Aldershot Town beaten 1-0 at home by Cambridge United in Skrill Premier clash
Aldershot Town boss Andy Scott refused to blame Joe Oastler for the catastrophic own-goal that resulted in a first defeat of the season - and then backed his new arrival to respond in style.
Right-back Oastler inexplicably headed Harrison Dunk's harmless-looking cross into his own net on the quarter-hour mark to hand visitors Cambridge United a victory which took them to the top of table.
And in truth, it was no more than they deserved after a dominant display which gave the Shots something of a Conference wake-up call following the euphoria of Tuesday night's 3-0 victory over Dartford .
Indeed, the scoreline could have been more emphatic had goalkeeper Glenn Morris not pulled off a string of fine saves to keep the U's at bay in the first half, while Ryan Donaldson missed the chance to wrap it up from the penalty spot 14 minutes from time, but blazed his shot high over the bar.
Many of the 2,022 in attendance will have more than a tinge of sympathy for Oastler, who has emerged as one of Scott's shining lights in pre-season having been released by Torquay United in the summer.
The boss, however, has no such worries that the 23-year-old will lift his chin off the ground and atone for his error in time for the busy bank holiday weekend.
"Joe's a great lad, you saw in the second half he kept his head down and kept working," Scott said.
"There's no blame apportioned to him. He thought he was just going to guide the ball out, he's misjudged it and it's gone in, these things happen, everyone makes mistakes.
"Joe's been fantastic for us all pre-season, he's a very level-headed lad and he'll pick himself up. He won't need too much head-rubbing, he'll be alright."
Oastler's moment of madness came just after Morris had pulled off the first of a hat-trick of saves, keeping out a low drive from the lively Dunk, who was posing Cambridge's biggest attacking threat.
It was no surprise therefore that the only goal came from that same source - the former Bromley man gliding past veteran Chris Barker down the right and centring into the danger area.
With striker Delano Sam-Yorke not able to keep up, the cross looked harmless enough, but with no-one within yards of the covering Oastler on the far post, the young right back stooped to head into his own net at the far post to the amazement of the home contingent.
By now the U's were resurgent and but for Morris in keeping out a Sam-Yorke effort with his legs and a Luke Berry cross-shot, the Shots could have been three down at the break.
Having failed to register a shot on target of note in the first half, Scott's response was to replace the ineffective Matt Paterson with Aaron Wickham – and the change in dynamic almost paid dividends within a minute of the restart with Mark Molesley cutting in from the left and seeing his low shot deflected into the grateful arms of Maxwell.
Manny Oyeleke then came close to doubling his season's goal tally on 53 minutes with a shot on the turn which rippled the net to the instant delight of the East Bank - sadly, however, it could only find the side-netting.
Craig Stanley nearly turned Captain Fantastic with a rasping 30-yard drive which stung the palms of Maxwell, while a second effort, a bit closer in this time, was deflected wide by a desperate Cambridge defence.
'Work in progress'
But just when it looked as though the Shots would push on for a leveller, they were given a let-off at the other end.
Donaldson burst into the box down the right channel and went down under the softest of challenges from Jake Goodman.
Referee Adam Bromley had no hesitation in pointing to the penalty spot but Donaldson could only blaze his spot-kick high over the bar and into the advertising hoardings at the High Street end.
A first sight this season of Cameron Brown failed to inspire the Shots to a grandstand finish, but, gracious in defeat, philosophical Scott still found plenty of room for encouragement.
He said: "When you are a week into putting a team together at some point it was going to come and maybe it's a good thing that it's happened now because we can highlight the fact we've lost to a good Cambridge side who have spent a lot of money and been together for a while.
"We dominated possession but our quality wasn't quite there in the final third and we didn't keep the ball simply enough. These are all lessons that we should be using on a training ground in pre-season to get the message across but we are having to do it in games, but that's life, we understand that.
"It's work in progress, we have a very small squad and the players are still learning on the job."
ALDERSHOT: Morris, Oastler, Barker (Brown 86) Goodman, Webster, Stanley, Rowlands, Molesley (Roberts 75), Oyeleke, Paterson (Wickham 45), B Williams. Subs: Douglas, L Williams.
Ref: A Bromley. Att: 2,022 (309).