Matlock Town boss Mark Atkins was left fuming as to how his side were in front at the death in Tuesday night’s Derbyshire Senior Cup Final against Ilkeston, yet ended up losing 2-1.
It was partly brilliance and partly awful refereeing according to Atkins, whose side looked to be heading for a second County Cup triumph under his stewardship at Chesterfield’s Pro-Act Stadium after they beat Belper Town 2-0 in the 2010 final at Pride Park..
Ilkeston substitute James Reid was the Erewash side’s hero with a 25-yarder and a penalty that won them the game.
“It was definitely not a penalty and to make a decision like that when there’s 18 players in the penalty area is scandalous as you have to be 100 per cent sure to make them,” Atkins rapped.
The impressive Adam Yates was involuntarily cast in the role of fall-guy,
Atkins added: “Yatesy was pushed quite clearly in his back as he went up for the ball it’s hit his hand. It was a foul the other way and a very simple decision for the referee to make.
“But officials at this level don’t seem to be bothered. He’s taken a cup final away from us and the most disappointing and frustrating thing is that when I went to see him afterwards to ask why he’d given it, he wouldn’t tell me, which goes against everything he said in the pre-match chat.”
Now Matlock are left with no silverware in their trophy cabinet, when they looked like bringing the cup back over the A632.
But while Atkins bemoaned the referee, he was full of praise for his team.
“It was an excellent performance, we were the better side by far and had four opportunities to go in front in the first-half alone,” he said.
Nick Buxton’s had one save to make from the header in the second-half. If I’ve got one criticism it’s that we sat back once we scored and it allowed them to put balls into our box, but generally I was extremely pleased with the performance and I just hope the referee can sleep tonight after that decision.”
Atkins agreed that the late drama was indicative of Matlock’s season.
He added: “It does sum our season up. We again had no luck to enable us to see it through and I feel for the lads and the fans tonight who were magnificent with their support.”
Ilkeston FC manager Kevin Wilson, meanwhile, had sympathy with Matlock following the game’s dramatic conclusion on Tuesday night.
The Robins boss said: “You’ve got to feel for Matlock being beaten like that as it was a good game.
“They made it very hard for us to break them down and they deserve credit given the amount of injuries they’ve had throughout the season.
“I’ve known Mark (Atkins) a long time and we both knew this would be a tough game, and so it proved.
“But naturally I’m pleased that in the end it’s our name on the trophy.”
The season ends this weekend with Matlock almost certain to finish in 17th spot in the Evo-Stik Premier League table.
The Gladiators face Worksop Town at the Reynolds Stadium tonight (Thursday), before facing the long trip to Kendal Town on Saturday, with the Cumbrians all but mathematically relegated.