Gary Caldwell insisted Wigan Athletic’s 1-0 derby defeat at Preston was down to ‘not bad luck’ but an ‘horrendous decision’ from referee Oliver Langford.
Latics lost a scrappy Lancashire hotpot - the first between the sides in the league for 11 years - after an Aiden McGeady shot took a fortuitous deflection off Jordan Hugill to wrong-foot Adam Bogdan with only seven minutes gone.
But Caldwell pointed to a foul in the build-up that he says was spotted by a linesman, who was then over-ruled or ignored by the man with the whistle.
“It’s not bad luck - it’s an horrendous decision, an horrendous decision,” fumed the Latics boss.
“The linesman clearly says it’s a push, and for some reason...either the referee’s deaf, or he chooses not to take the advice of the linesman.
“Shaun (MacDonald) comes to the back post, I think it’s their big number nine who puts one hand on him then two hands on him, and then wins the header that ultimately falls for them, and they kick it in via a deflection.
“I heard the linesman, he’s standing right next to me, and he said: ‘That’s a push’.
“But no free-kick gets given - which is baffling for me.
“I think everyone in the stadium saw it was a push.
“When they get a goal start from the referee, it’s very difficult.
“You can shout at them (the officials), you can get angry, but they give you nothing back, no explanation. They go quiet.
“I think they know they’ve made a mistake, it’s live on Sky, they’ll see on numerous occasions they’ve made a mistake.
“But it’s no good now. It’s gone now.”
North End started like an express train and were good value for their early lead, but credit Latics for not letting their heads drop and dominating the rest of the encounter.
Will Grigg headed Wigan’s best chance of the first half over the top from close range, while Nathan Byrne hit the outside of a post in the second stanza, as Caldwell’s men once again failed to turn overall dominance into goals.
“We moved the ball quickly, got it wide, created one-v-ones, and starting forcing the issue through the middle and causing them problems,” Caldwell added.
“It’s not just finishing, it’s that little bit of quality in the final third - when it matters - and it wasn’t there tonight.
“I can’t fault the players for their effort, and the way they tried to play the game.
“I can only watch the game and give my opinion, but I thought we were very good for large parts.
“They started with energy, with the home crowd behind them, played a lot of long balls and got a few corners early.
“They scored a goal they should never have been given, and we controlled the game after that.
“If anyone disagrees with me, I’d love to have a chat with them.”