GORDON Bartlett accused referee Marc Wilson of being intimidated by Lowestoft supporters after nine-man Wealdstone crashed out of the Ryman League playoffs in Suffolk last night.
Wilson brandished two red cards in as many minutes late on as first Chris O’Leary and then Sean Cronin were sent to the dressing rooms, before Stones were beaten by a penalty in the sixth of seven minutes of injury time.
O’Leary walked after picking up a second yellow for pushing the Trawlerboys’ Scott Mitchell to the floor, while Sean Cronin soon followed, given a straight red for what Wilson deemed a two-footed lunge on Dean Sinclair.
Boss Bartlett felt hard done by, particularly in the case of Cronin feeling Wilson had crumbled under pressure from the home support and he understands the man in black was not the first to succumb to such pressure at Crown Meadow this season.
He said: “I thought the second red card was never a sending-off – Sean won the ball clearly.
“I think the referee was influenced by the fans and that is something that’s been said many a time, when you come here.
“I spoke with a couple of other managers this week and they said ‘I hope you get a strong referee that can deal with that’.
“It looks as though it was ill discipline, but I don’t think it was. The referee might reflect on some of the decisions he made second half and feel emotion got the better of him.”
Bartlett believes the two red cards swung the game decisively in Lowestoft’s favour just at a point where Stones had seized the initiative thanks to Scott Fitzgerald’s header just beyond the hour which cancelled out Chris Henderson’s opener for the visitors.
“Their goal was one we probably should have cleared, but I felt if we scored second half we’d go on and win it, and we were in the ascendancy until Chris got sent off, he added.
“That changed it and to lose another one two minutes later and have Wes Parker go down injured as well, you knew it was going to be difficult.”