Boss Jamie Fullarton believes the referee made the wrong decision in sending off James Berrett in Town’s 0-0 draw at home to Havant and Waterlooville.
The decision was the key moment in the clash, and hampered the hosts’ ability to find a decisive goal, as they drew 0-0 for the fourth consecutive home league game, and the fourth time in their last six games.
Fullarton said of referee Carl Brook, who was a late replacement for original official Matthew Dicicco: “The referee’s influenced the game, whatever way you want to look at it, unfortunately.
“Referees are meant to manage games and not influence them, and unfortunately he’s influenced the game.
“It changes your game plan totally.
“We played with 10 men for over an hour, and still never looked like conceding.
“Great credit to the players for their attitude and understanding.
“Did we go negative? No we didn’t. We played with two up with only 10 men, we changed the shape to go with a 4-1-2-2. Why? Because we still wanted to try and win the game.
“I think you’ve got to give the players credit for the way they worked for over an hour, to manage the game that was influenced by the referee.”
When asked whether he felt Town had shown enough before the red card to suggest they would go on and win the game, Fullarton said: “Without a doubt. We started reasonably well, and I had real confidence at that stage of the game that we’d go on and win the game.”
Fullarton said the referee ignored the advice of his fourth official.
“His role as a referee is to manage the game and not influence, and unfortunately he’s influenced the game,” Fullarton said.
“The fourth official was giving his feedback on what he’d seen, and yet he chose not to listen, it’s as simple as that.
“Taking into account the elbow, on two occasions, that was deliberate against Johnny (Edwards).
“I asked him (the referee) in the tunnel ‘if someone elbows a player deliberately in the back of the head, is it a sending off?’ and he said ‘yes, if it’s deliberate’.
“I said ‘the fourth official explained to you that from his angle it was a deliberate elbow, and yet you felt the need to overrule it’.
“But that’s his prerogative, and unfortunately he’s influenced the game.”
Fullarton said he would need to see the incident again before deciding whether to appeal it.
“I thought it was a foul, and I thought it was a yellow.
“I don’t think it was much different to the foul that was committed against James 10 minutes before about 30 yards from our goal.”
Fullarton was pleased with his side’s work-rate after Berrett’s red card in keeping Havant at bay.
“Even when we went down to 10 men I didn’t have any thoughts that we wouldn’t get something from the game, but we wanted to win it,” he said.
“I think the fact we stayed with two up showed that.
“We’ve been hampered with injuries this week and we had to put square pegs in round holes because we didn’t have the same attacking options available like we did on Tuesday night, where we got two injuries but we had three attacking options.
“Today we didn’t have that. We kept the two up but they ran out of legs.
“Ultimately that’s where you’ve got to be fair to the players, who ran their socks off against 11 men on a big pitch with a real intensity to their work.
“That’s why we had to make the changes but we still maintained the two up, although we didn’t have the changes on the bench to go like-for-like, which may have hindered our chance of winning the game as opposed to not losing.”
The result keeps the gap from Town to the relegation zone at five points.
“I think one defeat in 10 shows we’re a difficult team to beat,” Fullarton said.
“I keep banging the drum that we need to score more goals, and increase our conversion rate of chances.
“That’s evident, but when you have the solid foundation that we have and players that are willing to work to the level they show every time they go on the pitch, then it always gives you a chance to progress and win points.”
On the injuries to Dayle Southwell and Ben Tomlinson, Fullarton said: “Both had a scan today because of our concern over the severity and their reaction to the tests and treatment you do.
“They’re both muscle injuries. The fact that we’ve scanned them so early I think gives an indication of our concern for how long they’re going to be out.”
And on midfielder Cameron King, the Town boss said: “He’s not been anywhere near the training ground yet.
“When you’ve been knocked for six for two weeks and you haven’t been able to walk without coughing and spluttering or feeling weak, I wouldn’t suggest he’s going to be close to being involved.
“Once it’s out of your system you then have to gain what you’ve already lost (fitness wise), so unfortunately, there’s no plans for him to be in next week.”
On whether he will be able to add to his squad due to his mounting list of absentees, Fullarton said: “Every day I work on it (adding players to the squad), but there’s constraints that limit or prevent us being able to.
“We’re obviously down to 15 players now, but it’s important all the time (to bring players in).
“Because of injuries hampering us and having an impact on the squad we had limited attacking options from the bench today.
“We’ve got great competition defensively and we have strength and depth in those positions.
“I think six or seven clean sheets in the last 10 or 11 league games tells you how strong we are as a team defensively.
“But we need those options going forward. Unfortunately we’ve been impacted with the injuries we’ve picked up in this area (and) it is even more key for the last quarter of the season.”