OXFORD United felt hard done by as their crunch meeting with fellow play-off hopefuls York City was decided by a hotly-contested penalty.
Dave Kitson was adjudged to have handled in the area, a moment missed by referee Oliver Langford, but awarded on the back of advice from assistant Jake Hillier.
Michael Coulson converted from 12 yards early in the second half to earn a 1-0 win for the Minstermen at the Kassam Stadium.
It could prove hugely costly for the U’s, whose place in the top seven was taken by City with only three games remaining.
Left back Tom Newey was left questioning the game’s key decision.
He said: “It’s disappointing to lose to one of your close rivals.
“I thought it was a very evenly-contested game, which got decided by a controversial decision.
“I always thought the rule was deliberate handball.
“If it deflects off someone’s leg on to their hand it’s not deliberate in my understanding.
“I don’t know what Dave Kitson is meant to do, how is that deliberate?”
Gary Waddock, like many inside the stadium, did not have a good view of the incident and had to ask his players afterwards what had happened.
The U’s boss was frustrated the side could not replicate their performance from beating Plymouth 2-0 a week earlier.
He said: “It looked as though it was going to be a 0-0 if I’m being honest, but the decision was tough on us.
“We’ve lost the game and we’re very disappointed.
“After the performance at Plymouth it was set up, but we’ve come off with a 1-0 defeat.
“York are a well-organised side, you can’t take that away from them.
“They have a very good manager in charge and they’ve come here, done a job on us and got a result.”
United struggled to move the ball quickly, which had been a feature of their success at Plymouth.
Midfielder Nicky Wroe felt the pitch made an impact.
He said: “Last week we played on a really nice surface and as you see out pitch is nowhere near that standard.
“You struggle to get that tempo when the pitch is not very good, because it doesn’t roll right.”
l Match report: Pages 38-39