Bristol City manager Derek McInnes conceded that Malaury Martin's introduction forced a draw against Middlesbrough.
Martin's stunning strike earned Boro a point against City for the second time this season after Hogan Ephraim's opener, having netted a stoppage-time free-kick in the previous fixture three months ago.
This time the Frenchman unleashed a screamer early in the second half after coming on as a substitute - an impact which McInnes was in no doubt changed the outcome.
"We showed a lot of spirit and we deserved at least a point," he said.
"Martin's was a fantastic strike and we knew he possessed that sort of potential because he did it to us at our place.
"He was the reason Middlesbrough deserved a point. They were better after he came on."
The City boss was angry with full-back Ryan McGivern's dismissal after he was adjudged to have pulled down Boro's Lukas Jutkiewicz on the edge of the box.
The referee was set to wave play on but the linesman had flagged and, after a discussion, McGiven was shown a red card.
"I don't know how he can let the linesman change his mind like that," said McInnes.
"It was disappointing. The ball was going away from their striker and Ryan appeared to slip under him and bring him down."
Meanwhile Boro boss Tony Mowbray was more concerned with a controversial decision in the final few minutes when Adam Hammill's penalty appeals were waved away after finding himself sandwiched between two City players.
"He was blocked in the box and nine times out of 10 that is a penalty," said Mowbray.
"Anywhere other than the box and that is a definite free-kick."
A frustrated Mowbray admitted that they failed to capitalise on a glorious chance to make ground on the play-off places.
"No excuses, we just weren't good enough today," he said.
"We know the opportunity was there for us and that other results have gone our way so naturally we are bitterly disappointed.
"Winning matches is hard work for us. We have created an expectation this season with where we are in the table but the reality is that we not a team that can dominate games.
"We are not a team that can go out and win games three or four nil.
"But we are still in there, still fighting and we have to take the positives in that we came from behind and finished strongly."