John Coleman laid into referee Jon Moss in a remarkable press conference following Accrington’s FA Cup defeat to Derby, saying the officiating left him feeling “sick”, “depressed” and “persecuted”.
A determined, well-drilled performance meant the League One side were on top for large parts of Saturday’s fourth-round clash in front of a record crowd at the Wham Stadium.
But Frank Lampard’s Championship play-off hopefuls secured a 1-0 win through Martyn Waghorn’s late effort, having finally found their way through an Accrington side reduced to 10 men when Dan Barlaser was sent off for a second booking in the 59th minute.
Derby’s Jaden Bogle saw red late on but the damage was done, leaving Stanley boss Coleman raging in an extraordinary press conference.
“I feel physically sick, to be honest,” he said.
“And I mean that literally. It feels as though I want to vomit. I wanted to vomit when I saw (Derby) celebrating to the fans.
“Listen, everyone has got the right to celebrate, so I don’t have a problem with it, it just made me feel sick because they didn’t deserve it.
“Even the most biased Derby fan knows that they shouldn’t be in the next round of the cup and the best they should have had was a draw.
“Unfortunately, we’ve been on the end of a couple of horrendous decisions, like we did last week (against Charlton in League One).
“It’s happened time and time and time again.
“The law is half an hour before (a match) you go and see the referee – the referee had scarpered into the lounge.
“Probably our dressing room is not good enough for him and it’s good enough for all the other referees who come week-in, week-out.
“I go and see him in the lounge and he throws me out. His arrogance defies belief and the more you criticise him, the more I get into trouble. And you can’t win – it’s just a no-win situation.
“They don’t want to hear what you say, they don’t care that he’s ruined my weekend, ruined 2,000 fans’ weekend.
“They just move on and know that they’ll get another game next weekend.”
The Professional Game Match Officials (PGMO) body did not wish to respond to Coleman’s comments when contacted by the Press Association.
Coleman was irked by the free-kick awarded in the build-up to Waghorn’s goal, claiming the fourth official shouted “good tackle” down his microphone, and Barlaser’s second booking.
“If it was an isolated incident, you can move on and say you’re unlucky,” the Stanley boss said.
“But it feels as though it’s not unlucky. You feel persecuted.”
He added: “You get to the point where you think ‘I am rapidly falling out of love with football’ – something that’s been my passion since I was five-and-a-half when Jeff Astle scored against Everton, and me and my brother were dancing down the street, and my mother and my father going bananas because they were both Evertonians.
“It has been my passion since then but it’s starting to really hurt me, it’s starting to depress me. Lots of it is getting taken out of my hands.”
Coleman says “the sense of injustice is burning inside me” as ongoing refereeing issues reached a peak with Moss – even though he knows it will likely get him in trouble with the Football Association.
“I had to go and see him in the lounge,” the Accrington boss said of a referee he has known since the Conference days.
“Then I was told to leave as he didn’t like what I was saying.
“I wasn’t swearing, I might have raised my voice – football is a passionate game.
“I waved my arms, I gesticulated when he gave the foul that led to the goal and came over and he didn’t threaten to send me off but said ‘I haven’t decided whether I am going to send you off and you’re making this worse’.
“I know he was a schoolteacher, I was a schoolteacher, but I certainly don’t speak to my players condescendingly like that.”
Put to him that Accrington were given an elite referee on paper, Coleman said: “That’s supposed to be the cream. So, if that’s the cream, I’d hate to see a pint of sour milk.”
Derby counterpart Lampard kept away from officiating decisions and was just pleased to see his side emerge triumphant.
“Hard work, hard conditions,” he said.
“I can say that now because we won. The pitch wasn’t conducive to playing how we want to play, so we had to adapt and Accrington were difficult opposition without a doubt.
“I am pleased we’re through the game and we won it.”
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