Smith unhappy with ‘pedantic’ referee

Stevenage manager claims Graham Salisbury ‘booked just about everybody who made a challenge in first half’

Stevenage’s game at Colchester United on Saturday was disrupted by a ‘pedantic’ referee who had a ‘bad afternoon’, claimed Gary Smith.

The Boro manager saw his side lose 1-0 to a Sanchez Watt winner, a goal which came a minute after Stevenage midfielder Anthony Grant had been given his marching orders for his second yellow card offence of the afternoon.

Steve Arnold impressed in goal for Stevenage who themselves had one or two chances to claim a point, most notably when Bondz N’Gala’s overhead kick hit the crossbar in the closing minutes, but afterwards Smith said the referee wanted to get himself in the spotlight and did so by sending Grant off.

“Colchester started off the brighter but I thought the best chances came our way. We had two very good chances; the goalkeeper made a wonder save from Filipe [Morais] cutting inside from the left hand side and I honestly thought Darius [Charles] was fouled on the rebound of Marcus Haber’s header on the corner.

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“His striking foot was made contact with. He didn’t get power on the ball. He said somebody clipped his heel as he went to shoot, it’s a penalty.

“The referee sees it, he chooses to give us the advantage and allowed Darius to have a shot at goal whilst he’s been impeded. The ensuing shot is powder-puff. How can that be an advantage? He had a bad afternoon the referee and compounded it with the sending off.

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“You can tell my frustration and it’s born out of the fact that it’s a very competitive game and I think with 11 men on the field we walk away from here with another point on the board at least.

“With 10 men and a quick goal it’s a mountain to climb. [The referee has] made life difficult for himself by booking just about every individual who made a challenge in the first half.

“Now of course professionally our guys have to be more mindful and more appreciative of being on the field with such a pedantic individual and he was.

“[Grant] puts himself in the firing line again and allows the referee to do exactly what he wants to do which is to get the spotlight on him and show that he’s out there and he’s dictating the game.

“It wasn’t the teams that dictated today it was the referee and I’m sure if you want a big story you should be sticking the microphone under his nose because he’d like an article in the paper as well.

“I thought Anthony stepped across him and he put himself in a difficult position and allowed the referee to do exactly what he wanted to do which is send someone off. He worked towards that in the first half, the story unfolded nicely for him.”

In addition to Grant’s sending off Boro looked to escape a second red card when Arnold appeared to catch substitute Ian Henderson when the Colchester man was one-on-one with the Stevenage goalkeeper late in the game, only for Salisbury to allow play to continue.

Overall though, Smith thought his side had chances to take a point but he was disappointed with the lack of a cutting edge.

“I still thought we had one or two moments. There weren’t many, but we had a bit of a build up from one or two set pieces and managed to get some bodies forward.

“Nevertheless there was not enough contact on rebounds, half chances that really have got to go back through a group of players hoping for a deflection.

“Our clinical finishing, our finishing in general, wasn’t good enough. We shot ourselves in the foot. It was a game from which we should have come away with at least a point and we’ve come away with nothing and that’ll stick in everyone’s throat.”

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