Leamington manager Paul Holleran said his players’ failure to man-manage the referee proved decisive in their 4-1 home defeat to AFC Fylde.
An entertaining contest turned in the minutes leading up to half-time when referee Chris O’Donnell first failed to spot a foul on keeper Ross Atkins in the build-up to Fylde’s second and then sent off Brakes skipper Danny Newton for what he deemed a stamp on Joe Booth.
The hosts remained in the game until conceding two goal in the final ten minutes but while praising his side’s character, Holleran said their inexperience shone through, especially regarding the red card.
“There’s a sense of injustice,” said Holleran.
“We’ve got to manage the officials better.
“I could see there was some kind of contact - I’m not wearing gold and black-tinted glasses. But Danny didn’t stamp and there was no violent conduct.
“All of a suddent three or four Fylde players surround the referee.
“What’s disappointing from our point of view is where are we? Richie Allen charges across the pitch and the referee’s decision is made for him.
“In the last two games Barrow and Fylde have managed the referee better than we have and shown more nous and experience. Whether it is right or wrong, it’s part of the game.”
Holleran admits the lack of big characters on the pitch means he often has to compensate from the sidelines to ensure his side get a fair deal from officials.
And he says that can often be the difference in tightly fought games.
“You hear me a lot because I feel that I have to manage the referee. We’re such a quiet team. We’ve haven’t got a Jamie Hood, a Richard Batchelor or a Liam Daly any more.
“When I watch Brackley, Billy Turley stands on the edge of his 18-yard box and manages the referee for 90 minutes.
“Wayne Thomas at Worcester manages the referee.
“Richie Allen straight away smelt a poor referee. Experienced players can. They’ll try everything on in the first ten minutes and see what they can get away with and then they’ll manipulate the referee.
“We haven’t managed that and we’ve come out on the wrong end of two or three close decisions.”
Despite the controversy which closed out the opening 45 minutes, Holleran did not gloss over the Fylde goals: “referee or no referee they were a joke”.
However, his main regret was that Brakes did not get a chance to build on a promising first half, which saw Newton open the scoring with a well-worked goal and the home side spurn several other clearcut chances against their highflying visitors.
“As much as it was a little bit open, we asked a lot of questions of them.
“We caused them a lot of problems and there was a lot to be pleased w ith.
“I was happy to come in at 1-1 and then have a go at them down the hill. That’s the disappointing thing.”
Newton now faces a three-match ban for violent conduct but he will be available for tomorrow’s trip to Gainsborough.
James Fry, meanwhile, has made his final appearance for Brakes following Birmingham City’s decision not to extend his contract at St Andrews.
The midfielder has been allowed to leave the New Windmill to try and secure a full-time playing contract, freeing up a place in the squad which has been filled by Josh Hawker.
Hawker had a spell with Brakes in 2013.