Belper Town manager Grant Black was unhappy with the referee as his 10-man side conceded an injury-time equaliser on Boxing Day to draw 1-1 with Sheffield FC.
“The game changed on an absolute crazy, crazy decision. I’m stood five yards away from it and it’s just an absolute howler from the ref,” said Black, who was angry that Danny South was dismissed 25 minutes from time with Belper leading 1-0.
“It’s just baffling. It’s not a red or a yellow card, he’s got the ball. It’s as simple as that,” added Black. “If they’re taking that kind of tackle out of the game, non-league football is just gonna be left high and dry.
“I thought it was a fantastic performance by the lads.
“We just got a sucker-punch in the last minute.
“It deflected through a lot of bodies and ended up in the back of the net. So it’s frustrating, but as far as the lads are concerned, I can’t ask any more of them.”
It was a bitter-sweet match for Belper defender South, who had put Belper in front before his red card for a challenge on Luke Rawson.
The centre-back almost opened the scoring after a quarter of an hour, but his header was tipped over by keeper Kelsey Adam.
From the resulting corner, however, South towered above the Sheffield defence and scored with a bullet header.
Belper keeper Leigh Overton made several fine saves to preserve the lead.
At the other end Town had chances of their own to double their lead. George Milner’s shot was blocked and Nathan Curtis fired at the keeper.
But Overton was beaten in injury-time by substitute Mitchell Dunne.
Adam from a threatening position.
Sixty seconds following this, the away outfit thought they’d drawn level, but Rawson’s tidy finish was ruled out for offside.
In the 67th minute, referee David Hunt controversially showed Danny South a straight red for a forceful challenge on Rawson.
So Grant Black’s side had to play the remaining quarter of the match with a man less than their opponents, who were looking more and more dangerous as the game went on.
They really should have levelled the match in the 76th minute too, when substitute Mitchell Dunne went through on goal, but his chipped attempt sailed way over the bar.
Overton pulled off another fine save, to deny Marc Newsham, while Adam saved from Curtis again as both teams continued to create good chances.
In the first minute of stoppage time, Ben Turner, who was excellent during the course of the contest, kept Sheffield in the game by clearing a Milner cut-back that looked set to find a yellow shirt.
Then, with 92 minutes on the clock, Overton could only get a hand to Dunne’s stinging shot which found its way into the back of the net to give Sheffield a last-gasp equaliser.