Fleetwood boss Graham Alexander was sent off for the first time in his managerial career as 10-man Town suffered their heaviest defeat of the campaign.
And he wasn’t holding back in his fury at man in the middle Patrick Miller – a controversial goal and a bizarre red card just the tip of the iceberg on a miserable day as Town went down 3-0 at Chesterfield.
Fleetwood were already a goal down when chaos descended at the end of the first half.
A second Spireites goal was allowed to stand despite a whistle being blown in the build-up. Tempers frayed and midfielder Antoni Sarcevic was handed his marching orders for the use of foul and abusive language.
It was too much for the Fleetwood boss, who was himself dispatched after the break – he insists for a sarcastic round of applause aimed at the officials.
And Alexander made it clear he believes ref Miller had ended the game as a contest well before Town’s meltdown.
“It was obviously about the referee’s performance,” he said. “It was two good teams who were competing for the first 15 or 20 minutes.
“Then there was one tackle on the touchline, which the crowd reacted to and from then on it was .... well, I don’t know what it was.
“It wasn’t a game of professional football because for that you need two teams who are allowed to compete. That wasn’t the case.”
There was no let-up as Alexander defended his players, who earned eight bookings between them.
“I really hope there were no players badly hurt. It was such a ferocious game from us,” he said. “I’ll have to speak to the animals I manage.
“There were some horrendous tackles going in there, apparently.
“One of our players gets sent off for foul and abusive language and I get sent off for clapping.
“I didn’t realise that was against the rules of football but apparently it is.”
It’s not the first time this season Alexander has aimed his fury at match officials.
And he revealed some of them have admitted mistakes to him only for their honesty to be undermined by the system.
“It’s brilliant, it’s fantastic,” said Alexander, on being told he had been dismissed for inappropriate behaviour in the technical area.
“They do make me laugh. I’ve had referees ring me up this year and apologise for things they’ve got wrong, then you see the reports from the assessor and the referee has had a fantastic game. Something is obviously wrong.
“I’ve kept things to myself because I know they have difficult jobs, but today was something I haven’t seen before.
“What I’m proud of is my players’ control, because if I’d have been a player out there I’d have lost it myself.”
Fleetwood tempers clearly frayed as the first half proceeded, and Alexander revealed just why he believed the incident before half-time occured.
“It was a ridiculous free-kick in the first goal. David Ball was competing with a lad two feet taller and three stone heavier than him.
“He’s made contact; that’s what the fourth (official) has said.
“Apparently you’re not allowed to make contact any more, so we may as well do away with shinpads.
“For the second goal, the lad takes the free-kick before the whistle, which I’ve confirmed. I’ve seen it on the DVD but I knew it at the time.
“That’s why my players are frustrated – we weren’t allowed to compete.”
The setback saw Town slip to 11th in League One, four points off the play-off pack.
They have a quick opportunity to seek redress when Scunthorpe visit Highbury tomorrow night.
And, having had a player sent off in the last two games, the Town boss is hoping for a level playing field.
“Hopefully we’ll be allowed to play 11 v 11 on Tuesday and have a fair game,” Alexander said.
“I started putting this one behind me 15 minutes before the end.
“It was obviously a game we weren’t going to get anything out of.
“I was just praying we didn’t get anyone else sent off or anyone seriously hurt. It’s now on to the next one.”