Joey Barton spoke of his frustration after Fleetwood’s “Jekyll and Hyde” performance in their 2-0 defeat at Walsall and the Town boss called on referee Eddie Ilderton to review his approach.
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Second-half goals by Morgan Ferrier and Dan Scarr eased the Saddlers’ relegation worries.
But Barton felt his side, who stay 10th in League One, should have had two penalties in the first half, when Jason Holt looked to have been impeded and Ash Hunter was pulled back by Scarr. Both appeals were waved away by Ilderton.
Barton, who gave debuts to teenagers Ryan Rydel and Barry Baggley (just 17), expressed his frustration with the officials.
He said: “I thought the ref was not fantastic. He has to think about how he referees games because on a pitch like that there were a lot of fouls – for both teams – that were not given.
“Credit to the players out there because there was real frustration on both sides of and it did not spill over.
“I have been involved in games like that when it becomes dangerous due to the levels of officiating. Players can pick up serious injuries.
“We have young players out there and nobody wants to see players exit the pitch with a serious injury.
“I think if the referee approaches games in the manner he did on Saturday it needs addressing because players’ safety is paramount.
“We had two penalties. Jason Holt gets booted in the leg and Ash Hunter is pulled back. We watched them back multiple times.
“We talked to the fourth official as amicably as we can and followed the correct channels because otherwise you get fined or suspended by the FA. You cannot really say what you feel. It seems at times referees can be a law unto themselves.”
But Barton accepted Mr Ilderton was not the reason for his side’s defeat, adding: “We got beat because we were really poor in the second half, a complete Jekyll and Hyde performance. We have not done that all season.
“I’m incredibly disappointed because first half on a poor pitch we played some good stuff. We got in some good areas and maybe lacked a bit of composure.
“We came in at half-time and gave the lads instructions but credit to Walsall – they upped their game and we conceded one goal from a set-play and one from the second phase of a set-play. But we get the opportunity to put it right at Coventry on Tuesday.”
As for the goals Town conceded, Barton said: “It is a set-play that bounces inside our six-yard box. You have to be incredibly disappointed with that.
“We have enough men in there to deal with it and clear the first phase for the second goal.
“We’d worked all week on the second ball coming back in. Nobody seemed to pick up the man arriving at the back post.
“A real frustrating is thing that without them playing any great football we have given them two goals.
“We have been decent from set-plays defensively this season, so it’s back to the training ground.
“We do the work and sometimes our players switch off. They probably had the praise ringing round their ears at half-time and they thought they had arrived.
“Every time I give them praise they tend to get carried away with themselves. It is a case of dusting ourselves down.”
Town’s League One position is unchanged: they remain 10th and six points outside the play-off zone with 10 to play, though sixth-placed Doncaster have a game in hand.
However, Barton said: “That realistically puts paid to the play-off ambitions. If we had a long shot at that, it is gone.
“We spoke to the lads about 11 cup finals. First half I thought, ‘OK, we are on to something’. Then a really abject second-half showing.”