FLEETWOOD manager Graham Alexander believes referee Gary Sutton made a big mistake in sending off keeper Scott Davies in Saturday’s home clash with Burton Albion, condemning Town to their heaviest defeat in the Football League.
Davies was given a straight red card 10 minutes into the second half after apparently sliding into Albion’s Jacques Maghoma.
Town’s promotion rivals scored the resulting penalty and went on to win 4-0 as the home side dropped out of the League Two play-off zone.
Both boss Alexander and Davies deny any contact was made with the Brewers player.
Alexander said: “It was two teams cancelling each other out. I don’t think either team was lighting up the world with their attacking play.
“It was two teams at the top who didn’t want to give an inch.
“The referee has made a decision to give the penalty, which I didn’t think it was, and send off our keeper. It was a double whammy and left us facing an uphill battle.”
Alexander insisted, having spoken to his keeper, there had been no contact.
He said: “I’ve spoken to the keeper and he insists the only contact is where their player kicks him.
“The player knows the challenge is coming in, sticks his leg into the challenge and falls over.
“It’s not a penalty. It kicks you two or three times. But this is football.
“Do we feel sorry for ourselves or do we pick ourselves up and go again next week. I know what we’re going to do.”
But Alexander saw no point in confronting Mr Sutton. He said: “There’s no point. You’re going to get good decision and bad decisions. We all make mistakes. I’m not going to go chasing referees.
“We’ll just deal with the things we can control.”
Substitute keeper David Lucas almost kept out Maghoma’s penalty kick.
As it was Fleetwood were forced to chase the game – caught out on the break as they looked for a way back.
“David Lucas was unlucky, he guessed right and went the same way,” said Alexander.
“Sometimes you hit it no so great and it just goes under the keeper’s body. That’s how it seemed to go.
“After that we had to make a decision, do we shut up shop or do we go on and try and get something out of the game.
“The only thing we want to do is win football matches and so we had to go for it a little bit and we opened ourselves up to the counter attack.”
And Alexander believed the scoreline flattered Burton – who moved into the automatic promotion places following their victory.
“It was never a 4-0 game,” said the Fleetwood boss. “I’m sure Gary Rowett will say the same.
“After the penalty, attacking wise we created some opportunities but we obviously left the back door open a bit and got punished for it.
“It’s a tough one for the lads because they’ve been brilliant in recent weeks and I don’t want the good feeling and the attitude of the lads to be burst by one poor decision. We’ll lick our wounds over the weekend and prepare right for the next game and we’ll put this behind us.”
Alexander was pleased with the attitude of his side, despite the heavy defeat. He said: “It’s hard to go when you’re 2-0 down and a man down. But I didn’t see the lads’ heads drop. They kept up the energy and kept the tackles coming in. It’s important to see that,
“When you’re up against it, against one of your rivals I want to see them keep driving through and keep doing the right things, running off the ball, unselfish and running for the team. We know we can play better and we’ve made mistakes.
“I’m not going to pile it all onto the referee because the defending up to the penalty, it should not have got to that point.”
And the Fleetwood boss was honest about the creativity shown by his side – insisting there was still plenty of work to be done.
He said: “We were lacking in creativity but I didn’t see things that were hurting us either.
“We’re not going to bury our head in the sand and say it was the penalty and nothing else.
“We know we can improve and that’s what we’re going to try and do.”
Town were missing Junior Brown, Gareth Evans and Ryan Crowther through injuries, seriously limiting options wide, but Alexander wouldn’t blame his lengthy treatment list.
He said:“I’m not going to blame injuries. Yes, it adds to the threat we didn’t have. But I’m not going to do it, I’m not going to say it. We had 11 professional footballers out there and then we bring on subs who are professional footballers. We’ve just got to get on with the job.”