Paul Cook hit out at referee Gavin Ward after Wigan Athletic suffered only their second home league defeat of the season by the only goal against Derby County.
Ward dismissed Wigan’s Kal Naismith with only 15 minutes gone at the DW Stadium for a last-man foul on the breaking Harry Wilson, who was in the act of shooting.
Wilson was subsequently involved in an altercation with Wigan skipper Sam Morsy, who appeared to suggest he’d been head-butted, in an incident which earned both a yellow card.
To add insult to injury, Wilson was then involved in another flashpoint in the second period, when he went to ground in the penalty area under little or no contact from Dan Burn, only for the referee to choose not to brandish a second yellow.
“I’d like to see the sending-off again, but I don’t want to get drawn into a debate like this,” the Latics boss commented.
“I think Wilson’s a quality player, but there’s key incidents in the game and he was involved in one second half.
“The referee is telling us he’s slipped, but it would be interesting to see it again.
“It’s always in the penalty area where people seem to slip - and he’d already been booked.
“But these are big moments, key moments, in games.
“He’s managed to give the red card in the first half very quickly.
“And I feel on reflection if he looks at the one in the second half...it’s amazing the penalty area is the place he chose to slip.”
After falling behind to Jack Marriott’s 20th-minute goal, Latics had to hang in there while Derby looked for a knockout blow.
Nathan Byrne cleared off the line, while Christian Walton pulled off a couple of brilliant saves.
But after switching to a 5-3-1 formation, the home side stemmed the bleeding and if anything edged a tense second half, without managing to eke out a leveller.
“I’m very disappointed not to get a draw,” Cooked admitted.
“I thought we started the game really well, and the sending-off was obviously huge in the game.
“Derby were magnificent then for 10-15-20 minutes, when they cut us open at will, and on another day could have scored more goals.
“We had to change the formation, there were too many spaces which was allowing Derby to play, and get behind us.
“Thankfully we managed to get in at half-time, and in the second half I thought we were the better team with 10 men.
“I don’t think Derby created anything in the second half, they didn’t cause us any trouble, even with the quality of players they have.
“But they’ve managed to see the game out and good luck to them.
“Could I have asked any more from my players? Certainly not.
“They’ve given me everything in trying to get a point, and that’s all I can ask as a manager.
“If anyone can get any more out of this group of players, they’re a better man than me!
“We had to manage the game at times, but we also wanted to give our fans something to cling on to.
“We stayed in the game for as long as we could, and we’ll probably feel we had chances to maybe have got back into the game.”