FC Halifax Town 1-2 Hartlepool: Referee’s decisions changed the game, says Fullarton

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Town boss Jamie Fullarton says the dynamic of the game was changed by referee Daniel Middleton after nine-men Halifax lost 2-1 to Hartlepool at The Shay.

Matty Brown and Matty Kosylo were both sent-off within five second-half minutes, during which Hartlepool also scored from a penalty from Liam Noble.

Nicky Featherstone added a second before Jacob Hanson pulled one back late on.

On Brown’s dismissal, Fullarton said: “I’ve seen it and I totally disagree. Unfortunately we’ve had a game where my understanding or expectation of a referee is to manage a game and not influence it, and unfortunately the first question I get asked is relating to a referee influencing the game.

“That’s where we’re at on the game. It clouds and detracts from what was a great effort from the players throughout the 95 minutes.

“It’s disappointing to be having to talk about such things.”

Fullarton said the penalty and red card was given for an “alleged deliberate stamp”.

“Having seen it, I totally disagree, and that’s only based on 30 years in professional football.

“His explanation wasn’t very clear. I did have (the video) but they’re not allowed to look at it in my presence.

“There was a little it of confusion over how it came about.

“The dynamic of the game was changed by that decision, so therefore I’ve watched it 20 times before speaking to the referee about it.

“I was unconvinced when I went in, and I’m even less convinced now I’ve come out from speaking to the referee.”

Fullarton said that Brown told him he didn’t mean to make contact with the player.

“The lad’s fallen on the ground and Matty’s jumped over him to get out of the way,” he said.

“The strange part was the referee played on for three seconds before going back, hence my question to him ‘who gave it?’ but he assured me that he gave the penalty and the straight red card, having seen it with no traffic in-front of him.

“But when there’s 18 bodies in the box at the time I find difficult to understand.”

On whether Town would be appealing Brown’s red card, Fullarton said: “Obviously it’s something that we will look at and I think it’s something that we must.

“It’s a strong statement or accusation to say it’s a deliberate stamp on someone’s head.

“From my view, having looked at it a number of times, I disagree, so it’s a process we’ll go through and hopefully we’ll get a positive from it.

“But to be able to do that you need a referee to turn around and admit he was wrong, and having just spoken to him, I’m not sure that will come out.”

On Kosylo’s sending-off, Fullarton said: “I haven’t looked at that. It’s two yellows obviously. I need to check what the first one was for.

“The explanation from the referee after the game didn’t give any clarity to it. I was as uncertain as I was before I went in (to see the referee).”

Fullarton praised the efforts of his players under difficult circumstances.

“The game panned out as we expected it because of what they are and what we are,” he said.

“The boys’ discipline and organisation from a defensive shape created the best two chances of the game.

“At half-time we regrouped and were ready to go again, with just a couple of little areas where we had to and wanted to do better.

“You go into the second-half with that optimism with the group we’ve got and their attitude, (you’re looking for) more of the same, and that’s what we would’ve experienced.

“And I don’t think we didn’t experience that second-half but when you’re down to nine men it’s difficult.

“But great credit to how they acted and reacted because it’s a difficult environment.

“The players felt aggrieved and quite rightly so.”

Fullarton was delighted with his side’s goal - a terrific run from almost one box to another by Jordan Preston before Hanson raced onto his through ball and finished calmly - but was frustrated that referee Middleton’s influence on proceedings overshadowed everything else.

“If you look at the first sending-off, the balance shifts in terms of how you can implement your own game-plan,” Fullarton added.

“But the principle of staying in the game is vital. I think losing two men makes it very difficult, but great credit to the nine players who, at 2-0 down with five minutes to go, are still creating opportunities, slim as they were.

“But I think the goal in itself is synonymous of what we are, it typifies the mentality, the attitude and how we’re looking to play.

“We’re talking about an incident we didn’t control, that an external body had an influence on the whole game, instead of waxing lyrical about a counter-attack goal that was slick, and showed that the players, even though we had nine men for 40 minutes, have run their socks off for this club, and for these fans, who were great.

“And they’re frustrated, and their frustration was obviously towards the decisions that were made, because everyone in the stadium knew that the important decisions influenced the game.”