Harrogate Railway boss Liam Gray believes Ryan Basi’s sending off in Saturday’s defeat at Thackley was a pivotal moment in the game, but refused to criticise referee Mr Luke Watson for his decision.
The Starbeck club had fought back from 2-0 down to level the game at 2-2 before Basi was dismissed for a professional foul shortly before half-time.
“The red card was a massive moment in the game because I’m certain that we would have gone on to win in the end,” Gray said.
“The incident took place 25 yards from goal, so maybe some referees wouldn’t have sent Ryan off, but you’ve certainly seen them given so I can’t really complain.
“It’s one of those decisions that I would have been disappointed not to have got if it was the other way around.
“Fair play to Ryan, he’s apologised to everyone in the changing room afterwards and I’ve got a lot of respect for him for doing that.
“In the end we just ran out of steam with 10 men, but the players deserve a lot of credit for the effort and commitment that they showed on the day.”
A pair of fine strikes from Joe Hughes saw Thackley two goals to the good after just 14 minutes of the NCEL Premier Division clash.
Adam Carter then got the Rail back in the game when he controlled a 40-yard pass from Jordan Hendrie and finished well.
Gray’s side had visited Thackley just seven days earlier in the FA Cup and gone 2-0 down before recovering to level the scores and they repeated the trick once again with 40 minutes on the clock.
The visitors had a strong shout for a penalty turned down, and when the ball was cleared to Will Hutton, the midfielder shot home from the edge of the box.
Basi then saw red when he tangled with Hughes as the forward looked to burst into the Railway penalty area, but the sides went into half-time with the scores level.
Kesi Omolokun headed the Dennyboys back into the lead almost immediately after the re-start, only for Elliott Williams to tie things up at 3-3 on the hour-mark.
The striker glanced home Hutton’s corner to register his fourth goal in three appearances for the season and his effort visibly lifted the visitors.
Railway managed to hold out until the 86th minute, but fatigue eventualy caught up with them and Mike Garrod notched Thackley’s fourth of the afternoon.
With the 10 men from Station View pressing forward for another equaliser in the closing stages, they were hit on the counter-attack in stoppage-time when Omolokun struck again.
“We went 2-0 down to two world class strikes and sometimes you have to hold your hands up and say ‘there’s nothing we can do about that’,” Gray added.
“We knew that we could come back because we had done exactly that just a week earlier and we were playing okay.
“It took a lot of character to recover from being two down and then come back again at 3-3. I was really impressed with the lads.
“At 3-3 we thought we could go on and win it and we played well, but in the last 10 minutes we just ran out of steam.
“We had a great chance to go in front however their keeper made a great save and they went down the other end and got their fourth.
“We chucked men forward in the last few minutes and then they picked us off in the end, but we’ll try and take the frustration of this result out on Staveley Miners Welfare in our next fixture.”
Railway visit Derbyshire to tackle Staveley in a 7.45pm kick-off on Wednesday evening.