Jim Shinton said the Ellesmere Port squad were ‘heartbroken’ following the dramatic 21-20 defeat at home to Congleton.
Port held a six-point lead with seconds to go but the Bears scored on the final play and then landed a touchline conversion to snatch the win.
Oilers captain Shinton said: “We didn’t play our best rugby and maybe we didn’t expect Congleton to be as strong and fast as they were but I thought we’d done enough to get the win only for the joy to be taken away right at the end.”
Port made the better start with a nice move from the scrum base seeing Shinton offload to Lee Rennox, who raced clear to give the hosts a 5-0 lead.
Joe White extended the advantage with a three-pointer before the Bears hit back with a converted score to close within a point.
Congleton intercepted a wild pass on the stroke of half-time and ran in under the posts to take a 14-8 lead into the break.
Coach Ian Johnson, standing in for Steve Dorrington, read the riot act during the interval and made a couple of tactical changes.
His side responded with an onslaught on the Congleton line that ended with centre Anthony Jones powering over and White adding the extra to put them 15-14 up.
Port continued to force the game and with 15 minutes to go Eric McMorine brushed off two defenders and then broke another three tackles for a fine solo score to extend the lead to six points.
Injuries depleted the Oilers ranks through the second half and gave the Bears a sniff but Port looked to be coping with the pressure until Congleton struck right at the death.
Port make the short trip up the M53 to Wallasey on Saturday (3pm) and will have to make a number of enforced changes.