GARY Rowett was furious – understandably – after his Burton Albion side was diddled out of their unbeaten League Two run by some dodgy refereeing.
The Brewers lost 2-0 to Oxford United on Saturday – but the game hinged on the first-half dismissal of defender Ian Sharps after a flare-up with U’s striker Dave Kitson.
“If you’re going to red card Ian Sharps for a kick, which didn’t look particularly violent in my opinion, then surely in the rules of the game, if you raise your hands to push it’s a red card?” said Rowett.
Sharps, who had been flattened by Kitson, received his marching orders for angrily aiming a kick at the former Premier League striker on 34 minutes.
But with the whole of the Pirelli Stadium expecting a red for Kitson after he retaliated and went for Sharps, Essex official Michael Bull only produced a yellow.
Oxford went on to win 2-0 as they made their man advantage count.
“I’m not suggesting it was a red card (for Kitson), but you hear it all the time – in the rules of the game, if you raise your hands you leave yourself at risk of being sent off,” said Rowett. “I just felt it changed everything.”
Rowett saw a replay of the incident at half-time and was amazed at the uneven punishments handed down to Sharps and Kitson.
“It was a very soft red and if you give that then surely you have to give a red for the raising of the hands,” said the Albion boss, whose side conceded to Alfie Potter on 49 minutes before Danny Rose added a second with five minutes left.
“We were in control in the first half, without creating an awful lot, and then the decision changes the whole complexion of the match.
“We conceded a goal at a bad time and it was a very poor goal to concede.
“Potter is a good player but he was in a wide position and we had bodies to deal with it.
“From then on in it was a case of can we just try to nick an opportunity.
“We had two or three half bits around the box but they then get the second and the game’s all over.”
Rowett had been looking forward to the game, which was the match of the day in League Two as third hosted second, but saw his carefully laid plans blown out of the water.
“A contentious decision goes against you and the whole game plan you’ve worked on all week goes out of the window,” he said.
“Until we had the sending off we looked okay. We had one or two bright bits of play - a bit more quality was needed a times - but until they scored we were fine and not under too much pressure.”
Fortunately, with Sharps facing a three-match ban, Zander Diamond has returned to fitness after a foot injury and will play in a behind-closed-doors friendly today.
“We’ll assess him and see how he does,” said Rowett. “We’ll know a bit more next week but he’s returned to fitness almost so we’ll see how he gets through the game.”