GARY Rowett was fuming after his Burton Albion side were denied a win against Wimbledon by an equaliser almost two minutes after added time should have ended.
The Brewers were pegged back to 1-1 at the Pirelli Stadium after 97 minutes and two seconds on Saturday in a blow to their League Two automatic promotion hopes.
Darren Jones’ goal came despite referee Dean Whitestone adding just five minutes onto the match.
Even with a substitution in added time –which adds 30 seconds – the game should have been over, and Albion boss Rowett was furious.
“Five minutes went up,” he said. “We had one substitute within that five minutes, which adds 30 seconds, but we played seven-and-a-half minutes.
“The goal came on seven minutes, so it’s just disappointing.
“I could talk for 10 minutes about how we didn’t play as well as we could’ve done today and you could argue that Wimbledon possibly deserved a point for their efforts and endeavour.
“But it looked as though we’d seen the trouble out second half.
“I have to say to get done by that is particularly galling.
“We needed to defend a corner better, but you could see the players were out on their feet with maybe 15 or 20 minutes to go.
“But we dug in and looked as though we were going to come up with another magnificent effort and three points, which is what it’s about at this stage of the season.
“To get done on 97-and-a-half minutes, I would say I’m not a happy bunny tonight.”
The manager wanted answers from the Northamptonshire official after the late leveller to Billy Kee’s first-half penalty.
“I’m not trying to make it look bad for the ref or act dishonestly,” said Rowett. “I just want an answer.
“That could be the two points at the end of the season which makes all the difference to us.
“You could argue the results around us have not gone great because everybody has won, so it was a particularly important three points.
“For it to be out of our hands is most disappointing.
“I’ll have a chat with the referee afterwards to find out why we played so long.
“If I can have a logical answer, that’s fine and I haven’t got a problem with that.
“I’m not trying to say anything untoward happened, but I just can’t understand it.”
Albion suffered a further blow in the game, with young winger Zeli Ismail hobbling off with a hamstring injury that looks like keeping him out for several crucial weeks of the run-in.
“The key moment in the game was when Zeli broke and we had a three v two or a three v one in a great position, our best of the game,” said Rowett. “He ends up going down injured and pulling what looks like his hamstring.
“The moment is gone and we lose one of our most influential players, so it was a difficult game in terms of that.
“You look at key moments in the game and Matty (Palmer) has missed a glorious chance at 1-0 which would’ve probably seen the game out.
“You always worry, can we hang on. I thought they might have scored earlier than that, they had two or three chances early second half and you knew it would be a set piece really.
“They’re a big team and we got done at the end.
“We didn’t do enough on the ball, certainly.
“The pitch is quite tight and a bit bobbly and Wimbledon set up with one sat in front of a very, very physical back four.
“It’s difficult to find space. If we could have nicked it 1-0 it would’ve been a magnificent result after a poor performance.
“But we’ve got to dust ourselves down and not let the disappointment affect us.”