COLIN Cooper has called for a fair deal for Hartlepool United and his players from match officials.
The Pools boss was left fuming in the aftermath of the 3-1 home defeat by Oxford United on Saturday.
Pools conceded a penalty, had sub Steve Howard sent off, had a penalty shout turned down and Jack Compton booked for diving – all in the space of four breathless stoppage-time minutes.
Cooper will today weigh up whether to appeal against Howard’s red card but, whether he does or not, he is unhappy with officialdom at the present time and, in particular, the protection of Luke James – or the lack of it.
“I just felt that, at times, we allowed Oxford to bully us, in all areas of the field,” he said.
“I didn’t feel the officials gave us any help with that either.
“I thought Luke James, in particular, was manhandled.
“But if I was a big, rough-tough centre-half in League Two I’d be manhandling him too.
“You just feel that sometimes that a boy like that could do with a bit of help.
“He’s an 18-year-old lad trying to make his way in the game.
“And while you have to accept football’s a man’s game, a little bit of help might have been nice for Luke.
“I’m not going to sit here and say we deserved to win the game, I’m just saying that we seem to be getting the rough end of the stick quite a bit.”
The mayhem began when Scott Flinders was adjudged to have felled Scott Davies, Asa Hall sending the keeper
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the wrong way from the spot.
From the kick-off, Howard was slightly late in a challenge with Davies and referee Jeremy Simpson gave the veteran Pools striker his marching orders.
To rub salt in the Pools wounds, the Lancashire official then not only ignored claims for a trip on Compton but booked the winger for simulation.
Cooper went to see Mr Simpson after the game but admits he did not get the answers he was looking for.
“It’s the first time I’ve been in to see an official this season,” said the boss.
“Not only did we have a man sent off we had a penalty against and were denied one.
“I just felt that the last five minutes left a bitter taste in my mouth and that of our supporters.
“I did not raise my voice or swear at the ref, I just wanted to ask for some honest answers.
“He thinks he’s got all three decisions bang on.”
Cooper added: “Scott feels he did not touch him.
“When a player goes around the keeper and gets caught, he goes over.
“I felt that there was a movement, a wait, and then a double movement and fall, which makes it not natural for me.
“But if it’s proven to be right then the referee gets a pat on the back and can say ‘I got it right’.
“I just felt that last five minutes, the penalty, Stevie getting sent off and booking Jack for diving, that we had the rough end of the stick.
“Jack says he did not dive and the lad caught him.
“As for the sending off, I will take a look at the DVD and they [the referee and his team] will as well.
“They have what they call key match incidents and that was one of them.
“They’ll look at that and we’ll ask for feedback and see what the assessor comes back with.
“It won’t change the result but we’d like to find out if we are getting the rough end of the stick or are we clutching at something.”