Awford blasts refereeing mistakes

Referee Graham Harwood is surrounded by players from both teams Picture: Joe Pepler

Referee Graham Harwood is surrounded by players from both teams Picture: Joe Pepler

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Andy Awford has hit out at the refereeing errors which hastened Pompey’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy elimination.

A youthful Blues side suffered a 2-1 Fratton Park defeat to Northampton last night, with Ryan Taylor netting for the hosts.

But it was referee Graham Horwood who would incur Pompey’s wrath during a highly-controversial second half.

The Bedfordshire official booked Lawson D’Ath following an ugly challenge on Ricky Holmes which had the home supporters screaming for a red card.

And Holmes was later given a yellow card for simulation following a Cobblers’ challenge Awford is convinced should have warranted a penalty.

The Pompey boss was also disappointed Ryan Cresswell was not punished after a challenge on Taylor left him grounded and requiring treatment.

An angry Awford afterwards studied the match video before talking to the match officials.

He revealed they had apologised and admitted mistakes had been made.

‘All three decisions he got wrong – and the referee has admitted it,’ said Awford.

‘It’s not just the ref, it’s the fourth official and the assistants.

‘They are not allowed to see a replay but have talked it through with the assessor, who has explained it to them.

‘They have had a good chat before I was allowed in there – I had to wait about half an hour – and they have admitted it.

‘We had a real good conversation in there, we have spoken calmly.

‘Straight after the game you are fuming, but you calm down.

‘I hate criticising referees because it’s such a hard job.

‘I very rarely do it, I don’t think it is right. But when it is as blatant as that I think they have got to get it right.

‘They haven’t tonight and I think that has contributed to our downfall.

‘The first one should have been a red card, definitely.

‘With the penalty decision, Ricky played for it and that is what players do – we teach our 14, 15, 16 year-old kids to do that.

‘That is not diving – and he hasn’t dived – but you wait for contact and if there is contact over you go. That is the game.

‘Ricky has done it brilliantly, great play from him for that part of it, but in my opinion the referee has got that wrong.

‘There was also a challenge on Taylor in the second half which I think went unnoticed. The referee can’t even recall it.

‘It’s a hard job being a referee, I wouldn’t want to do it, but the big decisions like that they have got to get right – and unfortunately last night they didn’t.’

Regardless, it is Northampton who progress, although Awford praised his side’s performance.

He added: ‘I was really pleased with the players – just disappointed we only scored one goal in the first half when we were fantastic.’