Farnham Town slipped out of the Cherry Red Records Premier Challenge Cup with a 2-1 defeat to Flackwell Heath.

It was a fiery encounter not helped by a very inconsistent performance from the referee, who turned a blind eye to many challenges.

Town went ahead after two minutes with a fine header from Seb Karczewski, but were pegged back through Cameron’s strike, and Ackerman hit the winner in the 78th minute.

Manager Sean Birchnall said: “We got off to a great start and we had good possession in good areas early on, and the energy levels were high.

“We should have scored two others but our decision making around their penalty box wasn’t good enough.

“We let them back in and we went in at 1-1 when really we should have been in control of the game.

“We made some poor decisions in and around our own box.

“These cup games are designed to give players who have been on the bench some time on the pitch, and that’s what we have done. Young Seb was exceptional – he was a Farnham youth player and then went off to Walton & Hersham, and we have just got him back. He wasn’t playing much there so we need to get him match fit and he really took his opportunity.

“But if you’re 3-0 up at half-time the mistakes we made don’t really matter.

“We changed our formation and threw a few people forward and we had our chances.”

But the referee did have an impact on the game – at one time Kane Fitzgerald was bursting through the middle and was hauled back by his shirt, but the referee waved play on.

Birchnall did not get drawn on the official’s display on the night. “Let’s be fair, we have not lost the tie because of the officials,” he said.

But Step 5 officials this season have come in for some criticism and Birchnall did say: “I see how the top levels of the game moan about officiating, but they should come down to our level and see some of the decisions here.

“I understand that a lot of decisions referees have to give are based on opinions, and I’ll have a different opinion than the opposing manager.

“But if referees make decisions that everyone else in the ground can see are wrong, then that’s not right.

“For managers who work hard with their players twice a week at training, and then for someone to have such a big impact on the game, that’s challenging for players and managers.

“Referees need to be coached and managed properly – on matchdays they are managing 40 people, players and staff, and that’s not easy.”

Farnham are back in action at The Memorial Ground again tomorrow (Saturday) when they entertain Redhill in the league (3pm).