Town 1 - 1 Brentford. VICTORY would have been the just reward for gutsy Town last night.
Lou Macari's men battered Brentford throughout the second half and looked like taking the spoils through Leon Knight's fifth goal on loan.
It was not to be, however, as Ben Burgess popped up in the fifth minute of stoppage time at the end to claim a draw and leave the McAlpine faithful gutted.
While Town were scolded for their display against Gravesend in the Cup, this time the boos were reserved for referee Graham Salisbury, who had an awful game.
It was an over-generous advantage to Brentford in the 62nd minute which prompted Macari to lose his cool and end up getting sent from the bench.
The Preston official, however, continuously allowed Brentford's forwards to get away with backing in while at the other end, Danny Schofield's honest challenging was punished when Knight had the ball in the net just after half time.
Incidents like that added to Town's ultimate frustration on a night when their football should have been the main talking point for demolishing a promotion favourite.
Instead, everyone went away talking of what might have been, not just against Brentford last night but against Notts County and Oldham recently when further points went down the pan.
Just how costly they will prove at the end of the season only time will tell, and it is of little consolation at the moment that Town are seven matches unbeaten since Knight came to the club from Chelsea's Reserves.
What is encouraging, however, is that they made a team who have been steamrollering along this season look very ordinary indeed (once an unmentionably dire first half had been consigned to football's equivalent of the sewerage treatment works).
Buoyed by the excellent skills of Danny Schofield down the left and lifted by Knight's cheeky brand of trickery through the middle, Town passed the ball sweetly and attacked with verve.
Town took the game by the scruff of the neck and it was no surprise when Knight pounced to fire them ahead on 54 minutes, after Bees goalkeeper Olafur Gottskalksson had kept out a stinging drive from Kenny Irons and a goalbound follow-up from Andy Booth.
Only a tremendous sliding block from Michael Dobson prevented Booth extending the lead from Knight's cross five minutes later, while the livewire loan striker had a low shot stopped by the keeper as pressure mounted.
By then, Macari had been banished from the dug-out after protesting at the ludicrous award of a foul against Kevin Gray, who was in tremendous form to keep Lloyd Owusu pretty quiet.
Everyone worked hard in defence, however, on a night when Steve Jenkins' return added bite and assurance, while the midfield were not to be outdone.
Schofield was outstanding and Town looked to have the points in the bag until the fourth official held up the board to indicate a minimum of four minutes stoppage time at the end.
Suddenly, Brentford - who had sent on three subs in a desperate attempt to salvage a point - seemed to step up a gear and force Town back into their own box.
Defending that deep was costly as Martin Rowlands' shot was deflected wide for the corner from which Paul Gibbs swung in the decisive set piece.
Twice Town blocked on the line, but there was nothing anyone could do to stop Burgess netting in front of 302 delirious visitors.
Town's players and fans simply couldn't believe it had happened, Brentford had gone close only once beforehand with an Ivar Ingimarsson header just before half time.
To draw, therefore, was hard to stomach, but Town should take great heart from the quality of their second-half display.
Town team (4-4-2)
Martyn Margetson: Didn't have a serious shot to save all match and was rarely in the action until a furious spell of stoppage time at the end. Rating:7.
Steve Jenkins: Brought reassurance to the back line on his return from injury and made some cracking tackles at left-back. Rating:8.
Thomas Heary: Much more measured with his passing at right-back and put in a couple of inviting crosses as well. Rating:7.
Kevin Gray: Had an excellent game and missed very little throughout. Given no support whatsoever by the referee when Brentford's forwards were backing in. Rating:8.
Nathan Clarke: Made a couple of very timely tackles and won his fair share in the air. Rating:7.
Chris Holland: Linked up well on the right of midfield and was involved in plenty of promising attacks in the second half. Rating:7.
Dwayne Mattis: Great workrate once again. One or two passes went astray which normally wouldn't have done, but he gave his all in a crowded midfield. Rating:7.
Kenny Irons: Showed a cool head, even though the final pass didn't always match the vision. It was his fierce low drive which eventually led to Knight's goal. Rating:7.
Andy Booth: Did well in the air and unlucky on a couple of occasions not to get on the scoresheet. It was his shot which was followed up by Knight to score and he was prevented by Dobson from scoring what seemed a certain goal on 59 minutes. Rating:7.
Leon Knight: His fifth goal for the club looked like being the winner. Caused Brentford problems with his pace and worked hard throughout. Rating:8.
Danny Schofield: Superb performance on the left flank, creating chances and having a pop at goal himself. Rating:9.
Subs not used: Phil Senior (Gkp), Adrian Moses, Jon Dyson, Chris Hay, Paul Macari.
Danny Schofield: He was the only Town player to really get going in the first half, and he didn't disappoint in the second. Very unlucky to be booked considering some of the other tackles which went in. His pace and skills stood out, however, and he is proving a real asset for Town on the left flank.
Brentford: - (4-4-2) Gottskalksson, Ingimarsson, Powell, Evans (Hutchinson 84), Mahon, Owusu, Dobson, Gibbs, O'Connor (McCammon 80), Hunt (Rowlands 75), Burgess. Subs not used: P Smith, Theobald.
Referee - Graham Salisbury (Preston).
Cautions - Town: Schofield. Brentford: Rowlands.
Half time - 0-0.
Scorers - Town: Knight 54 mins. Brentford: Burgess 90.
Shots on target - Town: 6. Brentford 2.
Corners - Town: 4. Brentford: 7.
Caught offside - Town: 5. Brentford: 1.
Free-kicks awarded - Town: 10. Brentford: 11.
Attendance - 8,518 (Away: 302).