Fleetwood Town boss Steven Pressley has slammed the Football Association for their handling of coin-throwing claims at Highbury during last Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Sheffield United.
A coin was allegedly thrown from the Sheffield United end at Town keeper Chris Maxwell after the visitors were awarded a last-gasp penalty.
Pressley claimed that referee Carl Boyeson told Maxwell it was his own fault he was hit by a missile because of his reaction to the spot-kick decision that saw Che Adams equalise.
And after Lancashire police announced an investigation was taking place, Pressley is keen to see justice prevail and actions like this stamped out before a player is maimed.
The Town boss said: “Chris is fine. But (if he’d been hit) another inch down and we might not be having this conversation.
“I understand the passion of supporters. I love that in football but there are obviously lines and that is going beyond the line.
“We were very fortunate that there was no real damage to Chris.
“The comments of the referee were not in keeping with the game and the moment, and we have reported that to the FA, who have unfortunately deflected it back to the referees’ committee.
“I think that if this was from a higher-profile club, the FA would have gone in and been hands on in this, but unfortunately they have washed their hands of it and pushed it into the hands of the referees.
“The FA have to treat every club the same and I think this is something they should have a serious look into.
“We all make comments at time that we regret.
“I don’t want Carl hung, drawn and quartered, far from it.
“ I just think it is something that needs to be addressed and something that the FA needs to look at.
“The only concerns that I have is my player’s safety and well-being and that he is OK now.
“He appears to be but, as I have said, if we do not stamp this type of behaviour out in football somebody will receive a career-threatening injury.”
The FA are investigating the coin-throwing claims but said the Professional Game Match Officials Limited would deal with any complaints about the referee.
An FA spokesman said: “We are aware of the suggestion that an object was thrown at the goalkeeper and will be making enquiries.”
A spokesperson for PGMOL said that any incident regarding alleged coin-throwing from the crowd would be looked at by the FA.
Town striker Shola Ameobi claims to have overheard the comment Boyeson is alleged to have made to Maxwell just before Adams stepped up to take the penalty.
But the former Newcastle and Bolton forward hopes the club can put the incident behind them and move on.
He said: “It is hard to see when things are thrown at players. It is something that I don’t condone. I felt the ref could have dealt with it a little bit better.
“Some of the comments that I heard him say were not what you want from a referee.
“It was a tough situation that the referee found himself in.
“The keeper is there to stop goals going in, not to stop things bouncing off his head.
“It was an unfortunate situation but hopefully it is something we can put behind us and move on.”
After Nick Haughton’s sending-off, injuries, last-minute penalties and allegations of coin-throwing last weekend, Pressley is hoping for a quieter afternoon when Town travel to League One leaders Burton tomorrow.
The Town boss could be boosted by the return of defenders Conor McLaughlin, Nathan Pond and Joe Davies, who sustained a head injury in the United game and didn’t play in the second half.
But he says Antoni Sarcevic, who scored the only goal when Town beat Burton in the League Two Play-off Final at Wembley in 2014, is a major doubt due to a groin strain.
But Pressley says the injury problems give others a chance to impress as 19th-placed Town’s survival fight enters the final 12 games.
He added: “McLaughlin and Pond have a real chance of making the weekend.
“Joe Davis we believe should be fine once he gets the stitches out of that very large head of his.
“We still have injuries to Stephen Jordan, Tyler Forbes and several others and we will have no Nick Haughton because of the sending-off. But on the whole we are getting the group back.
“We are really short in the defensive area, but slowly but surely they are returning and that will be a big help in the push for survival.
“Sarcevic is a major doubt for the weekend. As yet he hasn’t trained this week but there is a possibility that he could join in on Friday.
“Since I have been here ,Sarcevic has been a major player. He has been one of the top performers this season.
“He is a very robust player and is a driving force of the team. No doubt we will miss him but I am a big believer that others can come in and stake their claim.”
Pressley has a more welcome selection headache up front, with David Ball, Ash Hunter, Wes Burns and Ameobi all hitting the target in recent weeks.
Pressley said: “This is the scenario I wanted. I want to have problems in my selection. The great thing in the forward area is a real competition for places, something we didn’t have earlier in the season.
“When you get your chance, you have to take your chance. I think that is really important.”