Sunderland boss Phil Parkinson was left fuming at the final whistle after seeing his out-of-form side have a Charlie Wyke goal controversially ruled out in the 1-0 defeat at Gillingham.
Defender Connor Ogilvie scored an 89th-minute winner as Gillingham beat Sunderland at Priestfield.
But it was the decision from the referee to disallow a Wyke goal in the 77th minute that annoyed Parkinson.
“I can’t see the referee for a little bit longer yet, but he said as we were walking off at full-time that he felt that Luke O’Nien was in an offside position and that he impeded the goalkeeper,” said Parkinson.
“My question is why didn’t the assistant put his flag up straight away? I think that with the protests of the Gillingham players they’ve guessed and changed their minds.
“There’s no way the officials have seen what they’re saying happened. That was a blow for us as I felt we deserved something from the game. That goal would have given us something to hang on to.
“Their goal is a massive disappointment as we just had to see that set play out. If we’d have got a point we’d have taken that all day. It’s a blow for us to concede so late as anybody can see the lads gave everything today.”
The hosts dominated throughout, with strikers Brandon Hanlan and Mikael Mandron both hitting the bar in the opening half.
The visitors improved after the break and almost took the lead when O’Nien forced Gills goalkeeper Jack Bonham into a smart save from his volley. Substitute Wyke also shot inches wide seconds after coming on.
Left-back Ogilvie then fired home a late winner for Steve Evans’ side from close range after the visitors failed to clear Olly Lee’s corner.
Gillingham manager Evans said: “I think we deserved to win the game. We were dominant against an outstanding football club.
“We’ve played them three times very quickly and often it’s very hard to achieve dominance in all three games – we’ve done that in two-and-a-half games against them.
“It would be harsh on our players if their management team are thinking that we didn’t deserve to win today as they’re heading back home tonight.
“The minute it fell to Connor I thought he could score. He’s got fantastic ability and great desire, so when he spins on the ball he’s not worrying about people flying in, getting tackled, or somebody going in studs up.
“I expected him to score, but probably didn’t think he’d fire it into the top corner! I went to get a drink and before I know it my staff and all the substitutes are all running past me to celebrate. It was a great way to win a game.”