Southend United manager Kevin Maher was understandably bitterly frustrated this evening after his Blues side fell to a controversial 2-1 defeat at the hands of Maidenhead United at York Road.
Having gone in front through Tom Clifford’s excellent strike just beyond the hour mark, the Magpies levelled when Will De Havilland headed in a free-kick.
But the key moment of the game came in the final 10 minutes when referee Daniel Middleton gave a questionable free-kick which lead to Ryan Upward grabbing the winner for the home side.
“Kens [Ollie Kensdale] has won the ball,” said an angry Blues boss when asked about the decision that led to Maidenhead’s winner.
“He’s won the ball and there’s nothing else to say apart from that. He [the referee] is the only one in the ground that has thought it was a free-kick. And if he thinks Kens has brought him down, and Kens was nearly the last man and on a booking, he should probably send him off if that’s the case.
“The fourth official told me that it didn’t lead to the goal…the only one it seems who thinks it’s a foul is him.”
In the immediate aftermath of the goal from Upward, which came with seven minutes of normal time remaining, Maher was shown a yellow card for his protests while midfielder James Dunne was shown a straight red card for foul and abusive language towards the official.
Clearly still upset by the performance of the referee, Maher was asked if he had spoken to Middleton following the full time whistle before commenting on Dunne’s red card which will see the midfielder serve a suspension.
“We leave it 20-30 minutes, but there’s no point [talking to the ref]. I try and stay away otherwise I’ll get myself in trouble because he made it all about himself in the end.
“He told me before the game he was going to ref it ‘like a northerner’ and would let things go. Sam Dalby can’t get a foul. He’s being climbed over all the time and can’t buy a foul. It’s just frustrating and disappointing.”
On the Dunne incident, Maher said: “I will speak to Dunne afterwards. I haven’t spoken to him yet. He’s sworn I’m guessing, but I’ll find out.
“Dunne knows he shouldn’t do that if he has done that, but the consequence of what caused it is obviously the decision.
“The frustration with the players is all the little decisions all night. We couldn’t get one and they kept getting them. You might say you have to go to ground to get a foul, but the big decisions have decided the game.”
Despite a lot of the focus this evening being on the man in the middle, Maher did agree that his side will be disappointed with how they defended both goals.
With both of Maidenhead’s strikes coming from set-pieces, the Southend boss didn’t want to shift all the blame onto the officials despite his obvious frustrations, while wanting to look ahead to the weekend trip to Yeovil.
“We’ve said that in there that whatever the decision is, we’ve still got to defend it better and that’s what we spoke about in there as well.
“When we go 1-0 up you want to go on and win the game, when you don’t win it, you get a point, so to lose all three and not get anything is very disappointing.
“A win tonight would have pushed us closer to the ones up and around the play-offs and we know that. The same will go Saturday [against Yeovil] and all we can do is try and attack each game and try and win it. We did that today and it wasn’t to be, but we go again Saturday.”