George Elokobi backed goalkeeper Tom Hadler after his injury-time mistake in Maidstone’s defeat by Bromley.
Hadler spilled a shot from Corey Whitely, with Louis Dennis pouncing on the loose ball to give the visitors a 3-2 National League win at the Gallagher Stadium on Tuesday night.
The big keeper hadn’t played since early January after suffering an elbow injury in training.
He was back in the team with Dan Barden out injured and Yusuf Mersin out on loan at National South club Welling.
It wasn’t his night but Stones boss Elokobi was quick to stick up for his goalie after Maidstone's winless run reached 19 games.
“Tom doesn’t need to say anything,” said Elokobi.
“He’s done tremendous for us. He’s come in in difficult circumstances in terms of us being short.
“As you can tell, there wasn’t any keeper on the bench and he’s come from the cold to do a job for the team.
“He did excellent in terms of what he did for us and he’s going to learn.
“Is it going to be the first or the last time that happens? No, but the defeat is not on Tom.
“The defeat is on us and we’re in it together and we’ll make sure we pick him up because that’s what we do.
“We’re in it together and we make sure we keep his spirits up and I’ll definitely ensure he’s in good spirits.”
Dennis’ winner was the 10th injury-time goal Maidstone have conceded this season and the second time it’s happened in four days after Woking’s last-gasp 2-1 win on Saturday.
It was hard on a Stones side who were on course for a deserved point after Sam Bone’s second-half equaliser.
They’d taken an early lead through Josh Shonibare only to trail at half-time to goals from Dennis and Deji Elerewe.
Maidstone will be the first team relegated if they lose at home to Boreham Wood on Saturday.
“It’s another heartbreaker and we’ve got to pick our players up again,” said Elokobi.
“We keep saying about the performances. They gave us everything, they left everything on the pitch today.
“It’s a local derby, it had everything in the game but we’ve fallen short yet again and we have to go again on Saturday and that’s exactly what I’ve told our boys.
“They executed our game plan offensively but then we’ve conceded three goals.
"There’s no hiding place, we have to make sure we try and keep a clean sheet to win a game and that’s football.
“That’s the story of the season. That’s why I’m the man to try and put that right and, yes, I will put that right.
“We are working ever so hard to try and put things right and we’ll keep going game by game.
“We’re looking forward to the next game now.
“It shows how far we’ve come where we can stand here and talk about narrow defeats.
“It shows how far myself and the group, the management team, we’ve all come as a football club from when I came in.
“Yes, there’s no hiding it, we want to win a game and we’re going to keep going and the next challenge is Saturday.
“We have to make sure we prepare the squad better to be able to go out and compete.”