Hartlepool United interim manager Antony Sweeney reluctant to criticise referee despite red card and penalty frustration against Forest Green Rovers

Hartlepool United interim manager Antony Sweeney was determined not to make excuses for Saturday’s 3-1 defeat at home to Forest Green Rovers.

Monday, 22nd November 2021, 6:00 am

Sweeney played down the suggestion that his side were tired and ill-prepared for the game following a midweek trip to Wycombe Wanderers in the FA Cup.

Pools supporters also voiced their frustrations with referee Stephen Martin after he awarded a number of decisions Forest Green’s way.

When Pools did win a penalty after Joe Grey was pushed over by Dominic Bernard inside the penalty area, the referee kept his cards in his pocket.

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Tempers flare after Hartlepool United's Jamie Sterry fouled Jordan Moore-Taylor during the Sky Bet League 2 match between Hartlepool United and Forest Green Rovers at Victoria Park, Hartlepool on Saturday 20th November 2021. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | MI News)

That was not the case shortly afterwards as defender Jamie Sterry was shown a straight red card for clear violent conduct.

While Sweeney admitted the referee ‘will have had better games’, he felt it was inappropriate to scrutinise someone else’s performance when his side fell was short of the standard expected.

"You've seen when you're last man, through on goal, get barged over – if that's not denying a goalscoring opportunity then I'm not sure what is,” Sweeney said on the penalty decision.

"We stick the penalty away and even if they went down to 10-men, it's still highly unlikely we'd get something from the game but you never know. It's an opportunity but we didn't have the chance to exploit that.

"I could talk about referees and I think he will have had better games but I'm in no position to criticise anyone else when our team and ourselves as a football club have put on the type of display we have. We need to be better.”

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Sweeney had no complaints regarding Sterry’s red card as he even questioned whether the defender committed multiple sending off offences within a short period.

“I didn't see too much of it but it was obviously an off the ball incident which leads to some pushing and shoving,” he said.

"I saw Jamie shove the players head to the ground which is violent conduct, so that's a red card. Whether the off the ball incident to start with was a red card, I'm not sure.

"Whether he could have got sent off for what happened afterwards with the melee, I don't know but ultimately he made it very, very difficult for the referee not to send him off. We can't have any complaints.”

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