Neil Critchley 'aghast' and 'bewildered' by referee's contentious decisions as Blackpool squander two-goal lead to lose to Doncaster Rovers

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Neil Critchley admits he was “aghast” and “bewildered” by some of the referee’s bizarre calls in Blackpool’s 3-2 defeat to Doncaster Rovers.
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Doncaster Rovers 3-2 Blackpool: Neil Critchley's side squander two-goal lead to ...

The Seasiders squandered a two-goal half-time lead after a magnificent first 45 minutes lead to lose their five-game winning run in all competitions.

Pool were awarded a penalty in the first-half when Gary Madine was brought down, a spot kick that was converted by Jerry Yates. CJ Hamilton then doubled their lead shortly before the interval.

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But Darren Moore’s side pulled a goal back three minutes into the second-half when Cameron John steered home, despite Taylor Richards appearing to be offside in the build-up.

Reece James then got Doncaster back on level terms five minutes later before Ben Whiteman completed their turnaround 15 minutes from time, the midfielder converting a penalty after Kenny Dougall had been penalised for a lunge.

Critchley’s side then ought to have been awarded a second penalty in stoppage time when Brad Halliday blatantly handled the ball in his own box.

Reflecting on a crazy 90 minutes of action, Critchley said: “I thought we were fantastic in the first-half, we were in complete control of the game and deservedly led 2-0 at half-time.

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Blackpool boss Neil CritchleyBlackpool boss Neil Critchley
Blackpool boss Neil Critchley

“I’d love to say they flew out of the traps at the start of the second-half and put us under pressure and created chances, but they didn’t.

“The first goal is a major error from the officials. I’ve just seen it back and the lad is clearly offside from the cross.

“That’s why we have our organisation like we do inside the penalty area from corners, to make sure we catch people offside when they pull it back to the edge of the box.

“He’s crossed it, the lad is clearly two or three yards offside, he comes back onside, Marvin (Ekpiteta) heads it against the back of his head. They’re saying he’s not interfering but he’s headed it against his head.

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“It’s fallen for them and we’re appealing because we’re expecting it to be offside and it’s not.

“That then gives them a major lift in the game at 2-1. If we manage that period for the first 15 to 20 minutes of the second-half, then I’m convinced we go on and win that game.

“I thought their second goal was excellent, it’s a fantastic goal I have to say.

“But again, we showed a good response at 2-2. We looked the most likely to score on the break or in and around the penalty area and Maxi (Chris Maxwell) has had nothing to do all night and I’m scratching my head thinking ‘how have we conceded three goals and lost that game?’

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On Doncaster’s penalty, which Pool’s players on the pitch fiercely contested, Critchley added: “It’s hard to say if it was a penalty from the touchline because there’s lots of bodies in the way.

“I’m not sure if Kenny or Marvin has got a touch on the ball. They’ve both gone to ground and if they haven’t (touched the ball) then I’ve got no qualms about that.

“But right at the end, the ball bounces up and it hits the boy on the hand. You could clearly see it. If his hand is not there then we’re in behind him.

“He’s handled the ball inside the penalty box. It’s not like someone has kicked the ball at his hand from two yards away, the ball has travelled 50 yards, bounced and hit him on the hand. It’s a clear penalty.

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“There were no players around the player, it wasn’t like the referee couldn’t see it. I’m just absolutely aghast and bewildered how he can’t give it, I really don’t know.

“I’m just amazed by the decisions that we don’t seem to be getting this season.”

Critchley’s anger was only intensified when the fourth official indicated just three minutes of stoppage time, despite there being six subs between the two sides and three second-half goals.

“We had two minutes in the first-half and he said it was because of two goals,” Critchley continued.

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“Then he adds three minutes in the second-half when there’s been three goals, so there’s three minutes. Plus all the substitutions, plus Gary (Madine) had been down and they kicked the ball out of play. It just baffles me, absolutely baffles me.

“But I don’t want to harp on about referees too much, although I have to say for some reason, this season, we could put a long list of incidents together that wouldn’t look too favourable on the officials.”

Blackpool’s head coach walked over to the man in charge at the end of the game, but to no success.

“He said I couldn’t speak to him on the pitch after the game due to Covid restrictions or some kind of ruling,” Critchley said.

“I was calm, I tried to ask him the question but he said I couldn’t. I walked away and to be honest I’m not sure I’ll get much out of him anyway, so I don’t see the point in it now.”