GRESLEY manager Martin Rowe bemoaned a “dodgy penalty” as Carlton Town came from a goal down to beat the Moatmen on Saturday,
The visitors enjoyed a first-half lead after Paolo Piliero’s spectacular strike.
But Aaron Hooton netted from the spot midway through the second period and Sam MacVicar sealed the points for the Millers late on.
“I thought it was a very dodgy penalty,” said Rowe. “The lad was going away from goal and Liam Guest put his body there.
“The referee was the only person on the pitch who thought it was a penalty.
“Carlton then hit a good shot from distance which hit the bar, and we’ve not reacted quickly enough.”
Rowe admitted that the hosts dominated the second period after an evenly contested opening half.
He said: “We could not get into the game in the second half.
“Carlton kept putting the ball in dangerous places and we weren’t holding the ball up enough up front – and we couldn’t get any pattern of play.
“We had quite a few players out but that’s no excuse.
“The team is still good enough and we proved that in the first half coming in at 1-0.
“But we lacked that bit of desire in the second half to go on and win the game.
“I wanted us to take the game to them but they turned it around a bit and when they brought the big lad on up front we were always struggling.”
It was a familiar story for Gresley who have lost far too may games this season after taking the lead.
And the latest reverse means the Moatmen have now suffered defeat in nine consecutive away games.
Gresley were short of six first team players with Mitch Hanson, Jack Langston, Kieran O’Connell, Mickey Lyons, John Guy and Rob Spencer all missing due to suspension, injury, illness or unavailability.
Zibusiso Nyatitio was handed his first start while there was a debut for new signing Bradley Wells.
Dean Withers, who had been an unused substitute for the previous three games, also came into the starting XI.
Playing with a stiff breeze at their backs and on an uneven surface, Gresley made a steady start – but both sides found it difficult to come to terms with the conditions.
Mats Morch was the first of the two keepers to be called into action, making a good save to his left to hold a flicked header from Alex Troke’s free kick.
On 28 minutes Gresley took the lead when Piliero hit a spectacular dipping half volley from 22 yards over the head of the stranded John Viscosi.
Gresley were unlucky not to double their advantage just before the interval when Nyatitio ran onto Alex Steadman’s through-ball, but the advancing Viscosi did well to get a hand to the shot.
The second half belonged to the dominant hosts – with Gresley failing to create a single meaningful opportunity.
Bradley Munn went close with a long-range effort that whistled just wide of an upright.
A couple of minutes later the Millers were level.
Guest’s challenge on Troke was adjudged to have been just inside the area and the referee pointed to the spot.
It was the third penalty Gresley have conceded in as many games.
Hooton chose to take the spot-kick and found the net, despite Morch guessing correctly and getting a hand to the ball as he dived low to his right.
That goal seemed to spur Carlton on and they began to press Gresley back into their own half.
Town also benefitted from numerous free kicks and corners as they turned up the heat.
The goal that had been coming for the hosts duly turned up with just seven minutes remaining.
A corner from the right by Billy Bennett eventually came out to Hooton, as Gresley failed to clear the danger.
The striker struck a superb shot which cannoned back of the bar, and with the Gresley defence failing to react substitute Sam MacVicar smashed the ball into the roof of the net from close range.
Gresley remain on their travels tomorrow with a trip to Sheffield FC, kick-off 7.45pm.
The Moatmen are four places and four points above Sheffield, and Rowe is targeting points.
He said: “We’ve done well against them this year and let’s hope we put things right when we go up there.
“The lads are obviously disappointed (following the Carlton defeat) and they are furious with the referee yet again – but we’ve got to blame ourselves.
“We need to look at each other and the way we set up.
“Hopefully, Sheffield’s pitch will be better and we’ll have a few more players back.
“Rob Spencer should be back and Mickey Lyons.
“Jack Langston and Kieran O’Connell will not be back. That’s two of our experienced players who we could have done with against Carlton.”