and some momentum but need to concentrate on the positives.

"We'll go again this weekend and hope our luck turns soon."