MARTIN Rowe pulled no punches in his criticism of Lincoln United’s “disgusting” rough-house tactics in the wake of Gresley’s 2-1 defeat.
Substitute Sean Cann struck the winner for the hosts on 78 minutes to extend Gresley’s string of consecutive away defeats to eight.
The Moatmen were forced to play for more than half an hour with 10 men following the dismissal of John Guy.
That was just one incident which angered Rowe, with the Moat boss sent to the stands himself after protesting over the treatment of his players.
“I think the man in black has let us down today (Saturday),” said the Gresley manager.
“The referee is supposed to encourage a game of football and not a boxing game.
“I thought Lincoln were very physical and they got away with it.
“The referee was too soft all through the game.
“What summed it up for me in the second half was when Zibusiso Nyatitio was getting punched in the face and the referee was doing nothing about it.
“I complained and got sent off – and then he pulled the player over and only gave him a yellow card and it’s just disgusting.
“They were aggressive throughout the game but the referee gave us nothing at all.”
“The free kick which led to their first goal shouldn’t have happened. Then the referee went and booked Eric Graves who didn’t commit the foul which was even more disappointing.”
Rowe was pleased with the character shown by his side in the second half after Guy’s dismissal.
He said: “John Guy pushed the ball a bit too far but he hasn’t gone in intentionally with his feet up – his studs weren’t even showing but they’ve screamed around the referee and he’s reacted instead of stepping back and thinking about it.
“But, 10 men in the second half I think we’ve done really well and I think it was just legs which caught us out.
“The players showed a lot of character today and I think that’s good to see because a lot of teams with the physical abuse they were getting may have disappeared, but our lot stuck at it.”
The visitors’ squad strength was tested with Kieran O’Connell, Mickey Lyons and Jack Langston all absent.
And Royce Turville had to be substituted for debutant Zibusiso Nyatitio just before the half-time break due to a head wound which required medical treatment.
Gresley looked comfortable, especially in the first period, as they dealt with the home side’s long ball tactics – and had early chances to take the lead.
Mitch Hanson was the first to go close, heading Paolo Piliero’s corner over the bar.
Guy then tested home keeper Robert Peel with a well struck free kick from 25 yards which the home number one dealt with well.
The first action for Gresley keeper Mats Morch was to deny Brooks with a fine save from his long-range effort.
On 19 minutes the Moatmen struck the first major blow, when another corner from Piliero was headed home by Marc Strzyzewski.
The game continued to be spoiled by the constant whistle of referee James Bateman.
But Gresley went close to doubling their advantage when Hanson’s free kick from just outside the area went wide of the post.
United drew level with three minutes of the first half remaining. A dubious free kick on the right by Brooks was fired low and found the net through a crowded box.
The second half continued in a stop-start manner with Lincoln’s overly physical approach preventing flowing football.
It was the Whites’ physicality which got Rowe dismissed to the stand as he reacted to an alleged punch on Nyatitio, which incredibly only saw the defender receive a yellow card from the lenient Bateman.
Gresley went close to retaking the lead early in the second half when Eric Graves slipped the ball through to Rob Spencer, whose shot was inches the wrong side of the far post.
Arguably, the turning point of the game came on 57 minutes when a rash tackle on Brooks resulted in a harsh red card for Guy.
Although Gresley were down to 10 men, they continued to press forward and Nyatitio’s superb goal-bound header was touched over for a corner.
Gresley’s day went from bad to worse when United grabbed the winner.
Cann was allowed too much time and space to fire his shot across Morch and into the far corner of the net.
Despite the visitors continuing to press forward, they could not find breakthrough to snatch a share of the points.
While disappointed with the result, Rowe was impressed with Nyatitio.
He said: “The reserve team management told us that he was playing well for them and that’s why we’ve got a reserve side.
“He came on with no fear and got stuck in. Some of the abuse he had, some players would have disappeared but he’s come out and done really well.
“He looked the most likely to score for us but it’s always hard when you have 10 men playing away – particularly here.”